Thanksgiving Dinner: Foods of the Americas with recipe links


All of us at Nichols Garden Nursery wish you a happy Thanksgiving. Among several of our favorite recipes for Thanksgiving dinner are those which include foods specific to the Western Hemisphere prior to Columbus. Hope you’ll find useful recipes and menu ideas.   Also if you are looking for recipes for yacon we have developed several to offer. This plant of the Andes, our best selling plant, produces heavy yields of crunchy sweet tubers. They make a great low calorie snack, peeled, sliced, and sprinkled with a few drops of lime juice and a touch of salt.

Every Thanksgiving I set myself a little challenge of preparing foods of the Western Hemisphere for this quintessential US holiday. What I’ve learned is only a few of the foods we associate with this celebration actually originated in the US, cranberries, pecans, sunflowers and of course turkeys. Corn, squash, potatoes, chocolate, etc. all made their way north from Central and South American. But then we’ve always been a mixed lot so why not our foodstuffs.

Here in Oregon it feels like winter. It’s wet and windy. Stay cozy.

Here are recipe links featuring foods of the Americas. All of these are on the Gardeners Pantry.

Thanksgiving Recipe- Gluten Free Corn Sticks

Thanksgiving – Zesty Chocolate Pecan Pie

Thankgiving Baked Squash

Yacon Pineapple Slaw

Thanksgiving – Tomato Aspic

Achoca with Sweet Red Peppers

Thanksgiving-Cornbread and Sunflower Seed Stuffing

Easy “Mole” Sauce for Turkey

All America Thanksgiving Menu 2006


Chicken Vegetable Curry With Yacon

Chicken Vegetable Curry with YaconThis Indian style curry includes Yacon. These Andean tubers cook to a tender/crisp translucence and absorb the curry flavors. For a vegetarian dish simply omit the chicken. Serve with rice and a side dish of yogurt and chopped cucumber seasoned with cumin, salt and pepper. Serves 4-6

3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 chopped jalapeno pepper, deseeded
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely
1 medium yacon (about 12 oz.) peeled and diced into large 1 ¼ ‘ pieces
3 small red potatoes, peeled and diced into large cubes
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves cut into cubes
1 large (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 medium head cauliflower (about 1 pound) cut into large florets
2 cups frozen petit peas
½ cup chopped cilantro

In a large lidded skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add coriander, cumin, curry, jalapeno pepper, garlic and stir for thirty seconds. Add onion, yacon, and potatoes, stirring frequently until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, chicken and cauliflower. Bring to a simmer, turn heat to low and cook covered until vegetables are tender about 15 minutes. Stir in peas and cook, uncovered until the peas are tender about 3 minutes. Stir in cilantro and serve.

Thai Chicken Curry with Yacon

Thai Chicken Curry with Yacon

Thai curries are fast and easy when you use a commercial curry paste. For this recipe I used Mae Ploy brand green curry paste. It comes in a 14 oz. plastic tub. Other ingredients like fresh basil and Kaffir lime leaves are optional but they do provide extra flavor and aroma. Yacon in this recipe is lightly cooked and it contributes a fresh crunchy texture and taste. If you have access to yacon and like Thai style curry, I urge you to include yacon in your favorite recipe and see how you like it. We served this with Brown Jasmine rice.

Serves 4-6


2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. yacon, peeled and cut in 1’ pieces
1 lb orange sweet potato, peeled and cut in 1” pieces
2 boned, skinned, chicken breast halves, cut in 1” cubes
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
2-3 tsp Thai green curry paste
2 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce
2 tsps. sugar
½ cup broth or water
½ lb green beans
2 shredded Kaffir lime leaves (optional)
¼ cup shredded fresh basil leaves
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

Prepare and chop all ingredients before you begin cooking. Take a large lidded skillet and place it on medium high. Most coconut milk will have a heavy layer of cream that rises to the top. This is a good cooking oil, scoop out a spoonful and place in skillet. Add garlic and stir, as soon as you smell the garlic cooking, add yacon and sweet potato, cook for five minutes, stirring several times. Add chicken, coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, sugar and kaffir lime. Stir well. Turn heat down to medium low and cover. Cook gently for five minutes and add broth and green beans. Continue cooking for ten minutes. Stir in basil. If beans and sweet potato are tender and cooked remove from heat. Taste and add more curry paste if needed or more broth if sauce seems dry, stir in cilantro and serve. Total cooking time is 20-25 minutes.

Yacon Carrot Salad with Wasabi

Peeled and cut yacon discolors when exposed to the air. Acidity from citrus or vinegar maintains the white color. When making this salad, prepare the dressing first so you can quickly add the julienned yacon to it and preserve the color. Note my suggestion for using the food processor to speed preparation. As I keep working with the yacon in recipes I find I’m mostly trying to adapt dishes that might use jicama, Asian pears, potatoes or daikon. Some have worked well enough to publish on this blog.
Serves 4-6

Dressing ingredients
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp *wasabi paste or ½ teaspoon powder
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar
½ teaspoon grated lemon peel
½ tsp grated ginger
½ teaspoon dark sesame oil

Combine ingredients in a bowl and stir until mixed. Set aside.

Salad ingredients
8 oz. julienned or shredded yacon
8 oz. julienned or shredded carrot
¾ cup cooked edamame beans (shelled edible soybean)

Prepare dressing before making salad. To shred in a food processor peel both yacon and carrots and cut into 2” lengths. Place these in the processor and with a shredding or julienne blade firmly press on the vegetables while the processor is running. A bit of pressure produces a large shred that is almost as attractive as from a mandoline. Mandolines or the Japanese Benreiner version, produce perfect strips but I worry about carelessly cutting off part of my knuckle.
* Wasabi paste or dried wasabi produce similar results in this dressing. This is the green tinged horseradish relative native to Japan.

Yacon Waldorf Salad

Yacon Waldorf Salad on Radicchio leavesMy friend Joyce and I have been sharing birthday dinners for nearly twenty years. This year, it was my turn to prepare dinner for six, so I seized upon this as an opportunity to prepare not one but two yacon based dishes for for our meal. This salad really shines with the yacon and apple combination.

Waldorf salad was first served at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York in 1896. It was a very simple combination of mayonnaise, apples and celery and became instantly popular. This recipe is adapted from one that appeared in Bon Appetit Magazine. Yacon is a delightful combination with the traditional apples. Served in a nest of radicchio or bibb lettuce it makes an attractive first course.
Serves 6-8
1 # yacon, peeled and diced
3 crisp juicy apples, diced and not peeled
1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ cup lowfat mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sour cream (non-fat a good choice)
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
1 cup diced celery
1 ½ cups chopped radishes (about 18)
1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 cup lightly toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
one head radicchio or bibb lettuce

Combine yacon and apples with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Stir in mayonnaise, sour cream and blue cheese. Add celery, chopped radishes and cranberries. Radishes are quickly chopped in the food processor. If serving immediately add nuts and parsley. If not set aside in refrigerator and add just before serving. Serve in a dish or spoon into two nested lettuce or radicchio leaves.

Yacon & Green Beans with SE Asian Flavors

In this recipe the shredded yacon and green beans are highly seasoned. The Yacon absorbs the color and flavors of the sauce and assumes a new identity. Shrimp Paste with Yacon and green beans with SE Asian flavorsBean Oil is a wonderful sauce recommended by our friend, Chef Eddie Chong. It’s similar to the expensive Chinese XO Sauce. Look for it in Asian Grocery stores. It contains shrimp, garlic, soy oil, salt, peppers, MSG, (I know) and paprika. Hope the coming photo of the 7 oz. jar makes your shopping easier. To prepare without this sauce add 2 tablespoons minced dried shrimp, an extra garlic clove, and ¼ teaspoon paprika. The garlic, peanuts, chilies and paprika give this dish a delicious punch and even the shrimp can be omitted with good results. Yard long asparagus beans were used in this photo, they are interchangeable with green beans.

2 large cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 Serrano pepper deseeded and chopped or ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 pound yard long or green beans trimmed and cut in 1.5” pieces
2 tablespoons water
8 ounces yacon, peeled and shredded
2 tablespoons Shrimp Paste With Bean Oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/3 teaspoon grated black pepper (2-3 twists of the mill)
1/3 cup roasted peanuts

Select a large lidded non-stick skillet. Lightly heat skillet and add garlic, ginger, Serrano pepper, and cooking oil. Stir briefly until garlic becomes fragrant and then add beans. Stir for 2-3 minutes with temperature turned high. Beans will begin to wilt and show darkened spots. Add water and cover with lid, turn temperature to medium and cook for five minutes. Lift lid during this braising period to stir once or twice, adding another two tablespoons of water if it evaporates. Add yacon, shrimp paste, soy sauce, sugar and pepper. The yacon will give off liquid and you will need to stir with a spatula to combine and evenly cook ingredients until beans are tender. Stir in peanuts, adjust seasonings and serve. Depending on the meal this dish accompanies you may want this to be a little sweeter, more garlicky or hotter. Try this recipe as written or with the suggestions above and then fine-tune it to your own preference.

Yacon Pineapple Slaw


This recipe we’ve made since first growing yacon and we keep returning to it. An easy fresh and unusual winter salad it’s a novel addition to the Thanksgiving table.

1 medium fresh pineapple
1 pound fresh yacon, 1-2 tubers
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup sweet red pepper, rings or diced

Peel and slice the pineapple into eight sections making longitudinal cuts. Remove the core and slice the pineapple pieces into ½” thick wedges. To peel yacon, a standard potato peeler does a good job and doesn’t cut too deeply into the tuber. You can trim with a knife. Rinse when peeled. Yacon peel is bitter so peeling is always recommended. A food processor with a medium shredding disk produces larger shreds if you press down firmly on the feed tube. Immediately add lime juice to shredded yacon to prevent discoloration and then combine with pineapple and peppers. The tiny pepper rings in this photo are from Nichols new Baby Belle Sweet Pepper. A few shredded leaves of fresh spearmint is a good variation. If you choose to use canned pineapple chunks select two 16 oz. cans that are lightly sweetened with juice drained.
Note: a Mandoline produces a perfect julienne but watch your fingers, the blades are sharp and no one wants to see blood in the salad. I usually peel the yacon, cut into large chunks, and press firmly down as it goes through shredder on my food processor.