Whether it’s at Thanksgiving or otherwise, the best parts of many feasts are often the things served up on the side. They can often be made ahead, happy to wait around for the centrepiece to get ready, and tend to be much more full of flavour and texture than the main event, too. That’s not to say this is an either/or situation, though: the roast needs the sides and the sides need the roast. Which is just one more thing to be thankful for when sitting down to any celebratory meal.
Glazed pumpkin with tahini and pecan gremolata
The use of chickpea flour here is a neat trick: it helps the marinade adhere to the pumpkin better and creates a nice spicy crust. If you don’t have any to hand, though, simply omit it. All the toppings can be made ahead of time, ready for the dish to be assembled at the last minute, but add the lime juice to the gremolata only just before serving.
Prep 25 minCook 35 minServes 4-6
1 small pumpkin, skin on, cut in half widthways, deseeded and cut into 3cm-wide wedges (600g)2 red onions (320g), peeled and cut into 3cm wedges1 tbsp rosemary leaves, roughly chopped¼ tsp chipotle chilli flakes, or hot chilli flakes½ tsp ground ginger½ tsp ground cumin½ tsp ground cinnamon⅛ tsp light brown sugar½ tsp chickpea flour (AKA gram flour – optional)Salt3 tbsp olive oil3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
For the balsamic and date glaze70ml balsamic vinegar50ml date syrup
For the gremolata50g pecans, toasted and roughly chopped15g mint leaves, roughly chopped15g coriander leaves, roughly chopped1 lime, zest finely grated, to get ½ tsp, then juiced, to get 2 tsp
For the tahini sauce60g tahini1 tsp lime juice
First, make the glaze. Put the balsamic and date syrup in a small saucepan with an eighth of a teaspoon of salt, bring to a boil, leave to bubble for two minutes, then take off the heat.
Heat the oven to 210C (190C fan)/410F/gas 6½. Put the pumpkin, onion, rosemary, spices, sugar, gram flour, if using, and half a teaspoon of salt in a large roasting tray and toss to coat evenly. Pour in the oil, toss again, then roast for 20 minutes. Gently stir in the garlic, roast for another 10 minutes, then drizzle over two tablespoons of the glaze and roast for a final two minutes. Take out of the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Put the tahini, lime juice and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl, gradually whisk in 45ml cold water until you have a silky sauce, then set aside.
Just before serving, combine all the gremolata ingredients in a small bowl. Arrange the pumpkin mix on a large, lipped platter, spoon the tahini sauce all over the top and drizzle over the remaining glaze. Serve topped with the gremolata.
Brussels sprouts with cavolo nero and chestnut crumble
This crumble, which brings a nutty richness to the vegetables, would be equally at home on some salad leaves. If you want to get ahead, prepare the vegetables the day before, but don’t be tempted to make the crumble until just before serving.
Prep 20 minCook 30 minServes 6 as a side
35ml olive oil2 red onions, peeled and cut in half, then each half cut into 6 wedges (190g)Salt and black pepper2 tbsp balsamic vinegar2 tsp dark brown sugar750g brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed150g cavolo nero, stems removed (save them for stock), leaves cut into 6cm-wide strips (70g)130g pancetta, chopped into ½cm pieces10g sage leaves80g vac-packed cooked and peeled chestnuts, coarsely chopped
Put a large frying pan on a high heat and, when hot, add a teaspoon of oil, the onions and half a teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring often, for five minutes, until the onions are lightly charred and translucent. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and sugar until the onions are well coated, then transfer to a large bowl.
Wipe out the pan and put it back on a high heat. Once it’s hot, add two teaspoons of oil and lay in half the sprouts cut side down. Scatter over three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt, then cook for three minutes, turning once halfway, until the sprouts are lightly charred. Transfer to a small bowl, return the pan to the heat and repeat with two more teaspoons of oil and the remaining sprouts. Tip all the sprouts back into the pan, add a good grind of pepper, cook, stirring, for two minutes more, then add to the onion bowl.
Return the pan to a medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the last two teaspoons of oil and the garlic, and fry, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the cavolo nero, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of water, cook, stirring occasionally, for a further two minutes, until wilted, then scrape into the sprout and onion bowl.
Now make the crumble. Put the pan back on a high heat, then fry the pancetta, stirring occasionally, for two minutes, until golden. Add the sage, cook for a minute, until it turns dark green, then stir in the chestnuts.
Stir half the crumble mixture into the sprout bowl , then spoon the sprout mixture on to a large, lipped serving platter. Scatter over the remaining crumble mixture and serve warm.
Leek and anchovy gratin with crunchy topping
This one-pan gratin with an addictive topping will find a happy home on any Thanksgiving table. To get ahead, prepare the base a day before and refrigerate.
Prep 25 minCook 45 minServes 6
1kg leeks, trimmed and cut into 5mm-thick rounds (850g)4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed1 small celeriac (550g), peeled and cut into 5cm pieces75g unsalted butter9 anchovy fillets in oil, 3 finely chopped, the rest left whole, plus 2 tsp of their oilFine sea salt and black pepper150ml chicken (or vegetable) stock50g parmesan, finely grated250ml double cream20g tarragon, leaves picked and finely chopped15g parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped160g sourdough, crusts removed (90g net), torn into 2-3cm pieces50g walnuts, roughly chopped
Heat the oven to 190C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5. Put a large, ovenproof, 28cm saute pan on a medium-high heat, add the first four ingredients, the six whole anchovy fillets and a teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring, for eight minutes, until the leeks and celeriac have softened and are lightly coloured. Stir in the stock, parmesan, cream, herbs and a good grind of pepper, then take off the heat.
Put the chopped anchovies, anchovy oil, bread and walnuts in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Scatter the bread mixture on top of the leek and celeriac mix, then bake for 35 minutes, until the topping is deeply golden.
Take out of the oven, leave to rest and settle for 10 minutes, then serve hot.