Best Thanksgiving Side Dish Ever


Just a recipe today. And Oh!!! What a recipe it is.

Today and for the rest of this week, I am going to share with you some recipes I love to make for Thanksgiving. I am not going to do a turkey. First of all, I have never done a turkey. Second, there are plenty of recipes out there for turkey. If Thanksgiving is at my home I tend to make either Cornish hens or chicken breasts with artichokes. On occasion I have cooked a turkey breast. But a whole turkey? Never.

What I will be sharing this week are lots of wonderful side dishes. This one is a Barefoot Contessa, or Ian Garten, recipe from her book, Family Style, Clarkson Potter Publishers; NY, 2002.

This was the  very first Barefoot Contessa recipe I ever tried. I always liked watching her on the Food Network. I liked her down to earth and easy going personality. This recipe was so good that  since then I have tried many more of her recipes. Her hash browns are the best in the universe.

There are a lot of versions of this recipe. This is the best of the bunch in my opinion. Mostly because it is so simple. In other words, there are not too many ingredients vying for my taste bud’s attention. In most matters I believe whole-heartedly in the KISS principle. Keep It Simple Sweetheart! Most of the other recipes for roasting winter vegetables I have tried use various and sundry spices. This one uses only olive oil, and salt and pepper, with a garnish of chopped parsley. And this is the only one that uses all four of these fall vegetables: butternut squash, carrots, parsnips, and sweet potato. 

The star of this show should be the winter vegetables: butternut squash, carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes. In this recipe the vegtables  are the stars. All is right with the world now.

I don’t think I had ever had butternut squash before I tried this recipe. But I like a lot of other squash; so I figured how different can it be. I don’t remember ever eating parsnips before either. I do, however, have a vague memory that my mother used them in her chicken stock.

Roasting does something WONDERFUL to vegetables!!!!!!  It sweetens them. I think the correct and proper cooking term is caramelization. What ever happens to them it is wonderful.

Featured Recipe    Roasted Winter Vegetables
This is what you will need to serve 8 people:

1 pound carrots peeled

1 pound parsnips peeled

1 large sweet potato

1 small butternut squash peeled & seeded

3 tablespoons good olive oil

1 ½ teaspoon Kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Before I go any further, let me answer a few questions that may have popped into your head.

NOTE ON THE RECIPE:  I halved the recipe. This recipe is very easy to increase or decrease. It is very easy to make as much or as little as you want. If eight is too much for you, cut in half. If ‘for eight’ is not enough, make more.

NOTE ON DIRECTIONS: I am going to go into more detail in the directions, especially on the prep of the vegetables, than Ina Garten does in her cookbook. I don’t know how many experienced Vs inexperienced Vs novice cooks I have here at MTTD. I certainly do not want some one to decide not to try this wonderful and delicious recipe just because they are not sure how to peel and chop a butternut squash or any of the other veggies for that matter.

TIME NOTES: All of this peeling and chopping may sound like it takes a LOT of time. It does not. It goes very quickly. I peeled and chopped all four vegetables in less than 50 minutes; and that time included stopping and taking 5 or 6 pictures of each step in the process. So I am thinking 20 to 30 minutes top to do the prep work.

Very little time really  considering all of the compliments you are going to receive with this recipe!!! Trust me on this matter. Please.

Also, I have often cut up all the vegetables, place them on the baking sheet, cover them with foil or plastic wrap early in the morning. I then keep them in the refrigerator until about 30 minutes before I place them in the oven. So you can do the prep work way before the roasting time.

I am a great believer in what Irma Rombauer said. For those who don’t know, she is the author of The Joy of Cooking. Until Julia Child came along, Irma Rombauer was THE cook of the day. Yes, dear friends, I am that old.

She says: When cooking, be nonchalant and proceed with an attitude of victory over all difficulties, imaginary or otherwise.

So with that thought in mind, let’s get started.

Here is what you do:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Peel and cut into 1 to 1¼ inch cubes all of the vegetables. All of the vegetables will shrink while baking, so don’t cut them too small.

There are different ways to peel and cut the squash. I do it this way. Other people do it another way. Do it the way you feel most comfortable. I like the first way because I do not have to slice all the way down that long squash. Cutting the long neck off first makes it easier me, a non-professional cook, to get the job done.

And as I have told you before you have to keep in mind this is a gal who  flunked paper cutting in 5th grade. This is the best I can do. And all things considered, it is not that bad!  Of course the nuns I had in school would be mortified I had a knife in my hands these days. But what can I say???

When cutting for this recipe I work in an assembly line fashion. I have the baking sheet next to me and my cutting board. As I finish peeling and dicing I simply throw the vegetables onto the baking sheet.

The cut up squash on baking sheet.

Now peel the carrots and parsnips.

This is how I cut carrots and parsnips. Slicing a long carrot or parsnip in half is not easy. So I first cut them into halves or thirds first, like this. 

From there I cut those  smaller pieces in half through the length of the carrot like this.

From there it is easy to cut into 1 to 1¼ inch cubes. Or something approximating a cube keeping in mind my cutting problem.

Do the same with the parsnips. Now when the top of the parsnips are really fat, like they were today, I cut the fattest end in half, and then cut those two pieces into half again. From there I can cut 1 inch pieces.

Now on to the sweet potato. Cut the potato into four slices lengthwise, then cut those as you would for French fries. Then cut those pieces into one inch cubes and place those on the baking sheet too.

By now all of the vegetables should be on the baking sheet; or sheets if you are making the full recipe.

Drizzle with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss well. I use my fingers to do that. Make sure all the pieces are well coated with oil.

Bake for 25-35 minutes until all of the vegetables are tender……….

 …………..turning once during the cooking with a metal spatula.

Now chop the parsley.

When the vegetables are cooked through and browned nicely place them in a serving bowl and sprinkle with the chopped parsley. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

Bon Appetit!!!!!

My lunch. When something looks this good, and tastes this divine it doesn’t matter how the vegetables were cut now, does it?


1 pound carrots                                 $0.89             

1 pound parsnips                               $2.20

1 large sweet potato                          $0.99

1 small butternut squash                    $1.91

3 tablespoons olive oil                        $0.36             

2 tablespoons parsley                        $0.03

1 ½ teaspoon Kosher salt                  $0.08

½ teaspoon black pepper                  $0.07

Total cost = $6.53
Cost per person = $0.82

Quote of the Day

There is nothing so annoying as to have two people talking when you’re busy interrupting.

Mark Twain. 

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2 comments to Best Thanksgiving Side Dish Ever

  • Now this is a recipe I would love. I really appreciate the detailed directions. My first thought was how will I ever cut a butternut squash into pieces (I’ve only roasted them whole in the past) and my second was that this will take a lot of time. You answered those questions.

    Even if it does take some time, it’s a worthwhile investment for me. If I made this recipe for eight, I would divide it up, freeze it in small containers, and use the results over many, many days.

    I’ve tried vigorous scrubbing of parsnips – rather than peeling – and it seems to work OK. Same for sweet potatoes.

    I have a 1964 edition of The Joy of Cooking. It’s still my cooking bible.

    I’m so glad you introduced me to roasting vegetables! Thank you.

    • Roberta

      Jan, Thank you for gracing the pages of MTTD. Thank you for your thoughtful and interesting comments. Your depth and breadth of knowledge is incredible.

      But thank you most of all for all of the wonderful complements you give.

      You make my day.

      I am jealous – a 1964 Joy of Cooking. How wonderful.