A New World Dinner
Harvest time has always brought humans together to feast and frolic, and to give thanks for the bounty of the earth. For Canadians, the National day to give thanks is on the second Monday in October every year.
While the American Thanksgiving is closely associated with the landing of the pilgrims at Plymouth Mass in 1620, Canadian Thanksgiving roots run deeper. In fact, in 1578 Martin Frobisher held a formal ceremony in Newfoundland to celebrate and give thanks for surviving a trip to our northern Atlantic waters.
What would you serve for Thanksgiving Dinner if you could only use native North American foods?
I would start with a salad of tomatoes, avocado and sunflower seeds, dressed with pressed cashew nuts mixed with maple syrup.
Turkey with wild rice and chestnuts or pecans would be using authentic North American foods, but it wouldn't be roasted because roasting foul is a distinctly European method of cooking birds. My authentic North American turkey dish would be cut into parts and simmered in a mole (mole ay) of spiced sauces and pastes of nuts and seeds, spices and herbs, peppers and tomatoes.
Side dishes in our strictly native North American foods meal would consist of potatoes, corn, beans, pumpkin and squash. Dessert would have to be something with chocolate or vanilla or peanuts or all three.
Try my easy and authentic Maple Nut Squash this Thanksgiving. It's designed to be made in advance and popped into the hot oven to heat through while the big bird (roasted of course) is carved.
Maple Nut Squash
13-inch x 9-inch (3L) baking pan, lightly oiled
preheat oven to 350°F (180° C)
3 cups cubed cooked squash
1 cup applesauce or chutney
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
freshly ground sea salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans or cashew nuts
1. In prepared baking pan, combine squash, applesauce, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg. Grind some salt and pepper over. Cover with a lid or foil and heat in preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes. Garnish with toasted nuts.
To roast squash: Use Hubbard, butternut, acorn or pumpkin for this side dish. Scrub and prick with a fork. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in a 350° F (180° C) oven for 45 to 65 minutes, or until the flesh pierces easily with the tip of a sharp knife. Remove from oven and cool. Cut into quarters, scoop out seeds and set aside or discard. Trim away the rind. Cut the flesh into 1-inch cubes and freeze or store, covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.