Holiday Side Dish


By Valerie Wilson

When we sit down to our holiday dinner, most of the time, it is the main course that gets all the attention; however, it is the side dishes that are the ones with the most eye appeal and unique flavors. The side dish is the unsung hero of many holiday dinners. They are like the supporting actor who can make the main actor’s performance looks so much better. When it comes to side dishes, make them very colorful, not as heavy as the main course, and very flavorful.

The following recipe contains delicious, colorful vegetables with many health benefits. Parsnips are one of my favorite vegetables for a holiday side dish. They have a natural sweetness to them and a unique appearance and color. They are high in vitamins C and K, folate, manganese, lots of B vitamins, and fiber; they help support bone and heart health. Carrots are similar in shape to parsnips and have similar nutritional value. And both are root vegetables that give you strength and energy.

Delicata squash is the sweetest of the winter squashes and my favorite. They are oblong, yellow with green stripes, and inside they are a beautiful yellowish, orange color. Known for helping boost your immune system, it is also high in potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and beta-carotene, which turns into vitamin A in the body. Squash can help improve eyesight, improve circulation, stabilize blood sugar levels, and be good for your digestion.

The flavor profile of this dish comes from the sweet, salty, pungent, and sour seasonings. Tamari is your salty flavor which complements the sweet brown rice syrup. Brown rice vinegar is also sweet, sour, and pungent. Ume vinegar, which you may not have heard of before, has a wonderful salty, sour, pungent flavor. When you put these ingredients together, the dish has a robust flavor to complement any main course dish you will serve for your holiday dinner.

Squash Parsnips and Kale in Sweet Sauce

3 cups delicata squash (cut into cubes)
3 cups parsnips (cut in diagonals)
2 cups carrots (cut in diagonals)
2 cups chopped kale
2 T. olive oil
3 T. tamari
3 T. ume vinegar
3 T. brown rice vinegar
3 T. brown rice syrup
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 T. arrowroot (dissolved in 1/4 cup water)

  1. In a large pot, place the vegetables (except kale, to be added later) in their own compartments, each vegetable separate.
  2. Whisk together the olive oil, tamari, ume vinegar, brown rice vinegar, brown rice syrup, water, and sea salt. Pour over the vegetables.
  3. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the kale on top, continue simmering, and cover for five more minutes.
  5. Add the arrowroot and 1/4 cup water mixture to the pot and stir together. The sauce in the pot will thicken as the arrowroot heats up, and the sauce will cover the vegetables. Turn off the heat and serve hot.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here