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.