Thanksgiving Side Dishes

By Sally Cameron on November 18, 2012

Holiday Dishes, Side Dishes, Thanksgiving, Vegetables

What will you serve with that glorious, golden bird? Here is a round up of Thanksgiving side dishes for your holiday table. A few easy (and mostly healthy) recipes. Just don’t tell anyone.

Thanksgiving – Favorite Holiday to Cook For

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday to cook for. Maybe it’s the fall season, or that I have so much to be thankful for, but I love Thanksgiving, and cooking Thanksgiving dinner is the best. Yet many cooks stress out about it, and that is understandable. A traditional Thanksgiving dinner is a feast to put on, and you want everyone to be happy and fulfilled.

Here are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes, along with tips for shopping and preparation

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels sprouts are a prefect side dish for your turkey.  If you think your family or guests won’t like them, try them roasted and you all might be surprised. Roasting makes them sweet and nutty.

  • For shopping figure 6 ounces per person or 3 pounds for serving 8
  • Prep the day before by peeling of any outer leaves that don’t look good, then slice in half top to bottom. Place in a zip bag and refrigerate until Thanksgiving Day. Get them out of the cold a few hours before roasting.
  • An hour before the turkey is done, toss the Brussels sprouts with olive oil and seasonings according to the recipe and place on a parchment lined baking sheet
  • While the turkey is resting, pop the Brussels sprouts into a 400 degree oven and roast for 18 minutes or until golden brown. Place in a bowl, cover and serve for dinner. Drizzle with good Balsamic vinegar or Balsamic syrup for extra pizazz.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts|AFoodCentricLife.com

Baby Green Beans with Shallots, Pecans and Pomegranate Seeds

Another classic vegetable side dish is green beans. No, not the ones smothered with processed canned soup and canned fried onion rings, but fresh cooked baby green beans with beautiful garnishes like pomegranate seeds, pecans and sautéed shallots.

  • For shopping, figure 2-3 ounces per person.
  • The day before, drop the trimmed beans in boiling salted water for 5 minutes then immediately chill in an ice water bath. When cold, drain on a clean kitchen towel and refrigerate until Thursday.
  • Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before heating for dinner
  • To serve for Thanksgiving dinner, heat in a 350 degree oven in a casserole dish covered with foil for approximately 30 minutes or until hot. Top with garnishes like chopped pecans, pomegranate arils (seeds) and sautéed shallots as you prefer.

Thanksgiving Green Beans|AFoodCentricLife.com

Dressing or Stuffing?

While the terms have become interchangeable, for me if it’s inside the bird its stuffing. If it’s baked on the side, it’s dressing. Whatever you call it, here is a traditional herbed bread stuffing you can start two days ahead to save time. Your bird will roast faster un-stuffed, and it’s actually safer from a food safety standpoint.

My traditional Bread Stuffing with Herbs recipe will serve 6-8 people and scales up easily to feed more. Start 1-2 days ahead by cutting your bread into cubes, drying them overnight, then making the stuffing Wednesday. Bake Thursday. For a gluten-free, wheat-free option, try this cornbread and cranberry dressing recipe.

Cornbread Cranberry Dressing

Mashed Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes

For potatoes, whether sweet or regular, here are two recipes. Whipped sweet potatoes with rosemary and classic mashed potatoes are both delicious. The whipped sweet potatoes are simple and healthy – no marshmallows required. All you need is a hand mixer to whip them after cooking. Figure 6-8 ounces per person raw weight when shopping.

Classic Mashed Potates

Mashed potatoes are made creamy with sour cream or Greek yogurt (which gives them a nice tang). To make them over-the-top, use a little white truffle butter. It’s worth the splurge.

For fluffy mashed potatoes I prefer to use Yukon Gold potatoes and a tool called a ricer. I figure 8 ounces per person raw weight when shopping. If you are doing a large quantity for a crowd, you can make them a few hours ahead and keep them warm in a slow cooker over low heat covered with plastic film then the lid for a few hours. A trick I’ve used many times for catered parties.

Easy Cranberry Relish

And one more side you can’t do without – an easy, no-cook cranberry relish anyone can make. Save the drained juice for adding to sparkling water or sparkling wine for a festive touch.

To Finish The Feast – Dessert

No Thanksgiving dinner would be complete without something pumpkin. Here are a few ideas: Creamy Spiced Pumpkin Mousse (reduced sugar and dairy-free version) or Spiced Pumpkin Mousse (original version). Here is also a more traditional option, a pumpkin tart in an almond-coconut flour (gluten-free) crust. Just a small piece will satisfy or a few bites will satisfy.

Spiced Pumpkin Tart

Take Time to be Thankful

In spite of the tumultuous year we’ve all had, we still have much to be thankful for. I hope that this Thanksgiving, as you gather with friends and family, you will stop to be thankful and reflect on another year that has passed quickly.

Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Time to enjoy being in the kitchen to create a feast for your family and friends. No matter how it comes out it will be terrific, because it’s really about being together to celebrate, to live, to love and to laugh.

Few More Notes

For the perfect turkey, I use this recipe from the LA Times. I used to wet brine my birds. Now, I always dry brine. It’s so easy and the results are fantastic.

For the best gravy and turkey soup afterwards, make a batch of homemade turkey broth ahead of time. You can even freeze it.

1 Comment
  1. Karen - November 22nd, 2012

    Happy Thanksgiving Sally! I can’t think of a better way to start the day than sit in bed with a cup of coffee while reading your blog. I know how much care and time goes into a post so I really appreciate your work. Okay, this year I ordered a catered dinner because I did not have a range hooked up until yesterday! So i gave myself a little grace. BUT I am excited to tell you the first thing I made in the new oven was five minute artisan bread. It came out beautiful considering I had the help of my son.

    I too usually get a Marys or Diestel turkey. Its funny because some of my gfs who cook like crazy prefer the ol’ Butterball for Thanksgiving. Uh, no thanks!

    I will be cranking out your recipes for my holiday dinners. This year, instead of throwing a party I want to have one-family dinner parties on every weekend night.

    I love all your brussel sprout ideas and I eager to try one of the pumpkin mousses. I can imagine just a little “crush” of gingerbread cookie as a garnish. I am the Garnish queen. I can’t restrain myself from a little flourish!

    Have a blessed day Sally!

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