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Bring on those unique ingredients and never tried recipes. It's Thanksgiving and time to feast.

In my family, our Thanksgiving tradition is that we don't have any. Anything goes on our Thanksgiving table. Of course we have the standards: a roasted turkey, mashed potatoes with Julie's gluten-free gravy and traditional pumpkin pie, but beyond that there are no restrictions. Bring on those unique ingredients and never tried recipes. It's Thanksgiving and time to feast.

Luckily we are all pretty accomplished cooks so everything comes out tasting and looking just fine.

Thinking some cooks may not be that adventurous, I share a few recipes today of tried and true Thanksgiving sides, dishes I can endorse as being delicious and complimentary to a menu of roasted turkey and stuffing.

Roasted grapes can be used as you would cranberry sauce, with poultry or pork. The recipe below has you add them to crostini for a delightful appetizer, but feel free to make a few extra to use alongside your bird.

Roasted cauliflower was all the rage a few winters ago, and it bares repeating. Serve it whole on a platter for an impressive presentation and let guests slice off their own serving.

For dessert there is always enough pie at our table, so something a bit less caloric is always appreciated. I'll make poached pears to serve with a wedge of Rogue River Blue cheese, which was named the World Champion Cheese 2019 in Bergamo, Italy last month. Rogue River Blue is the World Cheese Awards' first ever American champion, rising to the top from 3,804 entries from 43 countries.

This is truly tasty and special cheese. Made of organic cow's milk, it is cave-aged for nine to 11 months and hand-wrapped in organic Syrah grape leaves that have been soaked in pear liqueur. It is a party all by itself.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. Here's to a series of cozy winter festivities focuses on great foods, friends and family.

Bon Appetit! Make eating an adventure!

Roasted Grape Crostini with Goat Cheese and Walnuts

Yields 24 servings

4 cups red grapes

1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup crumbed fresh goat cheese

24 slices baguette, lightly toasted

1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

1 tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 325F. Coat a large glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Stir grapes, oil, salt, thyme and pepper in a medium bowl. Spread out in one layer in the baking disyh. Roast, stirring occasionally until wrinkled and caramelized, 48 to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over grapes, and stir to coat. Set aside.

Spread goat cheese on the baguette, dividing equally. Top with grape mixture. Sprinkle with walnuts and drizzle with honey.

Recipe courtesy of healthyseasonalrecipes.com.

Mustard Parmesan Whole Roasted Cauliflower

Yield: 8-10 servings

2 large heads cauliflower

1 clove garlic, halved

1/4 cup olive oil

4 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Lemon wedges, for serving

Position oven rack in the bottom of the oven and preheat to 450F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Remove the leaves from the cauliflower, then trim the stem flush with the bottom of the head so the cauliflower sits flat on the prepared baking sheet. Rub the outside of each head with the cut garlic.

Whisk together the oil, 3 tablespoons mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a small bowl.

Put the cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet and brush the entire outside and inside with the mustard-oil mixture. Roast the cauliflower until nicely charred and tender (a long skewer inserted into the center of the cauliflower should pass through easily), 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let rest for a few minutes.

Meanwhile combine the parsley and Parmesan in a small bowl. Brush the outside of the roasted cauliflower heads all over with the remaining 1 tablespoon mustard and generously sprinkle with the Parmesan mixture.

Cut the cauliflower into thick wedges and serve on plates with a sprinkle of salt, lemon wedges and any extra Parmesan mixture.

Recipe courtesy of the FoodNetwork.com.

Pears Poached in Red Wine, Cardamom and Orange

Makes 4 servings

1 750-ml bottle dry red wine

2 1/4 cups sugar

2 cups water

1/2 cup orange juice

2 teaspoons grated orange peel

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 cinnamon stick

4 firm but ripe pears, peeled, stems left intact

Optional: wedge of bleu cheese, vanilla ice cream, orange peel strips for garnish

Combine first 7 ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to simmer. Add pears and return mixture to simmer. Reduce heat and simmer slowly until pears are tender when pierced with knife, about 25 minutes. Transfer pears to plate. Boil liquid in saucepan until reduced to 3 cups, about 20 minutes. (Can be made 1 day head. Cover and chill pears in poaching liquid. Before serving, rewarm over medium-low heat until pears are heated through.)

To serve arrange 1 warm pear on plate. Serve with either bleu cheese or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Drizzle some poaching liquid over pear. Garnish with orange peel strips if using and serve.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit March 1997.

Barb Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached by phone at 503-479-2374 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. She is the author of "Willamette Valley Wineries" and a member of the Society of Wine Educators. Follow her on Twitter @barbrandallfood.


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