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Untraditional Thanksgiving Side Dishes

  • t

Hey all.
I was wondering if anyone had some interesting suggestions for some untraditional THanksgiving side dishes that taste great but also a little odd and surprising.

Looking forward to some responses.

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  1. BRAISED ONIONS - you can use pearls but small boilers are easier. Pearls are less than 1 inch in diameter, and the small boilers are more like 1.5 inches. This requires patiently going through bins of boilers, fishing out the smaller ones. But pearls are good, too. I do two or three pounds at a time.

    Microwave ten seconds or throw into boiling water briefly - this loosens the skin, and peel them. Cut off the root end.

    Braise in a heavy pot in a mixture of butter and olive oil until caramelized all over. Then pour in beef broth sufficient to almost cover, and simmer with the lid slightly ajar until the onions are cooked through and the broth is syrupy. These will keep for several days, and are delicious spooned over the meat and the various starches.

    YORKSHIRE PUDDING - we do both a turkey and a roast beef every Thanksgiving and do the Joy of Cooking Yorkshire pudding recipe in the roast beef pan when the roast is done. This always gets raves.

    ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES - baby carrots, parsnips, and shallots or purple onions tossed with olive oil and sprinkled with fleur de sel and roasted at 350 until caramelized. Optional - turnips, rutabagas and celery root cut into strips. Optional herbs - rosemary, herbs de Provence, and someone suggested cumin, which I have not tried.

    ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS - blanch, trim, cut in half, toss with olive oil, sprinkle with fleur de del, and roast with either pearl onions or shallots.

    ROASTED ASPARAGUS - snap off the woody ends, toss with olive oil, sprinkle with fleur de sel, and roast until tender and just a tiny bit charred, which gives a pleasing smoky flavor.

    BRAISED BROCCOLINI OR BROCOLLI RABE - we like this better than ordinary broccoli. Blanch, then braise in olive oil until tender-crisp. This is even better if you saute a little minced garlic in the oil first.

    1. r
      Roanna/Eileen H. Kramer

      My family always has cole slaw of some sort at Thanksgiving or did when we all ate together. This bok-slaw (bok choi instead of cabbage) is similar to a salad made in the DeKalb Farmer's Market. It is really terrific.

      Jubulation Bok-Slaw

      You will need.

      3 goodly sized carrots
      The green part of a bunch of scallions (save the
      white part for soups and stews.)
      10oz (approximately) of fresh chinese pea pods (snow peas)
      1 small to medium size head of bok-choi
      1-2 oz of soy sauce
      1-3 oz of lemon juice
      4 oz of olive oil
      1 oz or so of sesame oil
      salt to taste
      Szechuan seasoning to taste
      dried ginger powder to taste

      Peel the carrots and cut off their nubby ends. Grate them
      into a big salad bowl. Wash the pea pods in a colandar and set them to dry out. You can do this right in the colandar. Just leave them alone for a bit. Wash and cut up the green parts of the scallions. Put them in the salad bowl. Put the pea pods in the salad bowl.

      Break leaves off the bok-choi a few at a time and wash them. Then put them on a plate stacked three or so high. Cut a slit or two up the middle and then cut the bok-choi into small pieces. Do this with all the larger bok-choi leaves. Every time you cut up some leaves, put them in the salad bowl. When you get down to the small inner leaves, just cut up the bok-choi into small pieces and add it to the bowl.

      Put soy sauce, salt, and spices into a graduated measuring cup. Add lemon juice. Stir. Add olive and sesame oil. Stir. Taste. Adjust seasonings. Stir again.

      Toss and dress the salad. Put it in a storage container. Bok slaw like coleslaw tastes better after it sits for a day.

      Eileen H. Kramer

      1. r
        Roanna/Eileen H. Kramer

        Scalloped Spahgetti Squash

        For those following kashrus, this dish is DAIRY unless you use soy margarine. With soy margarine, this dish becomes pareve.

        Spaghetti squash is not a vegetable substitute for spaghetti but a winter squash developed in the last fifty years that has delicately sweet stringy flesh. It is football (rugby for you Brits) shaped and yellow or orangey yellow and has a hard rind. Americans should have no trouble finding this vegetable, but it may be scarce in other parts of the world.

        Soft whole wheat bread crumbs
        1 spaghetti squash
        A little water for roasting
        2 tlbsp butter or soy margarine
        Salt to taste
        Spike Seasoning to taste
        Additional butteror soy margarine for dotting and greasing.

        To make soft bread crumbs tear four to six slices of whole wheat bread into little pieces and put in a blender. Bled repeatedly until ground up into crumbs. Put the crumbs in a container with a tight fitting lid. It's OK to have extra, since they keep in the refridgerator or even the freezer.

        Cut the spaghetti squash in half with a pairing knife. Scrape out the seeds. Cut it in half again so you get quarters that stand up. Put the quarters in a roasting pan with water up to the second knuckle of your finger. Cover and roast at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Put the roasted squash in the refridgerator to cool down.

        Yes, you can do both the roast squash and the bread crumbs ahead of time.

        When the squash is cool enough to work with or the next day, scoop it out of its shell and stir it aroudn a bit to loosen the threads. Melt the margarine or butter in a pan on the stove. Pour it over the squash. Add salt and Spike and stir.

        Grease a casserole dish. Add the squash. Top with soft bread crumbs. Dot with more margarine.

        Bake at 450 for fifteen minutes. Remember to leave the top off the casserole dish. Yes, the crumbs will toast and brown. Yes, this is very rich. It is also very good.

        Eileen H. Kramer

        1. How about substituting purple potatoes for your regular ones?

          Halved baked purple potatoes would look very nice alternated with halved baked yams.

          Our local Harris Teeter has fingerling sized purple potatoes as well as bakers.

          1. This recipe for braised brussel sprouts in New York Magazine looks really good, I was thinking of trying it.

            Link: http://www.newyorkmetro.com/restauran...

            1. I always make pickled cucumbers, which provide a refreshing counterpart to all the starches. (My mom's family is Polish, so this is actually traditional for us.)

              4 Replies
              1. re: --susan

                Wow. Would you be willing to share your recipe?

                1. re: bryan

                  I'm not even sure this counts as a "recipe," but this is what I do. All measurements are approximate, to taste, and highly adaptable.

                  Peel two or three cucumbers and slice very thin. Layer in dish, sprinkling kosher salt as you go (don't go crazy with the salt – this should only be a few tablespoons total.) Put some weight on the cucumbers and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes (I place a plate inside the dish and put a canister of rice on top.)

                  Red onion: I don't like the texture of raw onions, so I puree about a 1/4 or 1/2 of a red onion and add it after draining -- see below. You could also slice very thinly and marinate with the cucumbers. You could puree it and still marinate it with the cukes.

                  Drain the liquid off. Give it a quick rinse. Add onion, if you haven't already.

                  Combine 1/3 cup or so of sugar with about a 1/2 cup or so of white vinegar and add to cucumbers and onion. Add a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped mint, and about 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, and a dash of salt, if you need it. Gently stir to distribute. Refrigerate for another hour or so, minimum, before serving. You can garnish with some chopped fresh parsley and a little bit more fresh ground pepper.

                  * Japanese inspired version: Unseasoned rice vinegar, fresh grated ginger instead of mint, and toasted sesame seeds.
                  * Southeast Asian version: Substitute some of the rice vinegar with lime juice, cilantro instead of mint, and add small about of thai chile or chile sauce.
                  * Scandinavian version: Substitute mint with dill.

                  1. re: --susan

                    I do a similiar version except I use cucumbers, red onion, as thinly sliced as possible--with lowfat plain yogurt (stonyfield farms), lemon, fresh dill, salt, and cayenne pepper. Let marinate for 2 or more hours in refrig--delish, and lowfat.

                2. re: --susan

                  Yes, please post the cucumber recipe. D.

                3. I'm actually bringing this casserole over to my Mother-in-law's because it sounds yummy and is slightly different from the standard fare. Plus it's from cooking light.

                  Corn Fritter Casserole

                  3 tablespoons butter, softened
                  3 large egg whites
                  1 (8-ounce) block fat-free cream cheese, softened
                  1/2 cup finely chopped onion
                  1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
                  1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole-kernel corn, drained
                  1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
                  1 (8 1/2-ounce) package corn muffin mix (such as Jiffy)
                  1/4 teaspoon black pepper
                  Cooking spray

                  Preheat oven to 375°.
                  Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Stir in onion, bell pepper, whole-kernel corn, and cream-style corn; mix well. Add muffin mix and black pepper, stirring until well combined. Pour into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

                  Yield: 9 servings (serving size: about 2/3 cup)

                  CALORIES 247 (31% from fat); FAT 8.4g (satfat 3.7g, monofat 2.7g, polyfat 0.7g); PROTEIN 8.6g; CARBOHYDRATE 36.7g; FIBER 1.9g; CHOLESTEROL 31mg; IRON 1.3mg; SODIUM 629mg; CALCIUM 72mg;

                  1. I often make this "garlic pumpkin" recipe I clipped out of Gourmet ages ago. (No idea who wrote it, and there's no attribution at this link, but this is the recipe.) I substitute butternut squash for pumpkin and increase the garlic, and I've never bothered with sunflower seeds. It's just unusual enough--people don't expect savory winter squash dishes--and delicious. And you can make it ahead and reheat it.

                    Link: http://www.recipezaar.com/71076

                    1. c
                      Caitlin Wheeler

                      A couple of weeks ago, someone posted a sweet potato chipotle gratin dish in General Topics that I am planning to make. It's very simple -- just sweet potatoes, chipotle peppers and cream, but a far cry from the usual sweet sweet potatoes with marshmallows or cinnamon or maple syrup or all those other sweet dishes. It's under "Best sweet potato dish ever"

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Caitlin Wheeler

                        I make a basmati rice with special add-ins that I get from Pereg Spice shop in Kew Garden Hills, NY, or you can order them online,,although they don't have alot of the ones they have in their store, but I guess they could ship it...They have amazing fried onions and pistachio mixtures, or dried fruit and pine nuts, really interesting great add ins which transform your otherwise plain but good basmati rice--into something people think you slaved hours over!

                        1. re: Janie

                          Oh, forgot to mention, in case you want to check out their site, it's

                          but if you're in NYC, it's worth a trip to their place--