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A Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dish

November 23, 2009
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This year, since Thanksgiving falls so close to my due date (just 3 weeks to go!), my family is coming to us for the holiday! Which thrills me to no end because I love cooking Thanksgiving dinner. I love menu planning, figuring out the timing (what can be made ahead?  what goes into the oven when?), eating all the food (of course), but most of all, having everyone gathered around the table for a festive fall meal.

My tendency when I make Thanksgiving dinner is to keep a few tried-and-true standard dishes that I’ve grown up with and loved, but also to audition a few new dishes each year. Ours is not a house where the same dishes will show up ad infinitum for the rest of our lives…there’s just too many tasty things to try! However, the two dishes that we always have on the menu are butternut squash and apple bake, and this marbleized root vegetable puree. (Yes, we love carbs in my family.)

I first had this dish about 10 years ago at a potluck hosted by the faculty member whose lab I worked in during college…and since then, it’s been a regular feature on our Thanksgiving table. It’s a real looker of a dish, stunning in its autumnal colors and swirls, but beyond aesthetics, it’s a great way to showcase the many root vegetables in season this time of  year. I was lucky enough this year to get all of the ingredients (well, except for the butter, cream and nutmeg) from our Full Plate Farms and Finger Lakes Fruit Bowl CSA shares: Yukon Gold potatoes, turnips, parsnips, carrots, and a pear.

The carrots are cooked and pureed with a little butter and nutmeg; separately, potatoes, turnips, parsnips and a pear are cooked and mashed together.

The orange and creamy-white purees are swirled together in a pan, drizzled with a little more butter and showered with a faint dusting of more nutmeg.

The resulting dish is savory with a tinge of sweetness and a hint of nutmeg, beautiful to look at, and (in my opinion) a really interesting alternative to traditional mashed potatoes.

And finally, I had to post this last picture, because it’s the state of my life right now: every time I go to take a picture and look down, this big belly gets in the way!! Baby Eggs on Sunday will be here before we know it, and we’re so excited — much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!

More to come tomorrow on our Thanksgiving menu this year, as well as a round-up of other menu ideas if you’re still looking for a little inspiration!


Marbleized Root Vegetable Puree

recipe from Bon Appetit

view printable recipe

This is a delicious and beautiful way to showcase all of the root vegetables in season around Thanksgiving. It can be made and assembled a day or two ahead, stored in the refrigerator, and baked just before serving.


2 pounds potatoes (I like Yukon Gold or Russet), peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
8 ounces turnips, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
8 ounces parsnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium pear, peeled, cored, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup whipping cream
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter

1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Additional ground nutmeg


Preheat oven to 350°F and butter a 2-quart baking dish (I use a 9×9 square ceramic baking pan.)

Place the potato, turnip, parsnip and pear chunks in a large pot of cold salted water. Bring it to a boil, and cook until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the veg and return them to the pan; continue to cook over low heat for another minute until any excess moisture evaporates. Add the cream and 5 tablespoons of butter, and then mash until smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Meanwhile, cook the carrots in another pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain them, let cool just slightly, and transfer them to a food processor. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, and puree until smooth (this usually takes me a few minutes, and I pause periodically to scrape down any chunks on the sides of the processor bowl.) Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Spoon the potato and carrot purees, alternating by 1/2 cupfuls, into the buttered baking dish. Draw a knife through the purees to marbleize, then drizzle 1 tablespoon of melted butter over the whole dish. Sprinkle with a little additional nutmeg. Cover with foil (at this point you can refrigerate it for a day or two.) Bake the foil-covered puree until it’s heated through, about 35 minutes (or 45 minutes if chilled.)

Serve 8-10.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2009 12:26 pm

    I love the last picture! So excited for you 🙂

  2. govind permalink
    November 23, 2009 1:16 pm

    wonderful recipe– we just had a baby a two months ago, we know how you feel. we’re also in ithaca and enjoy the winter root vegetables!

  3. November 23, 2009 2:26 pm

    We love carbs too, and the last pic is darling 🙂

  4. Ally permalink
    November 23, 2009 4:30 pm

    I love your blog!! Your recipes always look amazing and this one does as well, I particularly like how you show the pictures of the fresh ingredients you use along the way. I am going to try and make the World Peace Cookies for our cookie exchange this year. I like to try a new cookie every year in addition to the 4 or 5 family standards. The first year was a miss but last year was a hit so I’m very excited to try these.
    I’m also very excited for Baby Eggs On Sunday to hatch!! That last picture is classic!! Good luck and congratulations again, I hope you have a wonderful holiday.

  5. November 23, 2009 6:39 pm

    Gorgeous. I love mixing different root vegetables together and I love the look of the finished product.

  6. November 23, 2009 7:46 pm

    This is so pretty and sounds delicious to me! Great idea.

  7. November 23, 2009 10:57 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous. I wonder if one could mix in some sauteed leeks?

  8. November 24, 2009 2:46 am

    This looks delicious. I just might have to give this a try. Happy Thanksgiving all 🙂

  9. -mis permalink
    November 25, 2009 10:05 am

    SO I went to bed last night and woke up this morning with a sore throat…and I’ve got a fever now, but I’ve been attempting to cultivate my optimistic side and tell myself that I will wake up feeling better tomorrow, after going to bed early tonight and attempting to sleep in a bit in the morning (thank God for planning/cooking ahead)!
    I’m commenting with this because when I have a fever, I cry at the drop of a proverbial hat…and scrolling down to see the last picture of your Baby Eggs on Sunday BUMP, I burst into little hands-in-the-air-sobs and let out a little sore-throat-ed ‘YAY!!’. Congrats Amy (+ B!!)…and a Merry Thanksgiving to you and yours (and to all those reading this too-long comment)!

  10. Mel mel permalink
    November 29, 2010 3:15 am

    I made this for Thanksgiving this year and it was a hit! The colors were just so pretty and festive and everyone loved it. Definitely a staple for my Thanksgiving spread.

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