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Holiday side dishes re sorted with these easily made fennel and maple roasted carrots and creamed kale (vegan option too). Both can be prepared ahead and reheated when you need them. Super for Thanksgiving, Chrisstmas or any autumn/winter meal. I can’t believe it is one week to Christmas Day. The tree is up, garlands festoon every feasible surface, wreaths are on doors. So it is only the food to think about. And some last minute cards to post – oops!

These are my last two side dishes to give you. Both simple and make ahead (yay!). Wednesday I will offer two gorgeous and simple dessert options to prepare and squirrel away. And Friday, food to glow will feature a festive vegetarian main dish that meat eaters will almost certainly help themselves to.

But before I get on with the recipes I just want to let you know that Conner, who writes the always interesting cancer nutrition blog for Psychology Today (and is a friend of mine), has recently written up an excellent collection of gift ideas with a difference. Forget your fondue sets, reindeer shaped waffle irons, and matching his ‘n’ hers sweaters, Conner has your loved ones’ health and happiness in mind with 13 useful, beautiful, affordable, eco-friendly and healthy gifts that anyone would love to receive. I was especially taken with the idea of the Eight-Week Plan for Mindfulness (subtitle “finding peace in a frantic world”). And of course her own book, Zest For Life, which I wrote about here. Also, have a look at her instructional videos on YouTube. I wanted to link you to her gorgeous sounding gluten-free gingerbread, but all I can see now is a black screen where a video of Conner should be! Hopefully when you click you can see something. I have given you the link to the first of her 23 videos as it as introduces you to her video series about the Mediterranean diet.

I also want to give you a few ideas from my Weight Management Workshops to try and keep holiday eating healthier, or at least less calorific. Click here for my Healthy Holiday Eating Crib Sheet.

And so to the three recipes – one for fennel and maple roasted carrots and the other for two ways to make creamed kale. Both vegetables are fabulous additions to any winter meal, but most especially during the holidays. Colour, nutrients and terrific taste that almost everyone will enjoy. These can easily be made ahead and also make useful leftovers. I hope you like them

More festive side dishes: Southern Cornbread Stuffing, One-Pan Squash and Kale Stuffing {Dressing}, Orange and Spice Sweet Potato Casserole {Souffle}Butternut Squash Stuffing Stacks, Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Sage CrumbsCranberry and Apple Sauce + Cranberry and Pomegranate Relish, Pear and Cranberry Slaw, Winter Slaw with Pears and Cranberries.

Holiday side dish heaven > maple and fennel roasted carrotsMaple Roasted Carrots with Fennel Seeds

Last Year: Rhubarb & Cranberry Chutney, Chipotle Mayonnaise & Provencal Herb Mustard; Mexican Hot Cocoa Mix & Kids’ Vanilla Cocoa Mix; Hint of Mint Cocoa Brownies & Sour Cherry and Pistachio Chocolate Bark
Miss R’s Festive Track of the Week: Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End) by The Darkness (2003) – irreverent, cheeky fun. 
A nod to my North American roots, these maple roasted carrots can be made ahead and blasted in a hot oven with your roast potatoes on the Big Day. Or, if you’ve nothing better to do (that’s a joke, btw), cook from scratch on Christmas Day itself. If you have leftovers (and like cranberry sauce, always make more than you need), whiz them up with some crème fraiche or almond cream (see Creamed Kale recipe, below) for a yummy mash. 
A note on the oil, I tend to now use cold-pressed rapeseed/canola oil for roasting vegetables, with very good results. In Scotland, carrots and the stunningly picturesque rapeseed crop grow in the same type of soil, and have much more affinity with each other as roasting partners than the more usual olive oil and carrots (and other root crops). Also, the smoking point is considerably higher – organic cold-pressed rapeseed smokes at 464F, ‘plain’ olive oil at 428F, and extra virgin olive oil smokes at a low 331F. A pretty big difference.  Whatever oil you use, never cook at too high a temperature; it not only goes horribly bitter, it is unhealthy too. maple and fennel roasted carrotsDSC_0003
800g (1.75 lbs) organic carrots, scrubbed and rinsed (cut into thick cylinders if you like)
1 tbsp rapeseed/canola oil
3 tbsp maple syrup (I use Grade B – the super tasty stuff)
2 heaped tbsp fennel seeds
Drop carrots into boiling water and bring back to the boil, and fast simmer for five minutes. Steam dry in a pasta colander then pop into a wide shallow bowl (or on the baking tray) and toss with the oil and fennel seeds until well coated. Roast on a baking tray for 15 minutes at 200C (400F). 
Pull the tray from the oven and drizzle over the maple syrup with a teaspoon then gently shake the tray a little to get the carrots well covered in syrup. Roast for a further 5 minutes, until the syrup starts to bubble but not burn. Carefully place the carrots in a serving dish. I used a spatula so I wouldn’t pierce the skins. Serve warm.
Make ahead: Roast with the oil and allow to cool, then store in an airtight container or wrapped in foil. When you are about ready to eat, heat a baking tray in a 200C (400F oven) oven, toss the carrots in the maple syrup and decant onto the hot tray. Roast for 8 minutes, or until bubbly and fragrant.

Serves 6, with enough for leftovers.

Soft food diet: Blend with a 2 tbsp of vegetable stock or a dollop of creme fraiche after roasting.

Holiday side dish magic - creamed kaleCreamed Kale – Two Ways

This is a simple, more than the sum of its parts side dish that you will want to eat all winter long. Even kale-deniers have been known to partake. The secret is the quick boiling and then a bath in sweet onion and nutmeg-scented crème fraiche. For vegans, a credible alternative is to make a quick cashew cream. I have given directions for both easy versions. You can make these two days in advance. 
1 kg (2 lbs) kale, tough ribs removed then leaves torn and washed 
1 sweet onion, peeled and finely chopped (as fine as you can get it)
2 tbsp butter or rapeseed oil (or combination of the two)
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
200g (7 oz) crème fraiche or crema (light whipping cream if others not available)
Salt and white pepper to taste
Put the chopped kale in a large pot of boiling water, return to the boil and cook for five minutes. Drain in a colander then squeeze well in a tea towel over the sink. Pop the squeezed kale onto a chopping board and finely chop (do not put in a food processor). Set aside.
Heat the butter or oil in a large pan, and when melted add the onion and nutmeg. Saute gently, stirring occasionally. When the onion is translucent – about five minutes – stir in the kale and crème fraiche, salt and pepper. Toss well to coat, pop a lid on and cook for a further 10 minutes over a very low flame, stirring occasionally. The crème fraiche will have mostly absorbed into the kale. Serve warm.
Soft food diet: After cooking blend in a blender or with a blenderstick.
Serves 6.creamed kale

vegan creamed kale

Vegan Creamed Kale

1 kg (2 lbs) kale – AS ABOVE
1 sweet onion – AS ABOVE
2 tbsp rapeseed oil or coconut oil
1 batch of cashew cream – see below
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
squeeze of lemon
2 heaped tsp white or yellow miso (optional, but good for depth)
salt (if not using the miso) and white pepper to taste
Get on with the kale as stated in the first recipe, including the onions. While the onions are cooking, make the cashew cream.
When the onions are translucent add in the kale, cashew cream, lemon juice, miso and seasoning. Heat over a low flame for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Check seasoning then serve hot.cashew cream
Cashew Cream
1 ½ cups raw cashews
2 cups of warm water
Pop the cashews and a little of the water into a small food processor bowl and blend until smooth, adding more water until you have the desired consistency.
Serves 6.DSC_0145
 Note: This post from 2012 contains updated images (2015)

25 thoughts on “Holiday Side Dish Special: Fennel and Maple Roasted Carrots and Creamed Kale Two Ways

  1. grewitateit says:

    Wow – the kale recipe looks lovely. I always struggle to make kale exciting and we have tons of it in the garden.

    Will definitely be making it!

    1. Hi there. If you have tons of kale you could also do worse than make kale chips/crisps. Loads of recipes on INternet. I have my own version on the blog (pop term into the search bar on the side if you fancy). I hope you like the creamed kale. Which version you going for?

  2. Yum, Kellie. I’m definitely going to try your carrot recipe. We’re growing our own and I’m always looking for fresh new ways to serve them! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Miss Lizzy! I really hope you like it. We are having it during our office party meal, which the chaps in the office are making. God help us!

  3. Jacqueline @How to be a Gourmand says:

    Maple Roasted Carrots? Ding Dong!! Yes please Kellie! Love your seasonal snowdrops 🙂

  4. Kaitlyn says:

    I can’t wait to make this!

  5. sonia says:

    I have this on the list to make this Thanksgiving. Wondering about the vegan version of the creamed kale. Do you soak the cashews before making the cream? That’s what most recipes call for but curious if it is better without the soak. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for your question, Sonia. Soaking makes them easier to make as a cream if not using a power blender, as well as makes them easier to digest for some people. But the taste will be the same regardless of whether you soak them- good!

  6. Tiffany says:

    I make the vegan creamed kale every thanksgiving, four years counting tomorrow, even at the request of some of our omni family members. It’s our favorite way to make kale and I usually don’t have any leftover to bring home! I am definitely going to check out some of your other recipes!

    1. Vegan creamed kale is certainly a winner with us at Thanksgiving. I sometimes make it for breakfast and have it on toast! Enjoy your day today, Tiffany. 🙂

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