Thanksgiving is the biggest food holiday in the country. As we face our second such holiday amid a pandemic, we may find ourselves in one of two camps: Eager to pull out all the stops, reinvigorating holiday traditions, or, perhaps, looking for ways to glide through with less hoopla and more relaxation. To that end, we at The Washington Post wanted to give readers options for how to feed their families and friends with the desired vibes: fancy or simple.

Some are in search of a project to provide a sense of normalcy in these (shudders to type this) unprecedented times. That means recipes that require a bit more preparation and planning, and a menu that gives guests a reason to dress up a little and maybe even put on hard pants. If this sounds like you, grab a tablecloth, bust out the nice dishes and take a look at Aaron’s fancy-ish holiday menu.

Others of us can’t fathom tackling anything close to the traditional Thanksgiving menu, but still want to find a way to express gratitude. In this instance, Becky’s simple and comforting Thanksgiving recipes are just what the doctor ordered. These recipes are designed to be hands-off, low-lift and full of clever tricks to make cooking as stress-free as possible – a holiday meal perfect for stretchy pants and a leisurely day.

If you find yourself somewhere in between, you can mix and match as you see fit. Aaron’s turkey with Becky’s focaccia and vegetables? Sounds like a winning combination to us. Just want to grab one of these recipes to add to your usual menu? In the words of Tabitha Brown, “That’s your business.” Because regardless of what you cook, we want it to be satisfying and low-stress.

Tarragon-Butter Roasted Spatchcocked (Butterflied) Turkey Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Tarragon-Butter Roasted Spatchcocked (Butterflied) Turkey

Active time: 30 minutes | Total time: 2 hours plus 2 days’ seasoning

10 to 12 servings

Aaron: I’ve always wanted to brine a turkey, but as someone who usually travels for Thanksgiving, it’s always been out of reach. Now is the time. A simple dry brine with just salt and a couple of days in the fridge leads to more flavorful meat and incredibly crispy skin. A compound butter with fresh tarragon, garlic, lemon zest and black pepper gets rubbed underneath and on top of the skin to infuse the turkey with flavor as it cooks. Spatchcocking, aka removing the backbone and flattening the bird, and a hot oven allow the turkey to cook in a fraction of the time compared to when kept whole, which helps it stays nice and moist. (A probe thermometer that stays in the turkey while it roasts is great for monitoring doneness without having to constantly open the oven.) Last but certainly not least: put those delicious pan drippings to good use and make gravy.

Make Ahead: The turkey needs to be seasoned and refrigerated for at least 1 day, but preferably 2 or 3 days, in advance.

Storage Notes: Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

INGREDIENTS

One (10- to 12-pound) turkey

1 tablespoon fine sea salt or table salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick/4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh tarragon

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and place a wire rack inside.

Set the turkey, breast side down, on a cutting board. Remove the giblets, if included. Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone, removing a strip about 2 inches wide; reserve the backbone and giblets for making stock. Turn the bird breast side up and use the heels of your hands to press down on the breast bone, flattening it slightly. Pat it dry with towels and sprinkle the salt evenly over both sides of the turkey. Transfer it to the prepared baking sheet, breast side up, tuck in the wing tips, if desired, and refrigerate (ideally on the bottom shelf, for food safety purposes), uncovered, for 1 or up to 3 days. (You’ll have better seasoned meat and crispier skin the longer it is refrigerated.)

In a small bowl, mix together the butter, garlic, tarragon, lemon zest and pepper until thoroughly combined. Gently slide your fingers under the skin of the turkey to separate it from the flesh along the breasts and thighs, being careful not to tear the skin. Don’t worry about not being able to separate it fully – just do as much as you can. Using your fingers, rub half of the compound butter directly on the meat underneath the skin. Massage the skin from the outside until the butter is distributed in an even layer. Rub the remaining compound butter all over the skin of the turkey as evenly as possible. Maneuver the bird so it fits on the baking sheet, but if the drumsticks hang over the pan’s edges, that’s OK.

Let the turkey sit at room temperature. Meanwhile, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Roast the turkey for 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thighs registers 165 degrees and the skin is crisp and nicely browned. (Note that sometimes the herbs in the butter can burn, which mostly affects appearance and less so flavor. If this is of concern to you, tent it with foil while it finishes cooking once the desired color is achieved.) Let the cooked turkey rest 20 to 30 minutes before carving.

Nutrition information per serving (about 8 ounces), based on 12 | Calories: 393; Total Fat: 26 g; Saturated Fat: 10 g; Cholesterol: 163 mg; Sodium: 958 mg; Carbohydrates: 1 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugar: 0 g; Protein: 39 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Recipe from Washington Post staff writer Aaron Hutcherson.

Cider-Braised Turkey Thighs with Potatoes and Apples Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Cider-Braised Turkey Thighs With Potatoes and Apples

Active time: 40 minutes | Total time: 90 minutes

4 to 8 servings

Becky: I never cared all that much about getting the crispiest skin on the Thanksgiving turkey or even the drama of bringing a whole bird to the table to be carved. Mostly I was interested in whatever tasted best and was easiest to make.

Last year, that led me to develop a one-pan dish of harissa-glazed turkey drumsticks roasted on a baking sheet. This year, I decided to continue with the single-dish theme by turning to my reliable Dutch oven. Worth repeating was the reliance on dark meat, the parts of which are generally more affordable than a whole bird or breast – the four thighs in this recipe cost me just about $10. Moreover, dark meat is rich in taste and forgiving, maintaining its tenderness and flavor as much as 30 degrees past white meat’s ideal temperature of 165 degrees (hat tip: America’s Test Kitchen). Since I did drumsticks last year, I turned to turkey thighs, which, much like my wine-braised chicken thighs, I presumed would do well in the Dutch oven.

Success! These cider-braised thighs turned out to be the mostly hands-off yet delectable main course that I would take over a whole bird or breast any day. Consulting with the queen of braises, aka cookbook author Molly Stevens, helped me nail the recipe.

First you brown four turkey thighs in the pot (they’re big enough that each can be easily carved into at least two servings after cooking). The browned bits left behind serve as the foundation for the braising liquid that will ultimately turn into rich, golden juices that all but eliminate the need, or desire, for a separate gravy. In keeping with the season, hard cider makes up the bulk of the braising liquid (chicken broth and/or unsweetened juice or cider would be fine for those avoiding alcohol), with cider vinegar and thyme for brightness. The liquid bathes a bed of potatoes, carrots and apples, on top of which sit the thighs. This lets the turkey juices render and mingle with the braising liquid and vegetables, while maintaining some of the crispness of the skin. Uncovering the pot toward the end of cooking helps with browning the food and concentrating the braising liquid without affecting the meltingly tender meat coaxed while the Dutch oven is sealed.

This recipe cooked best in a large oval Dutch oven (8 quarts), but it also worked in a 5 1/2-quart round Dutch oven. Because the food is more stacked with less opportunity for evaporation, the braise may need to cook longer and you might want to reduce the braising liquid on the stovetop after it comes out of the oven. Swap in your choice of root vegetables or herbs, too. You can adjust the recipe to your desired timeline. If you want an even slower braise, lower the temperature of the oven and cook longer.

No matter which route you take, I suggest leaning into the homey, welcoming nature of the dish by bringing the Dutch oven right to the table for serving. Let everyone gather and serve themselves, ideally with plenty of the juices for drizzling over mashed potatoes or, of course, dipping slices of my No-Knead Focaccia With Sausage, Apple and Shallots.

Recipe notes: The braise can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated in the Dutch oven (if your Dutch oven is not enameled, transfer to another container for storage). Or refrigerate leftovers for a maximum of 3 days. Reheat covered in the oven at 350 degrees or on the stovetop until warmed through. For crispier bits, you can reheat the turkey and vegetables on a sheet pan in the oven at 350 degrees, with warmed cooking liquid served on the side.

If you want to use chicken thighs, cut the vegetables a little smaller so they will cook through faster. Aim for 30 minutes covered in the oven and then take the lid off until the chicken is finished, an additional 15 to 20 minutes.

INGREDIENTS

4 bone-in, skin-on turkey thighs (4 1/2 to 6 pounds total), patted dry

Fine sea or table salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups (one 12-ounce can or bottle) hard cider (may substitute a mix of low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth and unsweetened apple juice or alcohol-free sparkling cider)

15 sprigs thyme, divided

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 pounds baby gold potatoes, halved (quartered, if large)

8 ounces carrots, scrubbed, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 medium apples (13 ounces total), peeled, cored and each cut into 10 to 12 wedges

DIRECTIONS

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Season the turkey thighs all over generously with salt and pepper.

In a large Dutch oven, preferably enameled cast-iron and oval, over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Place two of the thighs skin side down in the pot and sear until dark golden brown (the pieces should release easily once browned), 3 to 4 minutes, using a splatter screen as needed. Flip over and cook until the other side is dark golden brown as well, another 3 to 4 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary. Some browning on the bottom of the pan (the fond) is good. Transfer the thighs to a large, rimmed baking sheet or platter and repeat with the remaining pieces.

Reduce the heat to medium. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the rendered turkey fat (you can strain and refrigerate the excess to save for roasting vegetables). Remove any burned pieces of meat or skin. Add the garlic to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and golden but not browned, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Add the cider vinegar to the pan, minding the vigorous bubbling and steam. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir constantly, cooking until the vinegar has reduced to about 1 tablespoon. Pour in the hard cider, scrape up any browned bits again, add 10 of the thyme sprigs and the bay leaves, and return the heat to medium-high. Let the cider bubble away until it has reduced by around two-thirds, 8 to 10 minutes (if you’re using a round Dutch oven, you may want to take it a bit farther because the liquid won’t cook down as readily in the oven). Turn off the heat.

Place the potatoes, carrots and apple wedges in the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the browned turkey thighs on top, overlapping as little as possible. Cover and braise for about 40 minutes, or until the turkey registers 155 to 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (Don’t be surprised if this takes longer if your ingredients are more overlapped due to the shape or size of your Dutch oven.) Remove the lid and continue cooking until the meat reaches at least 165 degrees (a little higher is fine, as dark meat is forgiving) and the vegetables are tender, an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and, if desired, the thyme sprigs.

Let the braise rest for at least 10 minutes, as it will be very hot. You can return the lid to the pan if you’re trying to keep it warmer longer – the Dutch oven will insulate it well. Sprinkle with the leaves from the remaining thyme sprigs, then serve directly from the pot, making sure to include plenty of the braising liquid.

VARIATION: If you want to use chicken thighs, cut the vegetables a little smaller so they will cook through faster. Aim for 30 minutes covered in the oven and then take the lid off until the chicken is finished, an additional 15 to 20 minutes.

Nutrition information per serving (1/2 thigh, scant 1 cup vegetables and 2 tablespoons braising liquid), based on 8 | Calories: 435; Total Fat: 14 g; Saturated Fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 113 mg; Sodium: 166 mg; Carbohydrates: 27 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugar: 9 g; Protein: 39 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

From Washington Post staff writer Becky Krystal.

Mushroom and Leek Cornbread Dressing. Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Mushroom and Leek Cornbread Dressing

Active time: 30 minutes | Total time: 1 hour 45 minutes

6 to 8 servings

Aaron: Cornbread dressing is a must on my Thanksgiving table and my favorite part of the entire meal. The version that my family typically prepares includes celery, onions, peppers, chicken and/or turkey stock, sometimes a few pieces of turkey meat mixed in, and a smattering of herbs and spices, but each family and cook prepares it differently. Some like to use packaged corn muffin mix for convenience and flavor it with sausage and apples, while others include white bread in the mix and are all about the crispy bits.

Though I might get disowned from my family if I prepared something other than the standard version for the big meal, cornbread dressing is ripe for experimentation. Enter this mushroom and leek version, a vegetarian spin on my family’s standard recipe.

Making cornbread dressing, naturally, starts with cornbread. The recipe I’ve shared below is a version of my mother’s. While you can make this recipe from start to finish in one day, I recommend baking the cornbread in advance to spread out the cooking and make your time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day a little easier. (You can also assemble the dressing in advance and bake it right before serving.)

To assemble the dressing, start by sautéing mushrooms until browned for meaty umami. Creminis are always easy to find, or you could use oyster or hen of the woods mushrooms if you’re feeling fancy – feel free to mix and match and use whatever type(s) you like. Then, add in some leeks for subtle onion taste and sweetness, and flavor it with fresh tarragon for a woodsy, citrusy note, a couple cloves of garlic, salt and pepper. (It’s important to wait to salt the mushrooms until after they’re browned.)

The last step is to combine the mushroom mixture with the cornbread and vegetable stock. It’s key at this point to make sure there’s enough liquid for a moist dressing, as some of the stock will evaporate as it bakes. To that end, the dressing mixture should look a little soupy before it goes into the oven, like you’ve made a mistake and added too much liquid. (You haven’t.) The amount of stock listed below led to the perfect consistency in my tests, but it’s always wise to have a little extra on hand in case your batch of cornbread is super absorbent for whatever reason. (If you’ve never made cornbread dressing before and are feeling nervous about it being dry, add in extra stock and you can always bake it a little longer, if needed.)

Make this entire recipe from start to finish in a cast-iron skillet if you want to use only one pan, or bust out your finest casserole dish if you’re feeling fancy.

Make Ahead: The cornbread can be baked up to 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. The dressing can be assembled up to 1 day before and baked just before serving.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CORNBREAD

6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups (215 grams) fine or medium ground cornmeal

3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt

1 large egg

1 cup (240 milliliters) whole milk

FOR THE DRESSING

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces (225 grams) sliced mushrooms, such as cremini, oyster, shiitake or a combination

2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter

1 large (12-ounce/340-gram) leek, dark green parts trimmed, rinsed and thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste

2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

3 cups (720 milliliters) unsalted or low-sodium vegetable stock

DIRECTIONS

Make the cornbread: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. While the oven heats up, put the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet (or other similarly sized metal pan) and place in the oven to melt, 5 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk until combined. Add the egg and milk and mix until evenly combined. Once the butter has melted and the oven is preheated, carefully remove the skillet from the oven, add the melted butter to the batter and whisk until fully incorporated.

Transfer the batter into the preheated skillet and bake for about 20 minutes, or until firm to the touch and a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for at least 10 minutes. Then, lift the cornbread out with a spatula and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Crumble the cornbread into a large bowl. Wipe out the skillet.

Make the dressing: In the same skillet or using a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned in spots, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the butter, leeks, salt and pepper and cook, stirring regularly, until the leeks start to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and tarragon and cook, stirring regularly, until the leeks have fully softened, 1 to 2 minutes more.

Add the mushroom-leek mixture and vegetable stock to the crumbled cornbread and mix until evenly combined. (It will look a little soupy, but that’s necessary for a moist dressing.) Taste, and season with more salt and/or pepper, if needed.

Transfer the dressing mixture to the same cast-iron skillet or an ungreased 8-inch square pan or similarly sized casserole dish, smooth out the top and bake for 30 minutes, until golden on top. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Serve warm.

Nutrition information per serving (a generous 1/2 cup), based on 8 | Calories: 348; Total Fat: 17 g; Saturated Fat: 9 g; Cholesterol: 56 mg; Sodium: 390 mg; Carbohydrates: 42 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugar: 6 g; Protein: 7 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Recipe from Washington Post staff writer Aaron Hutcherson.

No-Knead Focaccia with Sausage, Apple and Shallots Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

No-Knead Focaccia With Sausage, Apple and Shallots

Active time: 30 minutes | Total time: 3 hours

16 servings (makes one 13-by-18-inch bread)

Becky: As someone who’s often indecisive and strapped for time, I’m a big fan of the concept of “the best of both worlds.” That’s what prompted me to develop No-Knead Focaccia With Sausage, Apple and Shallots.

This large-format, eye-catching side takes the flavors and ingredients of stuffing or dressing, depending on your geography, and morphs it with bread. After all, one of stuffing’s main components is already bread, so why not just turn it into something that lets you reap the joy of a fresh loaf? There are no compromises here, just something new and delicious. You’ll never have to choose between stuffing and bread again if you don’t have the bandwidth for both.

The recipe uses a make-ahead dough that will last as long as two weeks in the refrigerator. It is based on the dough and concept of our popular Fast Focaccia from the “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” team of Zoe François and Jeff Hertzberg, but instead of small round loaves, you get a whole sheet pan’s worth. The bread is baked at a relatively high temperature of 425 degrees, meaning it can go into the oven at the same time as many roasted vegetables, including my Roasted Broccolini With Lemon and Chile Flakes.

The resulting slab is tender and fluffy, an ideal companion for the braising juices of my Cider-Braised Turkey Thighs With Potatoes and Apples. Of course, it would also be right at home with your favorite gravy or pan sauce. If your crowd is smaller or you know you want to save some for the next day or so, hold back on cutting the entire slab. Extras can be sliced in half horizontally to build the leftovers sandwich of your dreams.

I loved the classic profile of sausage, apple, shallots and sage, but you can use whatever toppings you like, as long as they’ll cook through in the bake time. Or precook them as needed. Other options that would be great: Roasted or sauteed mushrooms, rosemary, pan-fried bacon, cooked and crumbled vegan sausage, dried cranberries and sliced onions. Keeping it simple with just flaky salt on top is also a fine strategy. For a scaled-down option, you can convert this into smaller loaves in 9-inch round cakes pans – halve the dough for 2 round loaves or quarter it for just one. The round loaves will bake in 20 to 25 minutes.

Make Ahead: The dough needs to rise at room temperature for 2 hours.

Storage Notes: Once the dough rises, it can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks in a lidded but vented container (not airtight), or frozen for a few months in an airtight container. Leftover focaccia can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat in the 350-degree oven for a few minutes, or toast in a toaster oven until warmed through.

INGREDIENTS

7 1/2 cups (1022 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour

3 1/4 cups (770 milliliters) plus 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, divided

1/2 cup (120 milliliters) plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon dried instant yeast (not rapid rise)

2 1/2 teaspoons fine sea or table salt

12 to 15 ounces mild or hot Italian sausage (bulk ground or removed from casings), separated into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces

1 small apple (about 6 ounces), cored and cut into 1/8-inch wedges

2 shallots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/8-inch wedges

1/4 cup fresh sage leaves

Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)

DIRECTIONS

In a large 5- or 6-quart bowl and using a wooden spoon, stir together the flour, 3 1/4 cups (780 milliliters) water, 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) of oil, the sugar, yeast and sea or table salt, forming a rough dough. Cover the bowl with a towel and let rise for 2 hours. (If your bowl is smaller than recommended, transfer the dough to a container large enough to allow the dough to double in size and cover.)

The dough can be used right away, but it’s much easier to handle once thoroughly chilled, about 3 hours. For longer-term storage, transfer the dough to a vented container (if airtight, the lid can pop off), where it can stay for up to 2 weeks.

Meanwhile, place the sausage pieces in a microwave-safe pie dish (or other large, shallow dish you can cover) along with the 1 tablespoon of water. Cover with a plate and microwave on HIGH until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes (the meat should have reached an internal temperature of just about 160 degrees, but remember it will cook more in the oven). Drain the pieces from the liquid in the plate and let cool.

Pour 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) of the remaining oil into an 13-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheet, tilting the pan to coat it thoroughly. Scrape the dough onto the pan and start to press it out; it will not fill to the edges of the pan. Tent the dough with greased plastic wrap or place inside an extra-large reusable zip-top bag (10 gallons) and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. If you have a baking stone, place it on this rack, too. (You may use an upper- or lower-middle rack if you have something else in the oven, too, such as roasted vegetables, but be sure to rotate from top to bottom halfway through baking.)

Use your hands to gently push the dough to the edges of the pan (lightly oil them or dip them in some of the oil on the pan to prevent sticking, if needed). Use a pastry brush to spread the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil across the top of the dough. Press the cooked and cooled sausage, apples, shallots and sage leaves evenly into the dough in whatever arrangement you want. Try to get the toppings almost, but not all the way, to the bottom of the dough. Re-cover the dough with the greased plastic wrap or zip-top bag and let the dough rest and rise for 20 minutes, then sprinkle with the flaky salt, if using.

Transfer the baking sheet to the oven, atop the heated stone, if using, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the focaccia crust is medium brown and feels dry and firm on the surface. The toppings may have a few charred edges.

Using a rounded knife, loosen the loaf from the edges of the pan, then slide the focaccia onto a large cutting board. (You can also cut it in the pan if you prefer.) Cut the loaf into approximately 2-by-3-inch pieces. You should get 32 pieces. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition information per 2-piece serving (each piece 2-by-3 inches) | Calories: 395; Total Fat: 16g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 13 mg; Sodium: 494 mg; Carbohydrates: 52 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugar: 3 g; Protein: 9 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Dough recipe adapted from “Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day,” by Zoe François and Jeff Hertzberg (Thomas Dunne Books, 2011), as posted on ArtisanBreadInFive.com; toppings by Washington Post staff writer Becky Krystal.

Vegan Braised Collard Greens with Miso and Smoked Paprika. Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Vegan Braised Collard Greens With Miso and Smoked Paprika

Active time: 30 minutes | Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

6 to 8 servings (about 6 cups)

Aaron: Braised collard greens are a staple in Black foodways, showing up at casual Sunday dinners and big holiday meals alike. They are typically seasoned with smoked meat – such as pork neck bones, turkey wings or pig tails – which imbue the greens and potlikker with tons of smoke and umami. (I wish I had a bowl right now!) But reflecting my evolving consciousness concerning meat consumption, I wanted to make a meatless version with a similar flavor profile. Enter this recipe for vegan Southern-style collard greens.

For smokiness, I turned to a pantry seasoning favorite: smoked paprika. It gets added in with red pepper flakes, garlic powder, salt and pepper while an onion sautes in a bit of olive oil. Then, add in vegetable stock and ribbons of collard greens to simmer until as tender as desired. (Some people like a little bite left in the greens, while others prefer them to be nice and silky.)

Lastly, miso, a fermented seasoning agent most popular in Japanese cuisine, and apple cider vinegar get swirled in at the end of cooking. There are many varieties of miso, and any can be used in this recipe, but I prefer a darker, more robustly flavored red type (aka miso) when cooking. Miso provides the umami that would have otherwise been added by meat while the vinegar perks up the flavors.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Where to Buy: Aka (red) miso can be found in well-stocked supermarkets, Asian markets or online.

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large (about 10 ounces) yellow onion, sliced

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt, plus more to taste

4 cups (1 quart) unsalted or low-sodium vegetable stock

2 bunches (about 2 pounds) collard greens, washed, de-stemmed, if desired, and cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick ribbons

2 tablespoons red miso paste

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

DIRECTIONS

In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, red pepper flakes and salt and cook, stirring regularly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the stock and raise the heat to bring to a boil. Add the collard greens, reduce the heat so the liquid is at a simmer, cover and cook until the collards are tender, from 45 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes or more, depending on the age of the greens and how much chew you want them to have. Stir in the miso and vinegar until the miso dissolves, taste, and season with more salt, if desired. Serve warm.

Nutrition information per serving (3/4 cup), based on 8 | Calories: 97; Total Fat: 4 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 322 mg; Carbohydrates: 13 g; Dietary Fiber: 6 g; Sugar: 3 g; Protein: 4 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Recipe from Washington Post staff writer Aaron Hutcherson.

Roasted Broccolini with Lemon and Chile Flakes. Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Roasted Broccolini With Lemon and Chile Flakes

Active time: 5 minutes | Total time: 20 minutes

4 to 6 servings

Becky: If you’re trying to keep your Thanksgiving meal small and simple, it can be all too easy to give short shrift to the sides. Not so with this roasted broccolini, which you can throw together in mere minutes.

I wanted a dish that would have enough acidity and kick to cut through the typical richness of a holiday meal. And since my menu already included a hearty braise and bread, something green was definitely in order. Broccolini won the day with its gentle bitterness. Plus, it’s quick to cook and looks great on a platter.

I developed this recipe to be slipped into the oven at the same time as my no-knead focaccia, with the high heat at 425 degrees helping create enviable crispy edges on every piece so no one has to fight for them. They’re the best part, in my opinion. Almost as appealing is one of my favorite little twists: the salt. Rather than just seasoning with salt alone, I first mixed it with the zest of one lemon. Rubbing the zest with the salt helps bring out all the lemon’s essential oils and ensures that the zest can be distributed more evenly than it would had you just tossed it on the stalks.

The broccolini would be good enough like that. But to catapult it to greater heights, I add a hit of red pepper flakes and then, after roasting, sprinkle the vegetables with just a bit more of the lemon salt, to taste. (Feel free to reduce or cut the red pepper flakes for the heat-averse.) Be sure to save the zested lemon to turn into wedges for serving. A last splash of juice further accentuates that bright flavor.

I give a range for the roasting time to account for the varying thickness of broccolini stalks and your desired level of doneness. The temperature is fairly flexible as well, depending on what else you have in the oven at the same time. If you reduce the temperature, bake for a little longer. If you increase it, cut the time.

INGREDIENTS

1 lemon, finely zested (1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons zest) and cut into wedges, for serving

1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt

1 pound broccolini, root ends trimmed, if needed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and place a large, rimmed baking sheet on the rack. Preheat to 425 degrees. (You can use another rack if you have other items in the oven.)

In a small bowl, rub together the lemon zest and salt until thoroughly combined. In a large bowl, toss together the broccolini, olive oil, red pepper flakes and a generous 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon zest mixture. Carefully remove the heated baking sheet from the oven and transfer the broccolini to the pan, spreading the stalks as evenly as possible in a single layer; some overlap is OK. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crisp-tender with some dark, crispy bits on the florets, or to your desired level of doneness. Season with more of the lemon zest mixture, to taste.

Serve warm or at room temperature, with the lemon wedges on the side.

Nutrition information per serving, based on 6 | Calories: 69; Total Fat: 5 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 218 mg; Carbohydrates: 3 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugar: 0 g; Protein: 0 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

From Washington Post staff writer Becky Krystal.


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