So what side dishes are on your menu for Thanksgiving? If you’re like a lot of folks, über-sugary, sweet potato casserole might be making an appearance on your table.
Perhaps this is heresy to admit, but I’ve never been a fan of this traditional Thanksgiving dish. Sadly sweet potatoes that have been drenched in brown sugar and marshmallows taste more like a kids’ cereal than a side dish. Sweet Potato Frosted Marshmallow Crunch, anyone?
While making this dish once a year is hardly a crime, I thought I’d suggest something new for your holiday menu. Switching things up can be fun, right? And if someone in your extended family is a sweet potato casserole die-hard, perhaps they can bring it this year? 🙂
So what do I suggest you make instead? One of my favorite ways to eat veggies is a type of dish called tian (I’ll be blogging about some more traditional versions after the New Year—I can’t wait!). Named after a French cooking dish from Provence, tians are all about cooking delicious roasted vegetables. For some fun I’ve been doing a little experimenting with fall vegetables, and I’ve come up with an absolutely amazing way to get your family eating some nutritious squash without all the sugar and marshmallows of sweet potato casserole. So grab hold of your favorite baking dish, and let’s get cooking!
- 2 delicata squash
- 2-3 medium red onions
- 3-4 granny smith apples (small), peeled and cored
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 T. butter, melted
- ¼ cup maple syrup or honey
- ½ teaspoon rosemary, chopped
- ½ teaspoon marjoram, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Butter or coconut oil to grease casserole dish
- Preheat your oven to 425F degrees.
- Get out a large casserole dish (15x10) and a pie plate for any extras. A couple smaller casserole dishes can work too.
- Prepare your vegetables and fruit. Wash the squash. Cut off its ends and cut it in half (NOT lengthwise—cut around the squash's middle.) Using an apple corer remove the seeds from the squash and set aside. Wash, peel, and core your apples. Skin your red onions and cut off their ends.
- Prepare your baking dish(es) by greasing lightly with butter or coconut oil.
- Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, cinnamon, butter, and maple syrup and set this dressing aside.
- Cut the cored squash, apples, and onions into thin slices (no thicker than ¼ inch).
- Now assemble your tian! Starting with a slice of delicata squash add a slice of apple then onion and set it on a plate. Make stacks and stacks of these little squash, apple, onion bundles.
- Fan out these bundles (almost like you're playing solitaire with them) and place them in your greased casserole dish. Try to get them somewhat evenly spaced, but it doesn't have to be perfect.
- Once you've lined your entire casserole dish with these bundles drizzle the dressing over your tian.
- Finally, season with rosemary, marjoram, and black pepper. I don't season with salt at this point—in fact, I usually let my guests season their own food with salt since tastes can really vary. If you do want to add salt, I wouldn’t add more than ½ teaspoon over the entire dish.
- Bake in a preheated 425F oven for 15 minutes. If the casserole dish is getting too dry sprinkle with some water, vegetable stock, or apple juice. You want the dish moist not wet.
- Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the edges of the squash, apples, and onions start to brown.
- Remove from the oven and let the tian cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!
If you’ve only got one oven, and all the other sides are cooking at 350F, just cook your tian at 350F. You may need to lengthen the cook time a little. Or when all the other sides are done, you can crank up the oven to 425F to get the veggies tender and slightly browned a little quicker.
Now this recipe looks more complicated than it really is (sorry! I’m going to try and improve my recipe writing skills). So to make this recipe less intimidating, here’s a quick, 5-step visual guide to help you get the idea. I took these photos when I made a squash, eggplant, onion, and tomato tian this summer, but I think it visually helps bring the process to life!
Although the cutting takes a little bit of prep time, once you’ve made a tian a couple of times, you’ll learn it’s easy enough that you’ll want to add it to a weeknight meal (remember that cooking muscle memory I talked about a couple posts ago?). And feel free to experiment! If you don’t have delicata squash, use another variety. Roasted tians are a simple, delicious way to eat many different kinds of veggies!
Have you made a tian before? Do you have questions about this recipe? Or do you want to share your personal twist on this recipe? Please, share it in the comments section below! Together we can learn and help each other create happier, healthier lives!
- If you struggle cutting thin, similarly-sized slices you might want to consider buying this mandoline slicer. I’ve found that food processors are just too rough to cut nice, even slices for tians, and there ends up being too much waste. So I use a mandolin slicer to cut the apples and onions in this recipe. PLEASE, though, be extra careful to not cut yourself. Always use the mandolin slicer’s tool to hold the vegetable or fruit—believe me I’ve learned the hard way on this. Nothing like slicing your fingertip to cramp your cooking style for the holidays! Finally, delicata squash has too thick of a skin for the mandolin slicer, so for this recipe just use a good, sharp kitchen knife and cut slowly! Happy Slicing!
- A great apple corer is a kitchen essential. I replaced my old, rusty one this summer with a new, OXO Good Grips corer and love it. If you don’t have an apple corer, or if you might need an upgrade like I did, I highly recommend this one. It’s sharp, easy to use, and does the job lickety-split!
- I love this 15×10 pyrex baking dish, but for the holidays I often bring out my white casserole dishes from Crate and Barrel.