Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Non-Traditional Christmas Dinner

Forbes and I celebrated Christmas with his mom this past weekend since we will be traveling through the holidays.  We donned our Christmas sweaters and headed out in the 70* weather to "make-believe" it was really Christmas!

Before our drive to Winston-Salem we stopped by our favorite little local winery, Daveste, for a holiday open house.
We grabbed a glass of wine and some snacks and enjoyed the beautiful day outdoors.
Daveste is located in Troutman, NC, and while I'm no wine connoisseur, I do believe these are pretty great. 
The owners at Daveste are delightful and always remember us when we come (maybe it's too often!)
Before too long it was time to hit the road and we were off to Alina and Ron's.  Here is a recycled photo from Christmas last year...I failed to take human photos this year!
This year's spread was a little non traditional for a Christmas meal.
Around the plate, we had Stuffed Eggplant, Melody Mash, Wheatberry Salad, and Polenta with Ragu.

I have never enjoyed eggplant as much as I did in this dish.  I loved the stuffing, although I could not tell you what was in it.

My contribution was the Melody Mash.  It is quite the temperamental dish to photograph, but tastes delightful.
The Wheatberry Salad was my favorite dish of the evening and I cannot wait to replicate it!
Polenta and homemade Ragu is a favorite of ours and we really enjoyed this addition to the meal as well!
We opted to skip out on homemade desserts.  Rather we headed over to Whole Foods for Sorbetto.  I enjoyed the Vegan Chocolate made with avocado.  It was quite the treat!
Altogether this meal, and entire day was quite non-traditional for a Christmas gathering.  We enjoyed it all the same, especially the quality time with family!  Now I am just anxious for the real deal next week with my parents!

Melody Mash
serves 8

This dish takes the place of traditional mashed potatoes at your holiday feast.  With parsnip, cauliflower and rutabaga you achieve a sweet and savory mash that will please everyone around your table.  While no one will believe it is mashed potatoes, they will enjoy this new dish all the same. The more potatoes you add the starchier the dish will be, better resembling mashed potatoes if you are trying to fool any loved ones into eating more vegetables!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes

  • 1 or 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 medium rutabaga
  • 2 large parsnips
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter substitute (Earth Balance)
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt, more to taste
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Peel and chop potatoes, rutabaga and parsnip.  Chop cauliflower.  All pieces should be approximately the same size to cook evenly.
  2. Bring 6 cups water to a boil and add all vegetables and 2 teaspoons salt into pot.  Continue to boil at a rolling simmer (medium to high heat) about 30 minutes until vegetables are well cooked.  You should easily be able to cut apart each piece with a fork or spoon.  Cauliflower will start to fall apart and absorb into cooking water.  
  3. Continue to cook until most water is absorbed or boiled out, about another 5 or 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat in saute pan.  Chop the onion and add to the pan.  Cook onion for approximately 20 to 25 minutes until caramelized, stirring frequently.  You will allow it to stick slightly to the pan before stirring to create brown bits that add flavor.
  5. When vegetables are cooked, and onion is browned, remove onion from pan and place in food processor.  Add 2-3 cups vegetables to the food processor and pulse until onions are blended.
  6. Use a potato masher to mash remaining vegetables in the pain, leaving some larger pieces as desired.  Add mixture from food processor and continue to cook in pan until all water is absorbed and mash reaches desired consistency. 
  7. Stir in butter and more salt to taste and serve warm.

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