Whipped Sweet Potatoes With Pears, Chopped Autumn Salad are Thanksgiving sides to make you a star

Whipped Sweet Potatoes With Pears is my all-time favorite Thanksgiving recipe. If you make nothing else this year, make this.

For everyday eating, the melange of fall flavors is a great accompaniment for a rotisserie or home-roasted chicken or even pork tenderloin. I know someone who has adopted this as her signature fall dish. She tells me she freezes it and that it thaws and reheats beautifully.

Every time I've made these pear-spiked sweet potatoes, people wonder what's in the dish. The cooked pears disappear into the whipped sweet potatoes, so only their flavor remains. The key is to use ripe, soft pears. Hard pears will not fall apart as they cook and the mixture will be lumpy. It still tastes good, but it's not as rich. You could substitute canned pears if they are packed in their own juice, not syrup. Also, if you want to tone down the fat content, use non-fat evaporated milk.

If you're looking for another show-stopper, consider Chopped Autumn Salad, which shows great thanks to the persimmons and glistening pomegranate seeds. The recipe says the seeds are optional, but their crunch and flavor add much to the salad.

Chopped Autumn Salad also travels well if you're heading to someone else's home for the big meal. Cut up the cabbage and Romaine ahead of time, prepare the pomegranate seeds and make the dressing, but don't cut the fruit or dress it until just before serving.

Information from the Pittsburgh Post-Dispatch was used in this report.

>>MODERATE

Whipped Sweet Potatoes With Pears

8 medium sweet potatoes

4 pears, peeled, cored and chopped

1 cup evaporated milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ cup packed brown sugar

4 tablespoons butter

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 pinch of ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and bake 1 hour, or until tender.

Peel the baked sweet potatoes. Place in a medium bowl and whip with electric beater until smooth.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, gently cook the pears 10 minutes, or until tender. (The pears will emit enough juice; you won't need water.) Process the pears in a food processor or blender until smooth.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix the evaporated milk, vanilla, brown sugar and butter. Heat until scalded. Blend into the sweet potatoes.

Mix the pear puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange juice and pecans into the sweet potato mixture. Transfer to a large baking dish.

Bake in the preheated oven 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Makes 8 servings.

Note: You can skip the oven browning and serve just heated. The dish is delicious both ways.

Source: Adapted from www.allrecipes.com

>>MODERATE

Chopped Autumn Salad

For the Apple-Cider Vinaigrette:

½ cup apple-cider vinegar

2 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Pinch of salt, or more to taste

For the salad:

12 ounces red cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)

2 romaine hearts, coarsely chopped (about 6 cups), rinsed and dried if not prewashed

2 crisp apples, such as Fuji, Gala or Braeburn, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch dice (about 2 cups)

2 ripe but firm pears, such as Bosc or Anjou, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch dice (about 2 cups)

2 Fuyu persimmons (these are the kind you eat hard, not soft), peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice, seeds discarded, if any

Seeds from 1 medium pomegranate (optional)

20 fresh mint leaves, cut into thin ribbons

To make the vinaigrette, combine all the ingredients in a glass jar and seal the lid tightly. Shake vigorously to combine. (The vinaigrette can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 2 weeks. Let it return to room temperature and shake vigorously before using.)

To make the salad, place the cabbage and romaine in a large bowl and toss to combine.

Just before serving, add the apples, pears and persimmons to the cabbage-romaine mixture and toss to combine. Add half of the vinaigrette and toss again, adding more dressing as desired.

Transfer the salad to a large platter and garnish with the pomegranate seeds, if using, and the mint. Serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8 as a side.

Source: The Earthbound Cook: 250 Recipes for Delicious Food and A Healthy Planet by Myra Goodman with Pamela McKinstry, Sarah LaCasse and Ronni Sweet (Workman, 2010)

Whipped Sweet Potatoes With Pears, Chopped Autumn Salad are Thanksgiving sides to make you a star 11/19/11 [Last modified: Saturday, November 19, 2011 3:30am]

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