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Thanksgiving need not include a side of carbs

For people on popular low-carbohydrate diets, or any diet for that matter, holiday meals are treacherous.

Particularly difficult is finding low-carb side dishes.

Typically, the side dishes of Thanksgiving are laden with potatoes, sweet potatoes, starchy squashes, pumpkin and corn, all foods will lots of carbs.

To add carbs to carbs, many recipes call for corn syrup, marshmallows, apples and brown sugar.

To scale back carbs in side dishes, start with vegetables lower in sugars.

To scale back carbs in side dishes, start with vegetables lower in sugars, such as zucchini, broccoli, spinach and green beans. These everyday veggies can be made special with the addition of flavorful cheeses and nuts.

Green Bean Salad With Pumpkin Seed Dressing

{ cup green (hulled) pumpkin seeds (not roasted, 2\ ounces) or pine nuts (2{ ounces)

1 small garlic clove, minced

\ cup extra-virgin olive oil

\ cup water

1{ tablespoons fresh lemon juice

{ teaspoon ground cumin

{ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

} pound small green beans (French haricots verts if you can find them)

2 small tomatoes ({ pounds total), halved, seeded and cut lengthwise into \-inch-wide strips

Toast pumpkin seeds in a dry, small heavy skillet over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until puffed but not browned, about 6 minutes. (If using pine nuts, toast until pale golden, about 7 minutes.) Transfer to a plate to cool.

Reserve 1 tablespoon seeds, then puree remaining seeds in a blender with garlic, oil, water, lemon juice, cumin, salt and 1 tablespoon cilantro until smooth. (This dressing might be better described as pesto than a vinaigrette. If you want it thinner, double the water and add more lemon juice to taste.)

Cook beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes.

Drain in a colander, then plunge into a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking. Drain beans and pat dry.

Arrange beans on a plate and drizzle with dressing. Top with tomatoes and more dressing, then sprinkle with remaining tablespoon cilantro and reserved pumpkin seeds. (You may have more dressing than you need. Save for another salad.)

Serves 4.

Source: Gourmet magazine, July 2002.

Stuffed Zucchini

3 small zucchini

5 ounces goat cheese

\ cup Nicoise olives, pitted and chopped

\ cup blanched almonds, chopped

{ cup chives, chopped

5 springs fresh oregano, leaves only, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)

Salt & pepper to taste

[ cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out and reserve two-thirds of the pulp, being careful not to make a hole in the bottom of the squash halves. Set aside. Chop the pulp and mix with the goat cheese, olives, almonds, chives, oregano, salt and pepper. Divide the mixture evenly among the hollowed squash halves and drizzle with the olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 6.


Baked Fennel With Gorgonzola

4 bulbs fennel, untrimmed

1} cups chicken broth

4 ounces blue cheese

2 tablespoons bread crumbs

Salt to taste

Rinse fennel. Trim off stems, and reserve about 1 cup of the tender green leaves. Trim any bruises or dry-looking areas from fennel. Cut each bulb in half from stem through root end.

Lay fennel bulb pieces in a 10-inch frying pan and add broth. Cover, and bring to a boil on high heat. Simmer until fennel is tender when pierced, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer fennel to a shallow casserole dish, 9 to 10 inched wide; lay cut side up.

Boil broth uncovered on high heat until reduced to about { cup. Stir in about half the fennel leaves. Spoon mixture evenly over fennel. Mash cheese with bread crumbs. Dot mixture evenly over fennel. If making ahead, cover and chill up to a day. Also wrap remaining fennel leaves in a towel, seal in a plastic bag and chill.

Bake casserole uncovered at 375 degrees until cheese begins to brown and fennel is hot, about 20 minutes. Tuck remaining leaves around fennel. Season to taste with salt.

Makes 8 servings.


Creamy Spinach Casserole

1 10.75-ounce can condensed low-fat cream of celery soup

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons butter

{ teaspoon garlic salt

Salt and pepper to taste

2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

1 onion, finely diced

In a saucepan, combine celery soup, flour, butter or margarine, garlic salt, salt and pepper, spinach and onion. Whisk together and cook over medium heat until hot and thick.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.


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