Side Dishes Rule!

The best part of the holiday menu is all the stuff un-turkey on your table, and you know it.

by Karin Duncker • More.com Member { View Profile }

I’ve also included a recipe I think will go beautifully the pork, Butternut Squash Caponata.  While this is not my idea originally (I saw Mario Batali make it on TV last week to accompany that other white meat), when I looked up the recipe on the show’s website it wasn’t listed. So I figured I’d try to reinvent it, adding in a few adjustments of my own. The result may not be exactly what Mario had in mind, but it sure is good!

Fennel Crusted Pork Loin with Potatoes and Pears  (From Real Simple Magazine)

Serves 4, and can easily be doubled for 8

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 tablespoons olive oil kosher salt and pepper

2 pounds boneless pork loin

2 red onions, quartered

1 pound small white potatoes, quartered

3 firm pears (such as Bartlett or Bosc), cored and quartered

Heat oven to 400° F.

Using the bottom of a heavy pan, crush the fennel seeds. In a small bowl, mix the seeds, the garlic, 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Rub the mixture over the pork, then place the pork in a large roasting pan.

In a bowl, mix the onions, potatoes, pears, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the remaining oil. Scatter around the pork, trying not to overcrowd the pan or the heat won't distribute properly and the food will steam. Roast until cooked through, about an hour and 10 minutes (internal temperature 160° F). Transfer the pork to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with the roasted fruit and vegetables. Calories: about 415 per serving.

Butternut Squash Caponata  (Inspired by Mario Batali from “The Chew”)

Makes about 4 ½ cups

NOTE: Try to chop the vegetables all about the same size so they cook at the same time

4 cups or about 1 pound peeled and cubed butternut squash

1 ½ cups chopped onions

1 cup chopped fennel

1 cup chopped celery

1 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder

2 TBSP honey

¼ cup balsamic vinegar, plus 1-2 TBSP to add into finished dish

½ cup dried currants (you could substitute golden raisins)

¼ cup toasted slivered almonds, pine nuts or hazelnuts

1 TBSP olive oil

Salt and pepper

Sauté the vegetables in the olive oil and a generous pinch of salt over medium heat until they start to soften, about 10-12 minutes. Add in the cocoa and ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, honey and currants and toss well, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until the vegetables are tender but not mushy, about another 5-10 minutes more.  When the vegetables are done, turn off the heat and add in the remaining 1-2 TBSP balsamic and a few good grinds of black pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. The caponata gets better as it sits, so this is the perfect dish to make ahead and keep in the fridge until you need it. Serve at room temperature with pork, turkey, duck, or whatever you like. (It’s great with goat cheese on toast too.) Calories: about 100 per ½ cup.

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