Here’s a lighter take on Thanksgiving that I made a couple weeks ago. Marshmallow-topped yam casserole became roasted yams with caramelized onions; turkey gravy became celery pesto, and mashed potatoes became turnip gratin. We ate this with a bottle of Avery Fifteen, an anniversary ale with hibiscus, figs and white pepper, fermented with a strain of the wild yeast Brettanomyces. The beer complimented the meal in stellar fashion- the brett gave it a tart, wild flavor that cut the richness of the yams and gratin well, while complimenting the celery and capers in the turkey.
The pesto is easy to make- the recipe follows the traditional pesto, replacing basil with celery and pine nuts with a mix of pine and walnuts. I added capers as well for a bitter, salty finish, and spooned the pesto over turkey with capers, kalamata olives, and a squeeze of lemon juice.
adapted from a Tyler Florence recipe
* 1 c unsalted walnuts
* 1/2 c toasted pine nuts
* 3 cloves garlic, chopped
* 1 c flat leaf parsley, chopped
* 2 c celery leaves, chopped
* 1tbsp capers, drained
* 1 tsp lemon juice
* 1/2 c Parmesan, grated
* 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
Toast the walnuts in a heavy pan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown. Set aside to cool and repeat with pine nuts. Rub cooled walnuts between your hands to remove the skins. Roughly chop all nuts and add to food processor with garlic, parsley, celery leaves, capers and lemon juice. Pulse until a paste forms. Add cheese and pulse to combine. Add olive oil slowly to form a smooth pesto. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Oven-Roasted Yams with Carmelized Onions
* 2 lb yams, peeled (2 or 3 large yams)
* 2 tbsp vegetable oil
* 1 large onion, halved and sliced
* 2 tbsp unsalted butter
* 1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
* 4 strips thick bacon, chopped
* 1 tbsp rosemary, chopped (2 4-inch sprigs)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a mandoline (set to 1/8″) or a vegetable peeler, shave the yams into thin strips. Toss with vegetable oil and some salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and bake until soft (10 minutes or so). In a heavy pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until the fat begins to render (2-3 minutes). Add the sliced onions and butter, and cook until the bacon crisps and the onions begin to brown (10 minutes). Add the balsamic and reduce until the liquid is nearly gone. Stir in the rosemary. When the yams are softened but not yet browned, spread the onion mixture over the pan and return to the top rack of the oven. Bake, stirring occasionally, until the yams brown.