With Gratitude

You knew this post was coming. Thanksgiving is almost like a holiday made for food bloggers- an entire day dedicated to cooking, eating, photographing, and more eating. Some bloggers chose to write about the feast before the holiday. Others, like myself, were perhaps too entrenched in perusing all the Food & Wine magazines and cookbooks to carve out time to write a post (ha, pun intended). But I simply can't let the holiday go by without any mention here. That'd be unorthodox.

So with Thanksgiving behind us, many of us are stuck with leftovers, dreading to have dried turkey for the week to come. But that doesn't have to be the case! To borrow Mark Bittman's aptly titled article, use some "radical rethinking of Thanksgiving leftovers" and transform them into many more delicious meals!

A family friend blessed us with a ginormous piece of ham, and boy, was it a heavily salted piece of fatty pork! To eat it as a ham steak was just asking for a heart attack to happen. So after the fat was trimmed, I cut them into strips and tossed with copious amounts of leftover veggies in a pasta. Feel free to substitute leftover turkey for ham; just add some stock to moisten the meat well. Or skip the animal protein completely for a vegetarian version. Thanks to my fellow dietitian/foodie, Gigi K, author of the newly launched Nutritiously Curious, for the idea to saute carnival squash in butter. What a lovely way to enjoy them!

Thanksgiving Pasta
makes 6-8 servings
1 package of whole wheat penne pasta 
1/2 lb Brussels sprouts, cleaned and sliced thinly lengthwise 
1 1/2 lb carnival squash, halved or quartered then sliced thinly with mandolin
1/2 large onion, julienned 
3 medium orange bell peppers, julienned 
Ham steak or turkey breast, sliced into chunky strips 
Turkey or vegetable broth
2 tbsp butter 
Dash of paprika
Pinch of red chili flakes 
Leftover herbs like thyme or sage 
Salt and pepper

  • Boil pasta according to package. Salt water if necessary. 
  • Prepare veggies, starting with carnival squash so you can prepare other veggies while you saute the squash.
  • In a cast iron or nonstick skillet, drizzle some EVOO and add 1/2 tbsp butter. Add 1/4 of squash ribbons when butter is completely melted. Squash will cook down but requires cooking in batches for best results. 
  • Saute squash until slightly browned. Season with a pinch of S&P, dash of smoked paprika, and pinch of herb. Add 1/4 cup broth and cook until soft. Repeat step with remaining squash and spread squash out on a plate.
  • Using the same skillet, saute ham or turkey until slightly browned. Skip the oil if the meat has some fat on it. If it's a piece of dried turkey, add a drizzle of EVOO and some broth to moisten. 
  • When ready, place meat in a dish and saute onion with the same skillet. Add bell peppers after onion has softened. 
  • Remove veggies from skillet when onion and bell peppers are cooked. Saute Brussels sprouts in the same manner. 
  • Using a larger pan, add all components and heat through while tossing ingredients together. Add 1/4 cup broth at a time to ensure pasta isn't dried out. Add dash of smoked paprika, red chili flakes, and herbs.
    (An alternative to not using another pan is to toss the ingredients together in batches. One less thing to wash!) 

This Thanksgiving, I was thankful for friends who put effort into staying in touch despite of schedule conflicts or geographic separation. Also a huge thank you to those I've crossed paths with this year who listened to me talk about food with interest and patience. In this culture of constant motion and distractions, your attention is tremendously appreciated.

Last but certainly not least, my deepest gratitude goes to the "invisible hands" who literally had a hand in growing my food. From the people who made sure my turkey was given organic feed to the Brussels sprouts farmer who grew and harvested these cabbages, your back-breaking work isn't, and shouldn't be, forgotten.


delwin said...

Thank you for creating such a delicious dish

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