Thanksgiving from the Garden

Like the Native Americans and the Pilgrims who learned from them, the Gouin family is sustained by our garden throughout the winter. I’m happy to share with you some of the ways we enjoy winter vegetables on Thanksgiving — and all season long.

Fall Vegetable Dishes

If you had planted seeds or transplanted Brussels sprout seedlings in mid- to late-July …

If you had planted seeds of collards, kale, turnips, carrots or spinach or transplanted broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi or cabbage in mid- to late August …

You, too, would be enjoying these fresh from the garden for the holidays. Collards, kale and turnip greens are at their best after they have been frosted a few times. Fall-grown carrots are deliciously sweet. Fall-grown cabbage also tends to be sweeter than spring-grown making it ideal for stir-fry.

Shredded Fall Salad

Shred and mix thoroughly equal parts by volume of fresh kohlrabi and carrots. To each cup, add two to three tablespoons of raisins and one tablespoon of fresh dill — which also flourishes in the fall garden. Mix thoroughly and sprinkle with maple syrup just before serving.

Baked Brussels Sprouts

Brush the bottom of a baking dish with extra virgin olive oil. After washing Brussels sprouts, partially cut through each with a sharp knife and place in a single layer in the bottom of the dish. Spritz liberally with extra virgin olive oil and bake in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with grated cheese as soon as they come out of the oven.

Baked Butternut or Buttercup Squash

Peel the squash and cut into long slices approximately one-inch wide. Place the slices in a single layer in the bottom of a well-oiled pan. Spritz the surface of the squash with extra virgin olive oil, and bake for 20 minutes. Turn over each slice of squash and spritz again with olive oil and bake for another 10 minutes. Sprinkle with garlic powder or with salt and pepper before serving.

Mashed Buttercup or Butternut Squash

Punch two to three holes into the center of each squash and cook in the microwave on high for at least 20 minutes. Cut the squash in half and cool. Using a soupspoon, remove the seeds, then the flesh from the skin. Using a potato masher or ricer, puree the flesh and add a big glob of butter, two to three tablespoons of maple syrup and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Blend thoroughly and re-heat in the microwave before serving. Garnish with chopped fresh dill.

Stir-Fried Cabbage and Onions

Shred three to four cups of green or red cabbage, and cut two to three medium onions. Fry the onions in olive oil until they are golden-brown. Remove the onions from the pan, and stir-fry the cabbage until limp in the same frying pan with additional olive oil. Add the onions. Salt and pepper to taste.

Kale or Collards

After washing, remove the mid veins from each leaf and chop the foliage coarsely before placing in cooking pot. Add about an inch of water, cover and simmer for at least two hours. Stir the contents at least every 15 to 20 minutes and make certain there is adequate water. Add a large glob of butter and brown sugar to taste.

Garlic Crackers

To roast elephant garlic, simply place a peeled clove in a small piece of aluminum foil, drizzle olive oil over the clove and wrap tightly. Roast the wrapped garlic clove at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. If the clove cannot be easily crushed, cook for an additional five to 10 minutes. Salt to taste and spread on crackers.

If you plant elephant garlic now, you can enjoy this dish fresh from your garden next Thanksgiving. Since garlic is a short-day plant, it must be planted in deep, compost-rich soil in the fall so that it can produce large bulbs the following June.