Good food grown by great farmers is the theme of this special feature on Thanksgiving and the Saratoga Farmers’ Market. Both good food and great farmers are what make spending Saturday mornings at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market enticing, particularly in the feasting months of November and December. The market moves tomorrow to its winter location at the Lincoln Baths in the Saratoga Spa State Park, and as the opening bell rings, vendors will be unveiling their arrays of colorful, richly nutritious produce, meats, dairy, and other products. It’s a perfect time to sample the best of fall and to start planning and stocking up for Thanksgiving.
So how does one begin planning a Thanksgiving menu? A traditional answer to that question is with the main star of the table, the turkey. Ever since Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863, the big gobbler bird has been regarded as the traditional food of the feast. We all know, of course, that this tradition is more myth than reality, as historic reports document the first European settlers in the United States feasting with Native peoples during the first so-called Thanksgiving on venison, eels, and in some regions of the Northeast crabs and lobster. Turkey gained its acclaim partly through an 1827 novel entitled Northwood: A Tale of New England in which author Sarah Josepha Hale writes of a thanksgiving menu with turkey at the head of the table. There are other meats, pickles, preserves, vegetables, sweets, fruits, and of course pies at Hale’s table. But it is the turkey that reigns supreme.
Getting a fresh-from-the-farm turkey does require some advance planning. Currently, three of our regular market vendors are raising turkeys for sale at the market. It is best to order a turkey in advance, though Malta Ridge Orchard & Garden will have a few extras on hand on Saturdays, Nov. 12 and 19.
But is it the turkey that makes the feast truly Thanksgiving? Or is it our own favorite foods, our traditions, and our willingness to experiment? We at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market encourage you to see Thanksgiving as a celebration of main dishes and also sides, and to perhaps give the traditional foods that have graced the table an innovative twist. The following articles, photos, and recipes are aimed at getting your creativity flowing. Give them a look and stop by the Friends of the Market table at the market in November to share your ideas, experiments, and recipes with us.
To get a farm-raised turkey, contact the following Saratoga Farmers’ Market vendors:
1. Blind Buck Farm
346 Blind Buck Road
Salem, NY 12865
2. Malta Ridge Orchard and Gardens
Van Aernam Road
Ballston Spa, NY, 12020
Phone: (518) 365-6015
Mariaville Mushroom Men
2978 Duanesburg Churches Road
Delanson, NY 12053
Recipes: Celebrating the Sides
*Indicates ingredients currently available at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market
No turkey is complete without stuffing. Inside or outside the bird, it is delicious. The basics for stuffing are bread cubes, onion, garlic, celery and broth. Add an apple, or dried cranberries, chopped pecans, sausage or mushrooms. Stuffing is flexible. Make it your own. This recipe is adapted from the Cambridge (NY) Co-op’s Newsletter and features Murray Hollow bread:
One loaf of Murray Hollow bread, torn or cubed (15-20 cups)*
1 large onion, chopped*
2-4 celery stalks with leaves, chopped
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced*
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 apple, chopped*
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme*
1 teaspoon of fresh sage*
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley*
1 cup of turkey stock/broth
1. Spread the bread on 2 large baking sheets and bake at 350 degrees, stirring occasionally until dry (about 20 minutes). Pour into a large bowl.
2. Cook onion, celery, and garlic in butter until the wilted and onion is transparent. Do not brown.
3. Add apple and herbs. Cook a few more minutes (about 3 minutes), stirring occasionally.
4. Remove from heat, add to bread and mix well, add salt and pepper to taste. Add broth to moisten slightly.
Place in a casserole/baking dish. Cook at 350 degrees, covered for at least 20 minutes, then remove the cover and cook for at least 15 minutes more until lightly browned on top.
Cucumber and Gin Tonic
Whet your appetite with this light, refreshing mixed drink, featuring gin from the Springbrook Distillery and cucumbers and fresh mint from Shushan Hydroponics. Recipe is adapted from The Minimalist Baker.
6 mint leaves*
¼ lime, sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons gin*
½ cup tonic water
4-6 cucumber slices*
1. Muddle mint, lime and sugar. Add gin and shake.
2. Pour in glass filled with ice cubes, top with tonic water.
3. Add cucumber slices and a lime garnish.
Glazed Sweet Potato Stacks
Potatoes and/or sweet potatoes almost always find a spot on a Thanksgiving table, as a nutritious, filling and deeply loved starch. Often, they are baked, scalloped, or mashed, or in the case of sweet potatoes made into pies Try these simple glazed stacks from Dessert for Two as an alternative.
2 pounds of sweet potatoes*
4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup maple syrup*
½ cup chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Peel and slice sweet potatoes into 1 inch thick circles.
3. Melt butter in bowl. Add potatoes to bowl and coat them with butter.
4. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet with out touching. Sprinkle potatoes with salt.
5. Roast for 20 minutes. Flip and roast for another 20 minutes.
6. For syrup: Bring maple syrup to boil in small sauce pan. Add the walnuts and bring back to boil. Cook for another 1 minute and remove from heat.
7. Pour the sauce over the sweet potatoes stacks and serve.
Roasted roots and sprouts
Celebrating abundance in November, in some ways, is all about roots and brussels sprouts. Think about tangy radishes, creamy turnips, and sweet carrots and parsnips combined with the cruciferous punch of our seasonal brussels sprouts. This recipe, adapted from Emilie Raffa, author of The Clever Carrot, is easy to modify. Serve your roots roasted or sweeten them up with the following glaze.
¼ cup country mustard*
2 Tablespoons maple syrup*
2 Tablespoons apricot jam*
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 medium carrots, assorted colors, peeled*
4 parsnips, peeled*
2 cups Brussels sprouts, cut from the stalk and rinsed well*
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Whip ingredients for the glaze in a large bowl. Set aside.
3. Cut the carrots and parsnips in even sizes for even cooking.
4. Cut the sprouts in half, lengthwise, if large.
5. Add vegetables to glaze and toss to coat.
6. Pour vegetables onto sheet pan.
7. Roast for 15 minutes. Toss vegetables. Continue to cook for another 20 minutes. Check if vegetable are tender, if not, continue cooking until they done.
Fall Harvest Couscous Salad
This recipe, adapted from Foodie Crush, features such fall harvest Farmers’ Market staples as butternut squash, shallots, and parsley and sage. Try experimenting with other market items such as apples, pea shoots, or even finely chopped kale.
1½ cup Israeli or Pearl couscous
3 Tablespoon olive oil
1 fennel bulb, sliced thin*
2½ cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into small pieces*
1 shallot, sliced thin, about 2 Tablespoons*
3 Tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
¾ cup dried cranberries
½ cup golden raisins
1½ cup apple cider, reserve ¼ cup*
¼ cup canola oil
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped*
1. Bring water to boil in a medium saucepan, add couscous and bring back to a boil then lower to medium and cook for about 8 minutes, until al dente. Drain in a colander. Do not rinse. Set aside in a mixing bowl to cool.
2. In a large bowl, add 2 tablespoons of oil, fennel, butternut squash. Toss to coat. Place fennel and butternut squash on separate sheet pans and cook at 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Use a fork to test for tenderness. Fennel will be done before squash. Set aside.
3. In large saute pan, add 1 Tablespoon of oil and shallot. Cook for one minute, stirring often. Add sage, cranberries, raisins, and cider. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the cider is cooked down. Add roasted fennel and squash and continue to cook for several minutes. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooked cider for the vinaigrette. Transfer the remaining mixture to the couscous and toss gently.
4. In a small bowl, mix the reserved cider, canola oil, and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add to couscous. Garnish with parsley.
5. Let sit for 30 minutes or more.
Pumpkins were part of the traditional New England Thanksgiving table, largely because they are abundant during fall harvests. While pie is the go-to preparation for pumpkins, we invite you to consider making them into a side dish with this recipe, adapted from Kim Serverson of The New York Times. This recipe features market pumpkins and vegetables, Murray Hollow bread, and Longview Farm’s High Rock Cheese in place of the Gruyere below)
2 small pumpkins (or 6 mini pumpkins) orange or white*
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 scallions (about 1/3 cup) chopped*
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped*
4 cups Swiss chard (or baby kale) stemmed and roughly chopped (about 4 ounces)*
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup homemade breadcrumbs, lightly toasted*
2/3 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (used Homestead Artisan’s High Rock Cheese)*
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ cup heavy cream*
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash the pumpkins and remove the tops as if for a Jack-o’-lantern.
2. Scoop out the seeds and stringy insides with a spoon, leaving the flesh intact. Rinse out the cavity.
3. Melt butter in a saute pan over medium heat, then add the scallions and cook for a few minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so until fragrant. Add the swiss chard and cook until it just wilts, about 3 or 4 minutes.
4. Remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice and transfer to a bowl. Add the bread crumbs, cheese, pine nuts, and nutmeg. Mix well, and then stir in cream.
5. Divide the filling into the pumpkins and replace the tops. Rub a baking dish with olive oil and arrange the filled pumpkins in the dish.
6. Bake for 1 hour, watching to make sure the tops don’t brown too much. Test the pumpkin by piercing with a fork. If the skin doesn’t pierce easily, remove the tops and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. Replace the tops and serve hot.
Farmers’ Market Apple Crisp
(Saratoga Apple’s “First Crisp” tasting event found that the Northern Spy apple is the most popular choice for this classic dessert. Belle de Boskoop’s were a close second. Try this recipe as your Thanksgiving dessert with one of those varieties or pick your own.)
1/3 cup white whole-wheat flour
¼ cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
7 Apples, peeled and sliced*
¼ cup maple syrup or honey*
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Make topping by combining flour, sugar, oats and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture is crumbly. Stir in nuts.
3. Make the filling by place apples in a large bowl and drizzling maple syrup or honey over them. Add cinnamon and toss until combined.
4. Place apple mixture into an 8 inch square baking dish. Sprinkle topping over apples.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or plain low fat yogurt.
Option: Replace butter with equal amounts of melted coconut oil.
(Articles by Himanee Gupta-Carlson; photos and recipes by Pattie Garrett)