Special occasions usually involve much more effort than everyday meals. This is a collection of outstanding side dishes, done Simple Meals style, so you can give your attention to other details. They are designed to accompany a nice main course such as a rib roast, baked ham, or roasted turkey. While the meat is cooking, prepare any or all of the side dishes for baking.
-- During the meat stand time (essential before carving), increase oven to 450°F.
-- Bake Roasted Fall Vegetables and Asparagus Polenta Gratin for 10 minutes; then add Apple Sage Stuffing to oven (see each recipe for more details).
-- Complete your menu with warm dinner rolls and petite gourmet pastries.
Roasted Fall Vegetables
1/4 cup apple butter
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups pre-diced fresh sweet potatoes
2 cups pre-diced fresh butternut squash
2 cups refrigerated red potato wedges
1 1/2 cups fresh baby carrots
1/2 cup pre-diced red onions
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon seasoned pepper
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Whisk apple butter and oil, in large bowl, until smooth. Stir in all vegetables until well coated.
2. Line baking sheet with foil; arrange vegetables in single layer. Sprinkle garlic salt and seasoned pepper over top. Bake 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until vegetables are tender and golden. Serve.
Prep and Cook: 45 minutes (Makes 8 servings.)
Apple Sage Stuffing
1 pound ground pork sausage with sage
8 ounces trinity mix (fresh diced onions, peppers, celery)
1/2 cup dried berry medley (berries and raisins)
1 large Granny Smith apple (rinsed)
1 tablespoon flour
1 (14-ounce) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 (6-ounce) box cornbread stuffing mix
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Preheat large sauté pan on medium-high 2-3 minutes. Crumble sausage into pan (wash hands); stir in trinity mix and berries. Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until meat is well browned and vegetables are tender. Meanwhile, peel apple; cut into small pieces.
2. Stir flour into sausage mixture and cook 2 minutes, stirring often, until flour is hot and well blended into mixture.
3. Stir in apple, broth, and stuffing mix until well blended. Coat 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray; add stuffing mixture. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden and internal temperature reaches 165°F. Use a meat thermometer to accurately ensure doneness. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Prep and Cook: 40 minutes (Makes 8 servings.)
Asparagus Polenta Gratin
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
large zip-top bag
1 pound fresh asparagus spears (rinsed)
1 (17-ounce) tube prepared polenta (plain or flavored)
2 tablespoons herb garlic butter
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place flour and seasoned salt in zip-top bag; shake to mix. Cut 1 inch from tough root end of each asparagus spear and discard. To do this quickly, group half the spears together, align ends, and slice with sharp knife. Cut into 2-inch pieces; add to bag.
2. Cut tube of polenta in half (this allows wrapper to be easily removed); discard packaging. Cut into bite-size pieces and add to bag; seal tightly and gently shake to coat.
3. Place butter in small microwave-safe bowl (or into baking dish, if microwave-safe); microwave on HIGH 15-20 seconds or until butter melts. Pour into 2-quart baking dish; swirl to coat. Add asparagus mixture; then pour half-and-half evenly over mixture. Cover dish tightly with foil; bake 30 minutes.
4. Remove foil. Sprinkle cheese over top; bake 5-7 more minutes (uncovered) or until cheese melts and begins to brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Prep and Cook: 1 hour (Makes 8 servings.)
Foods should not sit out more than two hours. Divide leftovers into shallow containers for quick cooling in the refrigerator. Don't stuff the shelves; good air circulation is required.