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


Oregon Coast Gardening Expo

Newport Garden Show June 26th, 2010
We’ve been exhibiting and occasionally speaking at this annual Newport show for several years. I always come home loaded with great plants, garden art, and pleasant memories. We’ll bring plants, seeds, Yacon plants, tools and are there to answer your questions
This is a benefit for Samaritan House Family Homeless Shelter in Newport where they serve an array of families and children in need, help them get on their feet and resituated. Here are the details.
The last big plant sale and show of the season happens at Oregon’s premiere coastal resort of Newport from 9:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. On Saturday, June 26th The third annual Oregon Coast Gardening & Landscaping Expo features over fifty Northwest plant sellers offering a wide variety of great plants, trees and shrubs including the unusual and rare. Plus the extremely popular gardening and landscaping seminars return with top guest speakers including the legendary Ed Hume, Kym Pokorny of The Oregonian, famed landscape designer Lucy Hardiman, Frances Hopkins, founder & owner of Stepables ground covers and many more! The Lincoln County Master Gardeners again be operating their Master Gardener Help Center featuring soil testing and readily available to answer your questions. Lunch is available and will again feature Mo’s Famous Clam Chowder. The Garden Expo will again be held at Newport Intermediate School, 825 NE 7th Street in Newport. Admission is only $5.00 and includes the seminars! This will be an terrific time to visit the ocean beach and attend one of the top Northwest gardening shows of the season. Special Garden Expo hotel rates of $79.95 for traditional room and $89.95 for deluxe room are available at the Newport Shilo Inn Oceanfront. Call 541-265-7701 and ask for the Oregon Coast Garden Expo rate. For updated information visit our website at


Tomorrow, Saturday April 5th, Keane and I will be at Gardenpalooza with seeds, and Yacon plants. Come to us with your gardening questions. Mention you’ve seen this note on The Gardener’s Pantry and select a free seed packet of your choice. Gardenpalooza is a yearly local event held at Fir Point Farms in Aurora, OR on Airport Road. We’ll be in the lovely big greenhouse with other nurseries and The Chinese Classical Garden. I always pick up new  plants at this show because there is such a great selection. For those of you who out of the area look for local garden events where you can directly ask the grower how to grow the plant and find interesting plants that never show up in the big box stores.

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.