Sides,  Thanksgiving,  Vegetables

Corn, Kale and Butternut Squash Saute

When I was growing up our Thanksgiving menu consisted of a big, gorgeous turkey, mashed potatoes, candied yams, green beans, salad, pasta, meatballs and sausage, pumpkin pie and birthday cake.  Later that evening, sheet trays of homemade Sicilian pizza would be brought out just in case anyone was still hungry.

Pasta was served not only on Sundays, but all holidays, along with the meatballs and sausage as my father was not that fond of turkey.    As for the birthday cake, well, that was for me.  Since my birthday falls close to Thanksgiving and all the relatives were gathered together anyway, my birthday was celebrated.

A few things changed through the years as families became blended.  Serving pasta on Thanksgiving seemed a but much for those not raised in an Italian family.  Birthday cake was promptly removed as I never did like sharing my birthday with the turkey and everyone was too stuffed for pizza!

So as a few traditions were dropped, a few new ones came onboard.  Corn became a new tradition when my kids started preschool.  They brought home these little baskets decorated as a turkey with glued on feathers and wobbly eyes.  They told me all about how the Indians taught the Pilgrims to grow corn and then shared together this feast to thank God for their bounty and blessing.  Not one Thanksgiving goes by without my remembering when they told me that story in their little voices and corn is always now served.

This colorful and healthy saute of veggies can be prepped a day ahead by cutting up the butternut squash and storing it in the fridge, or even one step further by sauting the butternut squash and storing it cooked until the final quick saute while the turkey is resting.  If available, look for the dark blue green, Lacinato kale as it’s a bit sweeter and tender than the curly kale.  This is definitely a welcomed healthy side dish and leftovers, if any, would be fabulous in a hash with turkey.

Corn, Kale and Butternut Squash Saute

1/4 cup of diced pancetta

2 cups of diced butternut squash, cut tiny to resemble the size of the corn

2 cups of corn, fresh from 3-4 ears of corn or frozen

2 green onions, thinly sliced

6 cups of chopped kale, tough stems removed, or fresh spinach

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

In a large saute pan, cook the pancetta until crisp and remove.  Add in the butternut squash and saute until brown and caramelized.  To make ahead, remove the golden squash and refrigerate overnight.

Reheat the saute pan if beginning the next day, adding in a touch of olive oil if necessary and add in the corn to the butternut squash.  Saute about 5 minutes and then add in the kale and seasonings.  Toss together to gentle wilt the kale, about 5 minutes longer. Serves 8.


I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.


  • petit4chocolatier

    Sounds like my growing up on the holidays! Feast after the feast : )
    It has changed now too.

    I love this beautifully healthy dish. This would be delightful as a light lunch too! I haven’t eaten kale for awhile, and am going to try this recipe with it.

  • Mandy - The Complete Cook Book

    What a robust Thanksgiving menu you enjoyed as a child, although I am pleased you now celebrate your birthday on it’s own and not as part of Thanksgiving.
    What a lovely memory from when your little ones were at school that you now incorporate corn into your Thanksgiving tradition.
    Have a beautiful weekend,
    🙂 Mandy

  • ChgoJohn

    Here I thought we had a lot of food on our holidays. We had chestnuts later in the evening but they cannot compare to having pizza served. You win! 🙂
    I like the sound of this dish, Linda, but really love the idea of using it for turkey hash. That really does sounds good, worthy of cooking some turkey just so that this sauté can be made. I’m not at all familiar with Lacinato kale but will look for it now. I’ll be heading to “my” Italian market in a little while and will see if they have it. Thanks for the heads-up!
    Have a great week, Linda!

    • Linda

      Oh, of course the chestnuts!! Actually a platter of assorted nuts and fresh anise was served as well! There was soo much food!! I hope you find the Lacinato kale!

  • Kristy

    What a sweet remembrance of your kids at Thanksgiving Linda! 🙂 I just cherish these little voices and know I will miss them someday. This side dish is so light and refreshing. It would make a welcome side dish at our Thanksgiving as well!

    • Linda

      I can virtually enjoy your little ones now! They always make me smile and I can just feel like I’m right there in your kitchen with you all!! I hope you try this out, my son just loves kale so I’m always trying to fit it into our side dishes.

  • Caroline

    Pasta served every holiday? I wouldn’t mind that one bit. Well, even though that tradition was dropped, it sounds like some other great ones took its place. 🙂 This saute sounds delicious, healthy and light. I would love to have this at my Thanksgiving to balance out all the carb filled dishes!

  • Lisa

    Coming from an Italian family, I can relate to having pasta at every holiday! Actually, I remember as a kid not having turkey on Thanksgiving day! We had lasagna, gnocchi, meatballs, maybe my aunt would make roasted chicken with oven roasted potatoes. I think I was in high school when my aunt first attempted to make a traditional Thanksgiving meal and from then on it stayed but we also had pasta on the side for my dad and the uncles!

    This year we are having Thanksgiving on my husbands side and I’m in charge of a vegetable side dish. This recipe is perfect and I’m going to make it, thanks for sharing!

    • Linda

      You know Lisa, I would hear them talk about not having the turkey too, but my parents would try to take on all the “American” holidays, even though my dad just really didn’t like turkey!! My sister’s Italian in-laws would make cornish hens instead of the turkey, so I know exactly what you are saying!! I hope you do make this dish, it’s truly a colorful addition to the table!

  • Geni

    We are definitely looking for some healthy vegetarian side dishes to compliment our meal Linda and this one seems like the perfect addition. Happy almost birthday! What a nice story of your kids coming home to tell you about the first Thanksgiving. 🙂

    • Linda

      Thanks Geni! And don’t we wish we could keep them little and cute forever!! But I love the change as well, they are more like little adults to me now and I’m so proud of them both – as I know you are of yours!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *