cranberries

Lentils with Roasted Squash and Dried Cranberries

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It’s all turkey talk when it comes to Thanksgiving.

But really – it’s the side dishes that everyone stresses about, right?

What to serve with the turkey.

Back in the day my Mom served the same menu every year: candied sweet potatoes (fabulous but with more sugar than I can even imagine using now!); baked cranberries (spiked with brandy); a green vegetable of some sort; her famous “filling” made with barley-shaped pasta, mushrooms, onions and celery.

I like to mix it up every year, although I stick to tradition too. So we always have some sort of sweet potato dish (sometimes – yes --- with marshmallow, sometimes not); the same baked cranberries my Mom made; lots of vegetables; and stuffing (the kids got tired of Nana’s “filling”).

We also have a vegetarian entrée, usually mujadarah or koshary. And I must be aware of allergies, so, no nuts in the stuffing, plus I try to make an additional vegetarian stuffing.

This year I am serving this lentil side dish also. It’s sort of like a salad but also like a casserole. And it can be made ahead. It’s a beautiful dish, filled with colorful, seasonal ingredients. It’s vegetarian. It’s a side-dish. It’s nut-free.

 

Lentils with Roasted Squash, Spinach and Cranberries

  • 2 cups diced winter squash (such as butternut)
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup green French lentils
  • 3 cups water, lightly salted
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2-3 tablespoons orange juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the squash and shallot on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pour one tablespoon of the olive oil over the vegetables, toss and bake for about 20 minutes, tossing the vegetables occasionally. Remove the vegetables from the oven and set aside. While the vegetables are roasting, place the lentils and water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring the liquid to a boil, turn the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Drain the lentils and place them in a bowl. Stir in the vegetables, cranberries and parsley. Pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss the ingredients. Add orange juice, season to taste with salt and pepper and toss the ingredients. Add more orange juice if needed for moisture.

Makes 6 servings

No Easier Cranberry Sauce than this one

Sometimes all you have to do is change one ingredient in a recipe and the entire dish tastes different. Like this one. I've made cranberries the same way for years -- bake them with sugar, let them cool, then add brandy.

This year I added some freshly grated orange peel. Huge difference! If you like the orange-cranberry duo, this recipe is for you. Plus -- this recipe is the next easiest thing after opening a can.

Baked Orange Scented Cranberries

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries (3 cups)
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange peel
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice (or use brandy or rum)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash and drain the berries and place them in a single layer in a baking dish. Add the sugar and orange peel and toss to coat all the berries. Cover the dish tightly with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Remove the cover and stir thoroughly. Let the berries cool. Stir in the juice. Chill thoroughly.

Makes 6-8 servings

Jellied Brandy-spiked Cranberry Sauce

Before my mother learned to make her famous  Baked Cranberries , our Thanksgiving cranberry sauce always came from a can. There were two kinds at the table: whole berry sauce for the grownups and the shivery, quivery jellied stuff for the kids. 
  At some point I tried my hand at homemade jellied cranberry sauce and yes, it is still shivery and quivery (but not so much as the canned kind). I made it in a can too, as a joke, so it could have those can-stripe-indentations.   
  But no one was fooled after taking a taste. They knew it hadn’t come from a can because I   had spiked it with orange brandy.  
  I’ve made several versions of this recipe by now, sometimes with ginger brandy instead of orange, sometimes using juice or cider plus water instead of all water; sometimes mixing in bits of crystallized ginger to give it some extra texture.  
  But this is the basic version. I make it in a ring mold because I usually don’t have empty cans in the house.  

 Jellied Cranberry Sauce 
 4 cups fresh cranberries (one pound) 
 1-2/3 cups water, approximately 
 1-1/4 cups sugar 
 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, ginger brandy or other flavored liqueur 
 1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger, currants, raisins, etc., optional 
 Wash the berries and remove any stems that remain. Drain the berries and place them in a saucepan. Add the water, bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 4-5 minutes until the berries pop open. Crush the berries with a hand blender or in a food processor, then place them in a strainer over a bowl and press down to extract as much liquid as possible. There should be 2-1/4 cups. If not, add some water, juice or cider. Place the liquid in a saucepan, stir in the sugar and bring the liquid to a boil. Cook until the mixture reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer or until it is rich looking and dark and can form a gel when you place a drop in cold water. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the brandy and optional ingredients, if used. Pour into clean cans (best to use #2 cans, about 15-16 ounce size). Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. To umold, use the tip of a sharp knife around the edges, invert the can over a plate and shake it out. Makes 8 servings

Before my mother learned to make her famous Baked Cranberries, our Thanksgiving cranberry sauce always came from a can. There were two kinds at the table: whole berry sauce for the grownups and the shivery, quivery jellied stuff for the kids.

At some point I tried my hand at homemade jellied cranberry sauce and yes, it is still shivery and quivery (but not so much as the canned kind). I made it in a can too, as a joke, so it could have those can-stripe-indentations. 

But no one was fooled after taking a taste. They knew it hadn’t come from a can because I had spiked it with orange brandy.

I’ve made several versions of this recipe by now, sometimes with ginger brandy instead of orange, sometimes using juice or cider plus water instead of all water; sometimes mixing in bits of crystallized ginger to give it some extra texture.

But this is the basic version. I make it in a ring mold because I usually don’t have empty cans in the house.

Jellied Cranberry Sauce

4 cups fresh cranberries (one pound)

1-2/3 cups water, approximately

1-1/4 cups sugar

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, ginger brandy or other flavored liqueur

1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger, currants, raisins, etc., optional

Wash the berries and remove any stems that remain. Drain the berries and place them in a saucepan. Add the water, bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 4-5 minutes until the berries pop open. Crush the berries with a hand blender or in a food processor, then place them in a strainer over a bowl and press down to extract as much liquid as possible. There should be 2-1/4 cups. If not, add some water, juice or cider. Place the liquid in a saucepan, stir in the sugar and bring the liquid to a boil. Cook until the mixture reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer or until it is rich looking and dark and can form a gel when you place a drop in cold water. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the brandy and optional ingredients, if used. Pour into clean cans (best to use #2 cans, about 15-16 ounce size). Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. To umold, use the tip of a sharp knife around the edges, invert the can over a plate and shake it out. Makes 8 servings

Baked Cranberries

On Thanksgiving when I was a kid the cranberry sauce choices were either the jellied kind that trembled or the lumpy kind that clumped together on the plate. In either case, from the can. The lumpy stuff was way too sophisticated for me. The shivery kind went down easier.  Then my mother discovered fresh cranberries. We never looked back. Especially because the recipe is so easy you could do it in less than 5 minutes prep time. And even though it is lumpy, the fruit has a faintly resilient texture and your tongue can actually tell it’s berries you’re eating. It doesn’t cook into an indistinguishable mass. It’s good and beautiful too.   Baked Cranberries   12 ounces fresh cranberries (3 cups)  1-1/2 cups sugar  3 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange flavored brandy  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash and drain the berries and place them in a single layer in a baking dish. Add the sugar and toss to coat all the berries. Cover the dish tightly with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Remove the cover and stir thoroughly. Let the berries cool. Stir in the brandy. Chill thoroughly. Makes 6-8 servings

On Thanksgiving when I was a kid the cranberry sauce choices were either the jellied kind that trembled or the lumpy kind that clumped together on the plate. In either case, from the can. The lumpy stuff was way too sophisticated for me. The shivery kind went down easier.

Then my mother discovered fresh cranberries. We never looked back. Especially because the recipe is so easy you could do it in less than 5 minutes prep time. And even though it is lumpy, the fruit has a faintly resilient texture and your tongue can actually tell it’s berries you’re eating. It doesn’t cook into an indistinguishable mass. It’s good and beautiful too.

Baked Cranberries

12 ounces fresh cranberries (3 cups)

1-1/2 cups sugar

3 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange flavored brandy

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash and drain the berries and place them in a single layer in a baking dish. Add the sugar and toss to coat all the berries. Cover the dish tightly with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Remove the cover and stir thoroughly. Let the berries cool. Stir in the brandy. Chill thoroughly. Makes 6-8 servings

Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is supposed to be a cylinder that quivers like jello and has ring indentations from the can. Isn’t it?

That was the standard when I was growing up anyway. But during the years that followed I learned to make cranberry sauce from scratch and concocted or discovered zillions of good recipes, all of the lumpy variety.

One day I decided to cook a homemade version of that jellied, canned looking kind, just for fun.

I served it at Thanksgiving dinner and everyone was a little puzzled because it looked somewhat darker than the usual. Then they dug in and that was the real surprise. I had slipped some brandy into the mix so it didn’t taste a thing like the supermarket variety. And the texture set it apart too. It was smooth, dense, lush.

Here’s the recipe I used. I experimented with it many times after that, sometimes changing the brandy, sometimes adding little tidbits like chopped raisins, currants or crystallized ginger. Everyone is always pleased no matter which version they get. You can make it without the brandy of course, just add a bit more water and, if you like, some flavorful extract (orange, mint, almond).

Jellied Cranberry Sauce

4 cups fresh cranberries (one pound)

1-2/3 cups water

1-1/4 cups sugar

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, ginger brandy or other flavored liqueur

1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger, currants, raisins, etc., optional

Wash the berries and remove any stems that remain. Drain the berries and place them in a saucepan. Add the water, bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 4-5 minutes until the berries pop open. Crush the berries with a hand blender or in a food processor, then place them in a strainer over a bowl and press down to extract as much liquid as possible. There should be 2-1/4 cups. If not, add some water. Place the liquid in a saucepan, stir in the sugar and bring the liquid to a boil. Cook until the mixture reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer or until it is rich looking and dark and can form a gel when you place a drop in cold water. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the brandy and optional ingredients, if used. Pour into clean cans (best to use #2 cans, about 15-16 ounce size). Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. To umold, use the tip of a sharp knife around the edges, invert the can over a plate and shake it out. Makes 8 servings