I cooked my first turkey and stuffing when I was 16 years old. From there, I added to my Thanksgiving Dinner responsibilities yearly by taking on more and more side dishes and desserts. When I moved away for graduate school at the age of 22, I began a tradition of hosting a huge Thanksgiving dinner for all of my friends who weren’t going home for the holiday. It was pretty usual to have 12 or 14 people around my tiny table, enjoying all the staple dishes of the holiday. I always insisted on doing all of the cooking myself (I guess that won’t surprise any of you by now! lol!) and instead left the wine list up to my guests!
Somewhere in this time, I started making a root vegetable casserole as part of my traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I think the original idea came out of a magazine, but I never followed a recipe. In those days, I made a roux, thinned with cream, and added grated romano to make the sauce and then poured over a few different types of root veggies and baked for at least an hour. I always made this as one of three dishes I could make ahead the evening before and simply reheat in the oven after the turkey was done and while I was getting everything else ready to serve.
I’m not sure why it took me so long to create a Paleo version of this old favorite. I was surprised how close to the flavor I could replicate in the absence of grains or dairy! This dish certainly doesn’t need to be relegated to the holiday-only dish list, but it is undeniably a comforting and fitting accompaniment for a traditional (Paleofied!) turkey dinner!
Using yellow summer squash or peeled zucchini to make the sauce was quite an amazing discovery! For some reason, there’s a hint of a cheese taste from zucchini that you just can’t get with other veggies (you could also use cauliflower, for more of a gravy taste, or really bump up the beta carotene and use carrots or pumpkin too). If you like, a generous pinch of cinnamon in the sauce goes a long way too!
If you’re looking for ideas or recipes for a Paleo or AIP Thanksgiving meal, I’m giving away my ThePaleoMom’s Thanksgiving Feast e-book for free to newsletter subscribers! It contains 24 recipes, several of which are exclusive to the e-book (like an AIP dinner roll recipe!), along with shopping tips, and even a schedule for what to start cooking when on Thanksgiving Day! Sign up to get your free copy here.
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields: 8-10 servings
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 yellow onion, sliced into half moons
- 1 lb yellow summer squash (or peeled zucchini), diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 4 lbs (about 10 cups diced) root vegetables (use at least 4 different kinds, such as sweet potatoes, any variety of winter squash, green plantain, parsnip, carrot, boniato, etc.), diced into 3/4” pieces
- Heat 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally until browned, about 10 minutes.
- Remove onions from the skillet and place in a 9”x9” casserole dish; set aside. Add another 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil and add summer squash to the pan. Cook, stir- ring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
- Add broth and wine to the summer squash. Simmer until liquid reduces by two thirds, about 15 minutes. Add salt.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Carefully pour contents of skillet into a blender. Blend on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until completely smooth. Taste and add extra salt, if needed. You want this sauce to be a little salty.
- Toss diced root vegetables with caramelized onion in the casserole dish. Pour the sauce from the blender all over the root veggies.
- Bake uncovered for 50 minutes to an hour, until root veggies are fully cooked. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Multitasking note: you have plenty of time while onion and zucchini are browning and while broth is reducing to chop up all the root vegetables for the casserole.
Make ahead note: You can either do steps 1-6 the day before, and then bake before serving or fully cook the day before (bake for 40-45 minutes, until the root vegetables are cooked al dente) and then reheat for 30 minutes in the oven before serving.