Sides make the meal, never more so than on Thanksgiving, when there's so much pressure to serve the same family favorite recipes year after year. Yes, the favorites are wonderful and bring back memories, but updating traditions can create new memories -- and it's more fun for those of us who are the cooks. From now until the day, I'm sharing recipes for some of the sides from my own holiday menu. First up, a new appetizer on my table this year: pumpkin "hummus", made not with tahini and chickpeas, but with peanut butter and canned pumpkin purée, warmed up with smoky paprika and harissa. Serve it on pita triangles or celery sticks, and be sure save some to smear on leftover turkey sandwiches.
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All year long I've been on a campaign to eat more kale. You can tell by my use of the word campaign that kale is a vegetable I'm learning to love, not one I loved from the start. Like most kids I know, I don't always want to eat my dark leafy greens, so from time to time I have to hide vegetables in my own meals. This mildly spicy red pepper, kale and walnut dip -- which you also could use as a spread on sandwiches or bruschetta -- began as a random ingredient pull from the refrigerator. I had some kale that needed to be used, a bit of leftover roasted red pepper in a jar, and a few walnuts. Harissa brought them all together in a Mediterranean-inspired dip, and nobody will ever figure out that kale is the green in it. Serve this at your next party, with celery sticks, carrots, or tortilla chips.
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Appetizer spreads to smear on crackers or toast or slices of cucumber are a party host's best friend. No matter the ingredients, most spreads taste better when made at least a few hours ahead, so the flavors can meld. The food processor or blender makes spreads quick and easy, and the guests do their own smearing a la minute. Here are five of my favorite spreads for easy party or picnic appetizers. Serve with toast, crackers or crudités -- or with all three.
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Indexing recipes so you can find them easily on The Perfect Pantry is one of the toughest parts of my job. After all, who am I to dictate that this avocado and edamame spread should be a lunch dish? I enjoyed it for breakfast, and again for mid-afternoon snack, and then I gave the rest away to someone who ate it for a light summer supper. And then I went out and bought another avocado so I could make it again the same day. Please try this, even if you think you don't love soybeans. The creamy, sesame goodness will win you over.
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