For most people, holidays are intimately intertwined with food. In fact, most of our happiest holiday memories are about the dishes we share with family and friends.
However, writes Danielle Walker in her new book Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Celebrations: A Year of Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes for Every Occasion, when people need to alter their diets, they are understandably anxious that “fond memories and traditions will be lost along with the newly eliminated food groups.”
Walker, who was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when she was 22, switched to a Paleo diet to alleviate her symptoms. It worked, but she was still apprehensive about what effect her new diet would have on holiday gatherings.
“I will always remember my first Thanksgiving just weeks after switching to a Paleo Diet,” Walker writes. “I longingly looked at other diners’ plates full of stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy; my plate had only turkey, salad, and a deflated, runny mashed cauliflower that I had brought for myself. Watching everyone enjoy all the traditional pies and desserts after the meal was even more torturous.”
After that Thanksgiving, Walker decided to re-create her favorite holiday dishes. They were a big hit, and she’s been making them ever since. In her new book, she collects several celebratory dishes, including many Thanksgiving classics.
Here are two favorites you can make next Thursday: “Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Shallots” and “Maple Pumpkin Pie”.
Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Shallots
Thanksgiving just doesn’t feel the same without this creamy casserole, so I have re-created Against All Grain-style, without the heavy cream, MSG, or gluten. I could eat the mushroom sauce in this dish by the spoonful.
Serves 10 to 12
- 1 cup whole raw cashews
- 2 T. ghee or extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, halved
- 1 shallot, peeled and chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 2 T. sherry (optional)
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
- 2 lbs. haricot verts, ends trimmed
- 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced into rings (for topping)
Place the cashews in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Soak for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, heat the ghee in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, shallot, and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms and shallot have softened. Pour in the sherry and simmer for 5 minutes to reduce the liquid.
Drain and rinse the cashews, transfer them to a blender, add the water, and blend until very smooth. Add the mushroom mix, half of the stock, and the salt, pepper, and thyme to the blender and pulse a few times until the mushrooms are bite size. Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir in the remaining stock. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the mushroom mixture with the haricots verts and spoon into a casserole dish. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, until the beans are tender and the sauce is bubbling. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes more.
Meanwhile, to make the topping, heat the palm shortening in a small, deep saucepan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, panfry the shallots for about 5 minutes, until golden brown. Drain and cool in a single layer on a plate lined with paper towels.
Top the casserole with the crispy shallots and serve warm.
Maple Pumpkin Pie
This is my favorite dessert of the season, and I cannot wait for the excuse to make it every year. A little secret: My favorite way to eat it is cold, straight from the fridge, and sometimes for breakfast!
Makes 1 (9-inch) pie; serves 8 to 10
- Basic pie pastry (see below), frozen for 1 hour
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 T. full-fat coconut milk
- 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree or 1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1⁄2 cup pure maple syrup or light-colored raw honey
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1⁄2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1⁄2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1⁄4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1⁄4 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1⁄2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
- Whipped coconut cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 325°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Reserve one-fourth of the dough to make decorative toppings. Press the remaining dough into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate, using the palms of your hands to ensure the crust is even throughout. Press together any breaks in the dough, then crimp or flute the edges with your fingers. Cut a round of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the crust and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
Bake the pie shell for 10 minutes, remove the weights and parchment paper, and bake for 5 minutes more, or until the crust is golden. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Roll out the reserved pie pastry between two sheets of parchment paper. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Make an egg wash by mixing together the egg yolk and coconut milk and brush onto the pastry shapes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until the shapes are golden. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Increase the oven temperature to 350°F. Place the pie shell on a rimmed baking sheet and brush the edges with the remaining egg wash.
To make the filling, whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, coconut milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, lemon zest, and salt. Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes, then cover the crust with foil and continue baking for 20 minutes, or until the custard has set but still jiggles slightly in the center. Turn off the oven and leave it cracked open for 30 minutes while the pie cools.
Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then place the decorative cut-outs around the perimeter of the pie and place it in the refrigerator to fully set, about 2 hours. Serve with the whipped coconut cream.
Basic Pie Pastry
Makes enough pastry for one 9-inch single-crust pie
- 2 1⁄2 cups blanched almond flour
- 1 cup arrowroot powder
- 1⁄4 cup coconut sugar
- 2 eggs, chilled
- 3 T. cold water
- 1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 T. palm shortening, chilled
To make the pie dough, combine the almond flour, arrowroot, coconut sugar, eggs, water, and salt in a food processor. Process for 10 seconds, or until combined. Add the palm shortening, spacing out where the tablespoons are dropped into the dough. Pulse 4 to 5 times, until pea- size bits of dough form.
Gather the dough into a tight ball and flatten it into a disk. Wrap tightly and freeze for 1 hour.
Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate and press it into the bottom and up the sides of the plate, using the palms of your hands to ensure the crust is even throughout. Press together any breaks in the dough, then crimp or flute the edges with your fingers.
To partially bake the crust, cut a round of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the crust and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake at 325°F for 10 minutes, remove the weights and parchment paper, and bake for 5 minutes more, or until the crust is golden. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Looking to round out your Thanksgiving feast? Try some of Danielle Walker’s other recipes, including Corned Beef with Cabbage and Parsnip-Turnip Purée and Roasted Butternut Squash with Maple Sage Brown Butter.