Quinoa-TabboulehMediterranean Side Show

Decorate your Thanksgiving table with these Mediterranean side dishes.

Let’s face it, many of the calorie-laden side dishes served at Thanksgiving feasts are far from nutritional bell ringers. This means too many servings of butter-laden mashed potatoes or fat-bomb green bean casserole can leave you with extra winter insulation on your midriff. So why not put tired unhealthy side dishes on the back burner and rustle up a few infused with Mediterranean flavor.

A growing body of research shows that the famed Mediterranean diet, replete with vegetables, olive oil, legumes, and whole grains, has all the components to fight disease and keep your waistline from bulging after your turkey dinner. Case in point: A 2012 study by researchers in France found that subjects who adhered to a Mediterranean style of eating had lower waist circumferences, blood pressure, and blood triglycerides, all of which reduce
heart disease risk.

So try these Mediterranean-inspired side dishes, which just may outshine the bird.

Eggplant PizzasEggplant-Pizzas

These whimsical pizza rounds are sure to impress a crowd. Using Japanese-style panko bread crumbs result in a more crispy crust than traditional crumbs.

Serves 4

1 large eggplant
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 large egg
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
3⁄4 cup pasta sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1⁄4 cup fresh basil

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Slice eggplant into eight 1-inch rounds.
In a bowl, stir together bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, oregano, and paprika. In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg.
One at a time, dip eggplant slices in the egg and then the bread crumb mixture, making sure both sides are well coated. Place coated eggplant slices on baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes. Flip slices and cook an additional 10 minutes.
As eggplant cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook mushrooms until softened, about 4 minutes.
Remove eggplant from oven and turn on the broiler. Spread pasta sauce over eggplant slices and top with mushrooms and mozzarella cheese. Broil eggplant pizzas until cheese has melted, about 2 minutes. Served garnished with torn basil and, if desired,additional Parmesan cheese.

TD&N Nutrient Analysis: Calories: 262; Total Fat: 12 g;Saturated Fat: 5 g; Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g; Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 73 mg; Sodium: 413 mg;Carbohydrates: 25 g; Fiber: 5 g; Protein: 15 g

Lentil SaladLentil-Salad
If you are in a holiday time crunch, canned lentils can be substituted for the dried version, but the latter has better texture. Feta cheese, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes give this salad a definite Mediterranean flare. If you have them on hand, also toss in some pomegranate seeds.

Serves 4 to 6

11⁄2 cups dried green lentils
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2⁄3 cup diced feta cheese
1⁄2 cup sliced Kalamata olives
1⁄2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1⁄2 cup walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or walnut oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon red chili flakes

Place lentils and 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Drain lentils and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, toss together cooked lentils, carrots, celery, feta cheese, olives, tomatoes, nuts, and thyme. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, black pepper, and red chili flakes. Add oil mixture to lentil mixture and toss to coat.

TD&N Nutrient Analysis (based on 6 servings): Calories: 388; Total Fat: 22 g; Saturated Fat: 5 g; Polyunsaturated Fat: 6 g; Monounsaturated Fat: 10 g; Cholesterol: 15 mg; Sodium: 479 mg; Carbohydrates: 36 g; Fiber: 9 g; Protein: 15 g