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GOOD COOKING

Side Dishes, fot Tradition's Sake

November 30, 1995|ABBY MANDEL

Although turkey and dressing claim center stage during the holidays, it's important to remember that a feast has many facets. Side dishes and desserts do not necessarily take second place.

As with many holiday favorites, each of the following dishes has a history. For years, a friend brought creamed spinach as her contribution to holiday dinners. We all loved it so much that the year she changed her plans at the last minute and did not come, I had to devise a quick and easy substitution. Baked "creamed" spinach is what I served.

If I didn't make yam and apple casserole every year during the holidays, there would be open rebellion in my family. It's not redundant with dessert; it's just more of a good thing.

The side dishes can be made up to two days ahead and refrigerated (they can also be frozen if you have time). The cake can be baked a day ahead and kept at room temperature.

YAM AND APPLE CASSEROLE

This combination is a little more subtle than it appears. The yam mixture isn't that sweet, nor are the apples. I've made this dish for 20 consecutive years for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners; it's always in demand.

2 (16-ounce) cans yams, drained

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup dark corn syrup

2 tablespoons dry sherry

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced thin

Puree yams, 2 tablespoons melted butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, sherry, cinnamon and salt in food processor until smooth.

Spread 1/2 yam mixture in greased 10-inch round shallow baking dish or pie plate. Arrange 1/2 of apple slices over. Spread remaining yam mixture over top, then repeat with remaining apples, arranging in attractive pattern. Brush apples with remaining melted butter. Recipe can be prepared up to 2 days ahead to this point and refrigerated overnight, covered airtight. Let come to room temperature before cooking.

Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, until apples are lightly browned, about 35 minutes. Serve hot.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

288 calories; 172 mg sodium; 16 mg cholesterol; 6 grams fat; 58 grams carbohydrates; 0 protein; 2.05 grams fiber.

BAKED 'CREAMED' SPINACH

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 cup minced onion

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained

2 (12-ounce) packages frozen spinach souffle, thawed

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add onion and garlic. Cook, uncovered, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes, stirring often.

Meanwhile, wrap thawed chopped spinach in a dish towel. Squeeze to release some but not all of water. Add chopped spinach to skillet and mix well with onions and garlic. Cook through. Remove from heat. Stir in spinach souffle, nutmeg and pepper. Adjust seasoning.

-Pour into greased, shallow 5-cup baking dish. Spread smooth with spatula. Spinach can be made to this point up to two days ahead and refrigerated, well covered.

Bake, uncovered, until edges are bubbling and surface is a darker green but not brown, about 45 minutes. Serve hot.

Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains about:

153 calories; 413 mg sodium; 90 mg cholesterol; 9 grams fat; 11 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams protein; 0.75 gram fiber.

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