Try one – or all three! – these Latin side dishes, perfect for serving up this Thanksgiving. Pictured here: Llapingachos de camote, sweet potato patties stuffed with creamy cheese. (Photo/Courtesy Layla Pujol)

Countdown to Thanksgiving: 3 amazing side dishes with sabor

I don’t know about you, but growing up in a Puerto Rican/Dominican household meant that Thanksgiving dinner often included arroz con gandules,  lasagna and guineos en escabeche – served right alongside  the quintessential American sides of mashed potatoes and stuffing. And it turns out I’m not alone in expecting a variety of side dishes at the Thanksgiving table; an informal survey of friends and co-workers confirmed that the sides are as highly anticipated – and sometimes even more so – than the turkey.

RELATED: In search of “pavochón”—Puerto Rico’s delectable answer to the Thanksgiving turkey

With that in mind, here’s an idea: why not share some new side dishes at your dinner this year in order to introduce some new Thanksgiving traditions? After all – as evidenced by the annual Thanksgiving celebration at my house – there are no rules.

First: a roasted pumpkin and red pepper soup by Mexican home cook and blogger Nancy Lopez-McHugh. Thick and luscious, it’s the perfect accompaniment – using the pumpkin that’s in season, no less! – to balance out the bold flavors of other dishes you might be serving up. Then there are Chef Ingrid Hoffman’s stuffed mushrooms. Stuffed with fragrant, spicy chorizo, this is a veggie side dish that will have even the kids asking for more. Finally, Ecuadorian food blogger Layla Pujol shares her recipe for llapingachos de camote with us. These gorgeous sweet potato patties are stuffed with cheese and topped with red pickled onions, making them a protein-packed, filling side dish option for visiting vegetarians. Whether you make one or all three of these luscious Latin side dishes, know that they’ll be right at home on your Thanksgiving table – even alongside the lasagna.

Countdown to Thanksgiving: 3 amazing side dishes with sabor soup food NBC Latino NewsRoasted Spanish Pumpkin and red pepper soup 

1 small Spanish onion (or shallot), peeled and halved

3 garlic cloves, peeled

300 gm or just over ½ lb sweet red peppers, seeded

460 gm or 1 lb. ready roasted Spanish pumpkin (or variety of choice) and skin removed

½ tsp smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton ahumado)

salt & finely ground black pepper, to taste

a little vegetable broth if needed (I used about ⅓ cup)

**Please notice that I used pumpkin that had been roasted the day before. If need be, roast the pumpkin alongside the peppers and onion.**

1. Preheat oven to 190c or 375f and roast the peppers, onion and garlic. The garlic will only need to roast for about 5 minutes, remove and set aside. Roast the onion and peppers for about 20 minutes but keep an eye so as not to burn the vegetables. Remove from oven and place in a seeled container for about 8 minutes. (This is to help make the pepper skin peel off easier.) Remove skin from peppers.

2. Cube the roasted and peeled pumpkin and place in blender. Add the roasted and peeled red peppers, garlic, onion, salt, ground black pepper, and paprika.

3. Blend until smooth. If need be, add a little bit of vegetable broth to help the blending. Check consistency and if it is not to desired texture add a little bit more vegetable broth.

To serve:

If serving warm: Place all ingredients in a pot and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Serve drizzled with olive oil, freshly chopped arugula and crusty bread of choice.

If serving cold: After blending the ingredients place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Serve drizzled with olive oil, freshly chopped arugula and crusty bread of choice.

CH3 stuff mushroom 0965Chorizo-stuffed mushrooms

From “Latin d’lite,” by Ingrid Hoffman (Penguin Group/Chica Worldwide LLC)

Makes 6 servings

cooking spray

6 4-inch portobello mushrooms, stems removed

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

3 ounces raw Mexican chorizo, with casings removed and crumbled

2 slices soft whole-wheat bread, crusts trimmed and discarded, and torn

1 2-ounce piece reduced-fat pepper Jack cheese

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a medium baking sheet with nonstick spray.

2. Chop 2 of the mushrooms. Place the remaining 4 mushrooms on the baking sheet.

3. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped mushroom caps, onions, and chorizo. Cook, stirring occasionally, breaking up the chorizo with the side of a spoon, until the mushroom caps are very tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

4. Pulse the bread slices in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a small bowl. Add the cheese to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add to the bread crumbs, mix well, and season with salt and pepper.

5. Spoon equal amounts of the chorizo mixture into the mushroom caps and sprinkle evenly with the bread crumb mixture. Lightly spray the tops with cooking spray. Bake until the filling is hot and the topping is lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

6. Serve hot.

inside post sweet potatoLlapingachos de camote (Sweet potato patties stuffed with cheese)

6-7 sweet potatoes, about 3 pounds, peeled and cut in large chunks

2 tablespoon oil or butter

½ cup finely chopped white onion

1-2 teaspoons ground achiote

1 cup grated quesillo, queso fresco or mozzarella cheese – or if preferred, use a mix of these cheese

Salt to taste

To serve:

Salsa de mani or peanut sauce (click here for the recipe)

Curtido de cebollas or lime pickled red onions (click here for the recipe)

Aji or hot sauce

Avocado slices

1. Boil the sweet potatoes until soft, about 20 minutes.

2. Heat the oil or butter over medium heat in a frying pan, add the onions and achiote, cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.3

3. Mash the sweet potatoes with the onion achiote mix, add salt to taste.

4. Cover the mashed sweet potatoes and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour.

5. Make small golf size balls with the sweet potato mash.

6. Make a hole in the middle of each ball and fill it with the grated or crumbled cheese.

7. Gently shape the dough into thick patties and let rest in the refrigerator for about ½ to 1 hour (if you have the time).

8. Cook the patties on a hot griddle until browned on each side, about 5-7 minutes per side – adjust based on the temperature of your griddle. Turn them gently as they are very delicate.

9. Serve with salsa de mani or peanut sauce, lime pickled red onions, avocado slices and hot sauce.

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