Holiday Feast Issue

Seasonal Sides

The Farmers’ Stand chef Johnny Alamilla uses seasonal vegetables and ingredients to create both traditional and unconventional Thanksgiving dishes

By Maggie Dresser
Two Bear Farm acorn squash stuffed with Montana farro, mushrooms and local kale served with an orange jalapeño cranberry sauce by chef Johnny Alamilla on Nov. 19, 2021. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Growing up in a hybrid Latino and Eastern European household, with his father hailing from Honduras and his mother of Russian and Polish descent, Johnny Alamilla remembers an infusion of Central American and traditional dishes during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Now a chef at The Farmers’ Stand in Whitefish following a culinary career at high-end restaurants in San Francisco, Alamilla carries on that tradition in both his professional and at-home food creations.

But one common thread remains consistent in all of his dishes – working with seasonal ingredients to make fresh and flavorful meals.

Alamilla steps outside the traditional realm of Thanksgiving recipes and he suggests a radicchio salad made with Sweet Sixteen apples from Fifth Generation Orchards in Whitefish, local celery, radicchio, candied walnuts and aged cheddar smothered in a chive ranch dressing made with honey from Marion.

“It happens to be really seasonal right now with the apples and celery and all of those fall flavors,” Alamilla said. “It’s a dish from one of my restaurants and radicchio tends to be better this time of year. It’s pretty familiar to me and all of my cooking is really about seasonality.”

Alamilla also cooks traditional dishes, including a stuffed acorn squash made with cremini mushrooms, Golden Triangle farro and kale and caramelized onions, which came from Two Bear Farm in Whitefish. His cranberry dish is made with Oregon cranberries, jalapenos and oranges.

No matter what dish you’re cooking, Alamilla tells people not to take cooking to seriously.

“Just be grateful,” Alamilla said. “People forget what this holiday is about and you’re lucky to have anything to eat sometimes because there’s so many people that don’t. That’s what I try to remember most. It’s super fun cooking holiday food but don’t put pressure on it.”

Stuffed Acorn Squash and Cranberry Sauce

Squash
Wash and cut acorn squash in half lengthways and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Rub with safflower oil, Kosher salt, black pepper and minced fresh thyme – about a teaspoon of each. Roast flesh-side down on a lined baking sheet in a preheated 350-degree oven for approximately 20-25 minutes. Test with a fork and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then invert and allow to cool at room temperature. The squash will receive more cooking time once stuffed.

Stuffing
1 ½ cup farro
½ cup diced onion
½ cup celery
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 cups sliced mushrooms
3 cups lacinato kale washed and sliced thin
Bring 3 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil, add farro, stir occasionally and simmer about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a separate pan, add safflower oil, onions, salt and pepper. Add mushrooms, celery, kale and garlic. Add farro to pan and add remaining ingredients.
Stuff each squash with ample amounts of filling and top with cheese or breadcrumbs. Return squash to oven and bake 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Cranberry Sauce
Squash
1 pint fresh cranberries
2 ½ cups of cold water
½ cup of sugar
3 tablespoons minced jalapeno
1 tablespoon ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Zest and juice from one orange
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients except jalapeno in a heavy gauge pot and simmer while stirring occasionally over medium-high heat until thick for about 30 to 40 minutes. Add jalapenos and remove from heat to cool.

Radicchio salad with apples, celery, Lifeline Dairy raw milk cheddar, toasted walnuts drizzled with a honey chive ranch by chef Johnny Alamilla on Nov. 19, 2021. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Honey Chive Ranch – 1 pint
1 cup thick Greek yogurt
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
¼ cup Oil Barn MT safflower oil
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients well and allow to sit at least one hour. Taste and add salt and/ or pepper as needed.
Radicchio Salad- serves 4
1 cup thick Greek yogurt
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
¼ cup Oil Barn MT safflower oil
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
Quarter, core and slice the radicchio and combine with remaining ingredients and season well with salt and pepper.

Chef’s Tips
• Make salad dressings and prep the day before
• Drink a cocktail while cooking

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