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Thanksgiving Sides with Kathy Gunst

This article is more than 13 years old.

Here and Now’s resident chef Kathy Gunst brings us some new takes on squash, potato, and green bean dishes for Thanksgiving. Along with Jonathan King and Jim Stott, Kathy has put together two new cookbooks: “Stonewall Kitchen Winter Celebrations” and “Stonewall Kitchen Breakfast.”  Recipes are below.

Fennel and Potato Gratin

The subtle anise flavor of fresh fennel gives this potato gratin a light, fresh taste. Serve with any holiday roast.

4 tablespoons butter, cubed, plus butter for greasing the pan
2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
3 large bulbs fresh fennel, cored and thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried and crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/2 teaspoon dried and crumbled
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Lightly grease a large gratin dish (about 14 inches long by 11 inches wide by 2 inches deep). Layer the bottom of the dish with half the potatoes. Layer half the fennel slices on top. Season with salt, pepper, half the thyme and rosemary, and half the flour. Dot with half the butter cubes. Repeat with the remaining potatoes, fennel, salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, flour, and butter. (You can make the dish several hours ahead of time. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Pour the cream and milk on top of the gratin. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake covered for 30 minutes. Tilt the dish and baste the milk and cream on top of the potatoes and fennel. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the gratin. Reduce the heat to 300 degrees, uncover, and bake for another 45 minutes to an hour, or until the potatoes and fennel are tender, the cheese melted, and almost all the milk and cream has cooked into the vegetables. Serve hot.

Serves 8.

Holiday Variations:
Omit the pancetta for a vegetarian version of the dish.
Add 1/2 cup crushed, chopped, or slivered almonds or your favorite nut to the topping.

Thin Green Beans with Brown Butter and Roasted Chestnuts

Look for thin French-style green beans (called haricot verts) and vacuum sealed bags of roasted chestnuts. The dish can be assembled and reheated just before serving.

Kathy Gunst's green beans. (Jill Ryan)
Kathy Gunst's green beans. (Jill Ryan)

2 pounds thin green beans or haricot verts, ends trimmed
4 tablespoons butter
6 ounces peeled and roasted chestnuts, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the beans and steam 5 minutes, or until almost tender. Drain and place under cold running water; drain again.

In a medium skillet heat the butter over moderate heat until it begins to sizzle and just turns a rich brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the chestnut slices, salt and pepper and cook over a low heat for 2 minutes. Toss the brown butter and chestnuts with the green beans to thoroughly coat them all. Serve immediately or place in a small casserole or shallow ovenproof dish, cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roast the beans, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until hot.

Serves 8 as a side dish.

Holiday Variations:
· Substitute 3/4 cup chopped or sliced nuts for the chestnuts.
· Add 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest to the beans.
· Add 1/3 cup cooked chopped bacon or pancetta to the beans.

Orange-Scented Mashed Butternut Squash

A nice twist on mashed squash, we puree butternut squash with orange zest and juice for a deliciously sweet side dish.

2 pounds peeled, seeded butternut squash, chopped into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon orange zest or zest from a blood orange
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, or juice from a blood orange
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, optional
1 teaspoon honey, optional

Fill a large soup pot with 2 inches of lightly salted water and bring to a simmer over high heat. Add the squash, cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork or small, sharp knife.

Drain the squash, and transfer to the work bowl of a food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste, and the remaining ingredients, and puree until smooth. Season again to taste.

The squash can be prepared ahead. Place finished squash in a casserole dish. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. To reheat, place in a 350 degree oven, covered, for 30 minutes, or until warmed through

Serves 4.

Holiday Variations:
Try substituting acorn squash, or your favorite winter squash for the butternut.
Add a peeled, chopped apple to the puree instead of the pear.
Add a large, peeled, chopped carrot to the pot with the squash.
Add a dash of ground nutmeg, allspice, or cinnamon to the puree.

Instant Holiday Appetizers

White Bean Dip

  • Rinse a can of beans (white, cannelini beans are particularly good) and drain well.
  • Place in a food processor or blender with a few tablespoons of olive oil, a clove of garlic, and some herbs and whirl until smooth, and you’ve got an instant dip.
  • Serve with crackers or warm pita bread cut into triangles.

Deviled Eggs

  • Hard boil a few eggs; cool and peel. Cut in half and scoop out the yolk and place in a bowl.
  • Mash with a tablespoon or two of mayonnaise and 1 to 2 tablespoons black or green tapenade. Place the filling back in the egg white and serve the olive-stuffed eggs

Blue Cheese Dip

Mash blue cheese with a fork and add sour cream and touch of mustard and serve in endive spears, celery, or on crackers or flatbread

(Recipes courtesy of Kathy Gunst, Jonathan King and Jim Stott, "Stonewall Kitchen Winter Celebrations," Chronicle Books, 2009.)


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