Pistachio Crusted Asparagus with Feta

Asparagus is the first vegetable that makes it feel like spring has arrived. A subtle change happens in the local stores with tough, bland, winter asparagus is slowly replaced with more tender and fresh options. My go-to method of preparing asparagus is roasting with olive oil and salt, but I really liked the flavor punch that this recipe packed. It can be made in the oven or on a grill (though be careful that the bottom doesn’t burn.

A lemon vinaigrette finishes the dish off. The bright pop of flavor lightens the heaviness of the nuts and cheese. It would make a great salad dressing as well.

PISTACHIO CRUSTED ASPARAGUS WITH FETA

1 pound asparagus
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup shelled, roasted pistachios
2 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400F.

Rinse the asparagus and cut about an inch off of the stem ends. Pat dry and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil and toss to coat.

Crush the pistachios in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Spoon half of the mixture onto the asparagus, then flip and cover the other side with the pistachio crumbs.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender through. Remove from the oven and top with feta and then drizzle with lemon vinaigrette.

LEMON VINAIGRETTE

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp honey or agave
Salt
Pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small jar. Cap and shake vigorously.

Adapted from Joy the Baker

Stuffing

Regardless of whether you call it stuffing or filling, this is my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. Baking it in a pan by itself means it can be made vegetarian-friendly and everything will cook more evenly.

If you are short on time, skip the step of drying the bread out. It helps to keep the stuffing from getting soggy, but it will taste just fine without this step.
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Turkey Gravy

This gravy would be best made with fresh stock from a cooked chicken or turkey, but good store-bought stock can be used if needed. Try to pick a flavorful, low sodium stock because this will reduce and the salt could become overwhelming. Wait until the gravy is reduced to add substantial amounts of seasoning as the flavor will change while it cooks.
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Vegetarian Gravy – 2 Ways

Recipes for vegetarian/vegan gravy abound online, but most of them just aren’t that good. The main problem is that they tend to be too sweet. This year, I decided to try out two new recipes, hoping that at least one of them would be good.

The result? Success! The first recipes below was delicious – not too sweet at all. My husband thought it tasted more like a beef gravy than a chiken or turkey gravy, but also liked the flavor. The recipe includes Marmite which I’ve never used before, but was easy enough to find at the local grocery. If you use regular vegetable stock, it’s definitely worth the addition. However, I normally use Better than Bouillon Low Sodium Vegetable Base which has a very similar savory, yeasty flavor. I would still add the Marmite if I had some on hand, but I wouldn’t buy it just for this recipe. Instead, I’d substitute an extra 1/2 tsp of the vegetable base.

The second recipe failed on the same point that most others have – it was too sweet. The flavor was nice, but seemed more appropriate as a dipping sauce for spring rolls than as a gravy.
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