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Cookin' with Sal: Sides for the feast
Cookin’ with Sal

Cookin' with Sal: Sides for the feast


When three Thanksgiving guests are 7 and under, I certainly don’t want to have a menu full of only big, heavy stuff they won’t be interested in eating.

Not that we’re going with chicken tenders and mac and cheese — although for them I wouldn’t mind — but I would much rather have them be interested in at least a couple of choices than just miserable the entire time.

And no, there won’t be a kids’ table, because this kid absolutely hated them, always preferring the company of adults at formal holiday dinners.

I farmed out “fruit salad” to the daughter, who seemed alarmed I’m not making the delicious cherry salad from “Eatin’ with Sal.” I have no idea what fruit salad she will bring, but I did gently suggest that it be something the littles might have some interest in. I figure a fruit salad, paired with mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole, might give them enough if they are not interested in turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole or brussels sprouts.

This is kind of a pain if you have a million other things to do in the kitchen because you need to cook the pasta, but that can be done way ahead of time. And with a pudding base, you don’t need to temper egg yolks like you do for many frog eye salads.

The Brussels sprouts heat in a slow cooker, which saves one dish from the last minute stove top crush.

I typically have two slow cookers going that day, one with make ahead mashed potatoes and one with scalloped corn. But you may want to consider this recipe as an alternative.

Frog Eye Salad

  • 1 1/4 cup Acini Di Pepe (small round pasta)
  • 2 (11 ounces) cans mandarin oranges
  • 1 (20 ounces) can pineapple tidbits
  • 1 4-serving box vanilla instant pudding
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (or combination of milk and pineapple juice from the tidbits)
  • 2 cups whipped cream/cool whip
  • 3 cups marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Cook acini di pepe according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Drain cans of fruit, saving the pineapple juice. In a large bowl, combine pudding with milk or a combination of milk and reserved pineapple juice (for a sweeter salad) to equal 1-1/2 cups liquid. Whisk until combined. Place in the freezer or fridge to firm up pudding; about 5-10 minutes.

Once pudding is firm, fold in whipped cream/cool whip. Add cooked pasta, fruit, marshmallows and coconut. Fold gently. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (optional, but advised.) Serve cold. Yield: 20 servings.

(Recipe from

Pistachio-Cranberry Brussels Sprouts Gratin

  • 3 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
  • 1/4 cup roasted, salted pistachio nuts, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups crumbled goat cheese (6 ounces)
  • 1 cup heavy cream

In a Dutch oven, cook Brussels sprouts one third at a time, in boiling water for 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Stir in onion, 3/4 cup of the cranberries and the next four ingredients (through pepper). Cover and cook on low for 3 hours or on high for 1-1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in panko; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly. Stir in Parmesan cheese and pistachios.

If using low, turn to high. Slowly add goat cheese and cream, stirring until creamy. Top with crumb mixture. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes more. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup cranberries.

Note: To make ahead, transfer boiled Brussels sprouts to a large bowl; cover and chill until ready to cook. Serves 8.

Follow Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @wyosas.


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Community News Editor

Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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