Celebratory Sides – What are your favorites?

beans.jpgIt’s almost Thanksgiving again – that time of year when families get together around the table and vegetarians (like myself) politely decline the turkey, insisting that there’s plenty on the table they can eat.  Somehow – despite the mound of mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, braised greens, salad, green bean casserole, and roasted root veggies on my plate - someone at dinner usually asks me (in a very concerned voice), “But, are you going to have enough?”

For the last several years, health and sustainability advocates have encouraged people to eat less meat, or go vegetarian for a few meals a week.  When a meal does include meat, they recommend that it be treated as a “side dish,” – not as the primary food item on the plate.

More importantly, traditional side dishes should not play second fiddle to a pile of turkey!  They deserve to be delicious and prepared with love, not as an afterthought.  So, whether your table includes a bird, a Tofurky (though, I don’t recommend it), or absolutely no turkey-like item, celebrate your sides!

Leah’s Top 5 ”stand up” side dishes

1. Apple Chesnut Soup with Parsely CroutonsRecipe from Chow

2. Mashed Potatoes with Caramalized Garlic and ParsnipsRecipe from Epicurious

3. Pear, Arugula, and Endive Salad with Candied WalnutsRecipe from Epicurious

4. Fresh Cranberry Relish – Recipe from my mom - 1 12 oz bag fresh cranberries, 1 oranges – scrubbed well and quartered with peel left on half, 3/4 cup-1 cup raw sugar.  Pulse cranberries and oranges in a food processor until they form a chunky relish.  (My mom uses an old fashioned food grinder she found at an antique store, but the processor works fine.  Stir in sugar, a little at a time – to taste.

5. Braised Greens with Garlic - Recipe from me!  Start with a boat-load of greens (ideally a mix of collards, kale, mustard, dandelion, and chard).  Chop up a bunch of garlic.  Steam/saute greens in a big pot with a lid, with garlic and a little bit of water and oil.  Once mostly wilted, drain off excess water and add soy sauce to taste.  Recover and continue cooking until greens are soft, but still chewy.

Other worthy side dishes: roasted Brussels sprouts, delicata squash with rosemary and sea salt, cheddar and kale biscuits, Jerusalem artichoke salad…

What are your favorite celebratory sides for Thanksgiving?

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30 Responses to “Celebratory Sides – What are your favorites?”

  1. Alix Says:

    What??? No mention of dessert? Thanksgiving is one of those holidays when I put my health-conscious cooking aside and make something as decadent as a chocolate-bourbon-pecan pie.

  2. Eric Says:

    Here is a new version of an old favorite that I’d like to try this year. It’s by Alton Brown (aka The Altonur Rebbe) of Good Eats – the best show on TV.

  3. Elisheva Says:

    wild rice salad – yum. wild rice, dried cranberries, pine nuts (or pecans for authenticity), a great salad dressing that includes tarragon or basil, it is SO thanksgiving.

    also, for dessert, pecan pies made 100% with pure maple syrup.

    happy thanking :)

  4. Leah Koenig Says:

    Alix – you’re right, how could I possible forget dessert?! My only defense is that I was thinking of pumpkin pie, apple crumble, and chocolate bourban pecan pie (omg) as a different category as side dishes. Thanks for putting me in my place :) :)

    Speaking of decadent, I just had the idea for making pumpkin flan…here’s a recipe from Bon Appetit http://www.epicurious.com/reci.....ews/108850

    Eric – agreed on Alton Brown – he’s like Bill Nye the Science Guy meets Martha Stewart (before the whole white collar crime stuff, of course).

    Elisheva – here’s a wild rice recipe you might like:

  5. Elisheva Says:

    leah – good call! but I don’t think I can wait for thanksgiving…

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