6 Killer Thanksgiving Side Recipes From Gastronaut!

So, you got yourself invited to a Thanksgiving party. You could be the gracious guest and bring wine. Or flowers. But, this is Thanksgiving. Keep to tradition, and do as the pilgrims and Native Americans did: Hand over an edible offering you whipped up yourself. Need a little assistance? We asked ex-Google chefs, Mirit Cohen and Nate Keller, the dynamic duo behind locavore catering company, Gastronaut, to put their culinary flair on some classic holiday sides. Armed with easy-to-follow recipes and can’t-fail techniques, our Refinery29 test kitchen got to work. Hey, if we can do it, so can you! From a last-minute stunner to soulful vegetarian fare, see (and make) all the scrumptiousness that's yours for the taking.

The Gluten-Free Alternative: Quinoa & Lentil Stuffing

Bursting with fall colors and good-for-you protein, you’ll never miss the real thing. Quick tip: Take the toil out of slicing squash by nuking it in the microwave for a couple minutes.

Ingredients: 2 cups quinoa 2 cups lentils Olive oil 4 oz white wine 4 quarts of gluten-free vegetable stock (substitute water for low-sodium alternative) 1 bunch kale, chopped into bite-size pieces 1 yellow onion, diced 1 clove of garlic, minced 1 small butternut squash, cubed 1 bunch sage, chopped salt and pepper 2 oz Humboldt Fog soft goat cheese (optional)
1. Roast Squash: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut squash into 1” cubes; place on a baking sheet. Toss with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender and golden, about 25 minutes.
2. Make Quinoa: Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small pot over high heat. Heat oil; add quinoa and toast, stirring constantly. When the quinoa starts to brown, pour in 4 cups stock; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and cover, 15 minutes. Set aside.
3: Cook Lentils: Place 2 cups of lentils and 4 ½ cups of vegetable stock (or water) in a small pot. Bring to a boil over high heat; turn down heat and simmer covered, 15 minutes. Stir occasionally, every 5 minutes, so lentils don’t burn. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.
4. Layer Flavors: In a large sauté pan over high heat, sauté onions until translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Add kale, season again, and sauté until wilted. Add garlic and sauté for about 20 seconds; pour in white wine. Cook until kale is tender, about 8 minutes. Set aside.
5. Toss and Bake: Combine all above items. Stir in a little stock, olive oil, and sage. Season. Top with cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.

The Swoon-Worthy Crowd Pleaser: Brown Butter Cornbread and Mascarpone Frosting
Use a muffin tin, and spread on this silky frosting for a sweet and savory treat that’s half cupcake, half biscuit–and pure joy.

Cornbread Ingredients:
Dry Ingredients: 1 1/3 cups coarse stone-ground yellow cornmeal 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour 1/4 cup sugar 2 teaspoons baking powder 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Wet Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of maple syrup

1 tablespoon of honey 1 cup of buttermilk 10 tablespoons unsalted butter to be browned (1 ¼ sticks of butter)

2 eggs, beaten
Extra tablespoon of butter for pan greasing

Frosting Ingredients:

2 cups of high-quality mascarpone cheese

2 teaspoons of fresh sage, minced 2 tablespoons of honey Zest of 1 small orange 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper (optional) 1/4 teaspoon of Chinese 5-Spice

1. Prep: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease pan. Beat eggs. Mince sage.
2. Brown: In a shallow sauce pan, heat butter over low to medium-low heat. Melt to a light golden brown. It might fizz and pop; that's totally normal. Once the butter browns, remove from heat, and let cool.
3. Measure: In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, do the same for the wet ingredients, and don’t forget the cooled brown butter.
4. Stir: With a whisk or in a kitchen stand mixer, slowly add the wet mixture into the dry. Mix well, but don’t over mix. Some lumps are ok.
5. Transfer: In a well-greased pan or muffin tin, pour in batter. Fill no more than ¾ up. These babies will rise.
6. Set Timer: Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Test doneness with a toothpick. Serve immediately or cool. Wrapped well, this cornbread will last 2 days. Do not refrigerate.

7. Make Frosting: Mix all of the ingredients well to incorporate. Chill before serving. Spoon, frost, or smear on.

The Potluck Feast: Good Mother Stallard Beans Economic but so rich in flavor (thanks to the smoky goodness of ham hock), this feeds a small army, and hits the spot, especially when there’s a chill in the air.
Ingredients: 1 cup Good Mother Stallard beans (can substitute navy beans) 4 cups chicken stock 1 yellow onion, chopped 1 ham hock 1 cup mushrooms, quartered 1 bunch chard, chopped 2 large sprigs parsley, chopped 2 sprigs thyme, chopped 1 spoonful mascarpone
1. The Night Before: Soak beans in a 2 quart container. They will expand and double in size.
2. Build Flavors: Heat a medium pan on high heat; add olive oil. Sauté onions until translucent. Add beans, stock, and ham hock; bring to boil. Lower heat and cover. Simmer until beans are cooked, about 30 minutes.
3. Put It Together: Pull out ham hock and take off meat. Return meat back into the pot; add mushrooms and chard. Continue to simmer until chard is tender, about 5 minutes.
4. Garnish: Stir in chopped parsley and thyme. Finish off with a dollop of mascarpone.

The Classic: Whipped Potatoes
For your fluffiest potatoes, minimize the mixing with perfectly boiled spuds. Cut them into equal-sized pieces for even cooking.

Ingredients: 6 Russet potatoes 2 cups heavy cream 1 lb unsalted butter 2 cloves garlic Salt and pepper to taste

1. Prep Potatoes: Peel and cut into 2-inch pieces to avoid mushy exteriors and ensure even cooking.

2. Simmer: Place potatoes and garlic in a medium pot of cold water. Bring to a simmer over high-heat. Continue cooking on medium-low until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes or when you can pierce them with a knife with no resistance.

3. Crank Away:
Drain potatoes. Using a food mill or potato ricer, pass potatoes into bowl.
4: Whip It: Bring cream and butter to a boil. Remove from heat. Mix potatoes in the fewest strokes possible. Season with salt and pepper. The consistency should be like fluffy clouds.

The Meatless Piece de Resistance: Green Bean Casserole This vegetarian side (that can pass as an entrée) is well worth making from scratch. It’s so good; it deserves its own side. We strongly recommend frying up an extra batch of onion rings to pile on top.


1 lb French green beans, trimmed 2 cups heavy cream 1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced 1 shallot, minced 2 garlic cloves, minced ½ cup brandy ½ cup cream sherry ½ cup white wine ½ cup port 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 3 sprigs of thyme, cleaned & chopped 1 yellow onion 1 cup buttermilk 1 cup flour 1 cup corn starch 2 quarts vegetable oil (preferably rice bran oil) Salt and pepper to taste


1. Overnight: Cut onions. Julienne them if you’re feeling fancy. We prefer rings. Soak in buttermilk for at least an hour and up to 24 hours.
2: Blanch Beans: Prepare ice bath. Bring large pot of water to boil. Generously salt. Drop in green beans; stir until water returns to a boil. Cook al dente, 1 minute. Strain, plunge in ice water, and strain again. Set aside.
3: Cook Mushrooms: Melt butter over high heat in a large sauté pan. Add mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Stir. Sauté until liquid has completely evaporated. Add shallots and garlic; sauté 3 minutes.
4: Make Soup: Take pot off flame. Add all alcohol. Return to heat and cook down by 2/3. Add cream; reduce by a 1/4. Salt and pepper to taste.
5: Batter Up: Scoop onions out of buttermilk. Season with salt and pepper. Toss onions in flour-cornstarch mixture. Work in small batches to avoid clumping.

6. Heat Oil:
Warm oil to 350 degrees. Don’t have a thermometer? Eyeball it. The oil will ripple when it’s at the right temperature. Test one onion piece. It should immediately bubble, and rise to the top. Fry in small batches. When brown and crispy, remove onions from oil; drain on a paper towel.
7: Combine: Mix green beans and mushroom soup. Place in an ovenproof serving dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Top with onions, and enjoy.


The Last-Minute Fixing: Braised Kale
There’s a good chance everything you need to make this hearty aromatic side is already in your fridge.

Ingredients: 1 bunch lacinato kale (cleaned and chopped)

2 cloves garlic sliced

1 cup ale

Zest of one lemon

Olive oil

Salt and pepper


1. Sizzle:
Heat oil in a large pan until almost smoking. Add kale; season with salt and pepper. Add garlic as kale starts to wilt. Sauté 1 minute.
2. Spike: Add beer. Bring to boil. Turn down heat; simmer covered, about 10- 15 minutes until kale is tender.
3. Season: Add lemon zest. Salt and pepper to taste.

Dishware and tableware provided by West Elm, 5602 Bay Street, Emeryville; 510-655-1367.

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