Ten Twists on Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Perhaps the greatest food holiday of the year, Thanksgiving is the time we all give ourselves permission to over do it. Every year, as the football game sounds in the background, and my belt is loosened a notch or two, a wonderful feeling of comfort, warmth, and satisfaction washes over me, as much of what I just enjoyed is just like it was 30 yrs ago, when I sat at my parent's dinning room table. And while those comfort foods are always present, I also usually tweak at least a couple of the dishes to keep them new, fresh and modern. Here's several favorites that I've brought to my families' Thanksgiving table, that I'm sure you'll enjoy!
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
We've all had bad Brussel sprouts. The kind that are boiled or steamed until they are an unrecognizable mess. Not Good. But cooked well, they can be the best veggie on the Turkey Day dinner table. I love to roast mine off at high heat until they are caramelized on the outside with tender centers. They turn slightly sweet, with a bit of crunchy texture on the outside! My favorite!
Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes have always been a staple on our Thanksgiving dinner table. To make them a bit more special, and a bit more healthy, try this version that adds pureed cauliflower along with the potatoes. Depending on how much you like cauliflower, use a lot or a little, but everyone who partakes will notice a richer, more savory mashed potato, that I'm sure they are going to love!
As an alternative, or in addition to, mashed potatoes, give this Carrot Puree a try. My favorite thing about this recipe, is the incredibly vibrant bright color, that really pops out. I add some potatoes to the puree to round out the flavor, add some additional body, and a creamier texture to the puree. It's also great garnished with walnuts or pecans!
Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and Cheese, is very common for Thanksgiving, especially in the parts of the South. And who can blame them - Mac 'n Cheese is awesome. The standard versions are great, but in the Fall, I've started making a pumpkin Mac and cheese. it has all the great texture and cheese flavors in the original, with the subtle flavor of the season running throughout.
This Jicama salad is one of my favorite "chopped" salads. If you're unfamiliar with Jicama, it has subtle flavor somewhere between an apple and pear, but much more mild, and a great crunchy texture. Along with the chopped jicama, I add some apple, walnuts, and blue cheese, and serve it over a bed of fresh butter lettuce. Lightly dressed, it's a great fresh, Fall salad.
Coconut Curry Butternut Squash
My Butternut Squash soup has become famous amongst my friends and family, and so I was a bit hesitant to change it. But of course I can't help myself. One of my favorite variations adds some coconut milk and curry powder to create a more exotic version. It's certainly a bit of an un-orthodox Thanksgiving soup...but what's wrong with un-orthodox?
Broccoli. Yes Broccoli. But not soggy, over cooked, grey colored broccoli. In this broccoli gratin dish, I show you how to perfectly cook the broccoli, so it's still firm, yet tender, and bright vibrant green. And then admittedly, my favorite part of the dish, is the gratin - breadcrumbs with a bit of parmesan cheese and olive oil, quickly baked on top that provides a great texture and flavor component that you're going to love!
Stuffing vegetables is a great way to make them more interesting and exciting. This version of stuffed zucchini brings the additional flavor of bacon, cheese and onions to the squash. The bread crumbs, which brown in the oven, turn crunchy and provides a great contrast to the softer cooked zucchini.
Green Beans Almondine
Traditional yes, but there's a reason certain dishes become classics. Green beans are pretty much always on my Thanksgiving table, and it only takes about 5 extra minutes to toast up a few slivered almonds, add a bit of butter, and you've got Green Beans Almondine. There's some magical about the combo that really makes the simple green bean so much more special.
Potato Gratin with Leek
If mashed potatoes aren't your thing, but you've still got a hankering for our starchy friend, look no further than a Potato Gratin. You can make them a hundred different ways, but one of my favorites is this version with sauted leeks. The leeks have mild onion flavor, that goes perfectly with the potato and the cheese. Roasted until the top is crusty and the center tender - you'll love it!