Complete festive meals with vegetables dressed in their holiday best

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

There is more flexibility in the choice of a holiday menu now that turkey is not just a once- or twice-a-year treat. Why not consider roast beef, crown roast of pork, chicken, duck, or goose? Whatever the decision, the choice of vegetables remains much the same.

They may no longer be home-grown, fresh from the farm vegetable bin, or prepared in the simple ways of bygone days, but the list is familiar: squash, creamed onions, sweet potatoes, peas, and turnips for those who think dinner is not complete without them.

Sweet potatoes and squash appeal as much to the eye as the taste buds. If you serve one of them, you may wish to dispense with the other. Sweet Potato-Apple Casserole 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1/8 teaspoon salt 2 pounds peeled, cooked sweet potatoes 2 Golden Delicious apples, sliced 3 tablespoons melted butter, divided 1/2 cup shredded coconut 1/4 cup chopped pecans

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 1-quart shallow baking dish. In small bowl combine brown sugar, ginger, and salt. Set aside. Cut sweet potatoes into 1 /2-inch thick slices. Arrange half in baking dish. Cover with apples.

Sprinkle half the brown sugar mixture over apples. Top with remaining sweet potato slices. Sprinkle with remaining brown sugar. Spoon on 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine. Cover and bake 35 minutes. Remove from oven.

Combine coconut, chopped pecans, and remaining butter. Sprinkle over sweet potatoes. Return to oven and bake 10 minutes more or until coconut is lightly browned. Serves 6 to 8. Petits Pois and Onions 1/2 pound lean bacon slices, diced 3 tablespoons butter or margarine 12 small white onions 2 tablespoons flour 1 cup turkey or chicken stock or broth 2 10-ounce packages frozen peas 1/4 teaspoon tarragon 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Soak diced bacon in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain. Heat bacon and butter in large skillet over medium heat until bacon is lightly browned but not crisp.

Add onions and brown slowly on all sides until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove bacon and onions from pan. Set aside on a plate. Stir flour into pan drippings, mixing with a wooden spoon.

Slowly add stock, stirring constantly. Add peas to this mixture. Simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Return onions and bacon to pan. Stir in tarragon, salt, and pepper. Serves 6. Turnip Fluff 2 pounds turnips, peeled, cooked, drained, and mashed 1/4 cup half and half 1 egg beaten 2 tablespoons brown sugar 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 2 tablespoons uncooked farina Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 1-quart baking dish. Combine all ingredients in medium bowl and mix thoroughly. Spoon lightly into baking dish. Bake until set and top is golden, about 40 minutes. Serves 6. Creamed Onions With Cheddar 2 pounds small white onions 6 tablespoons butter or margarine 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 1/2 cups milk 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese Paprika

Add onions to 1-inch boiling, salted water in medium saucepan over medium heat. Return to boil. Cover and cook 10 to 15 minutes until tender.

Meanwhile, in medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth. Slowly stir in milk and salt and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir cheese into the thickened sauce. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until cheese is melted.

Drain onions and place in serving dish. Pour on sauce and sprinkle with paprika. Serves 8 to 10. Gingered Butternut Squash 2 butternut squash 4 tablespoons butter or margarine 1 tablespoon maple syrup 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger Salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/2 cup heavy cream

Split squash in half; scoop out seeds and membranes. Pare. Cut into chunks. Cook in boiling salted water to cover 30 minutes or until tender. Drain. Return saucepan to low heat for a few minutes, shaking occasionally to dry vegetables. Add butter, syrup, ginger, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Beat with a portable electric mixer until mixture is smooth. Gradually beat in cream Spoon into heated serving dish. Keep warm. Garnish with additional ginger if you wish. Serves 10.

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