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Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes

I'm making my first Thanksgiving dinner outside of my parent's house this year. We have a fairly set in stone menu for special occasions and it lacks imagination. I already know my Turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, but I'm not a big veggie eater and I don't know what kind of veggie sides to make that are a bit fancier than frozen peas. Any suggestions?

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    1. re: maplesugar

      I looked up thanksgiving sides and the first three pages did not have anything to do with what I wanted, before I created this thread. That other thanksgiving sides thread has 12 replies and there isn't anything I want there. That's why I created this new thread.

      Thanks though.

      1. re: Bryn

        For Thanksgiving, I usually make roasted sweet potatoes - (wash the potatoes, prick with a fork a couple times, and then roast on a foil lined sheet for about 45 minutes, or peel and slice, season with salt and pepper, thyme and a little brown sugar and butter and bake at 400 for about 20 mins).

        I also am a fan of green beans almondine - wash string beans and saute in olive oil with garlic or shallots. Add a splash of white wine, salt and pepper and cook until tender. Add a pat of butter and shopped toasted almonds.

        Since I married my husband, we also make stuffed mushrooms - mix breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley and chopped stems. Wet with a little olive oil and stuff into mushroom caps. Bake at 400 for about 20 mins and broil to brown if you like at the end.

        That's pretty much what we do. One year I tried brussel sprouts, but that didn't go over so well, so we're back to these traditions. Hope that helps!

    2. Our side dishes are very traditional for New England.

      Butternut or Acorn Squash. We do butternut if the number of people around the table goes over 8. The butternut squash is baked or steamed and then put through the food mill with some butter and nutmeg. Acorn squash is cut in half, baked for an hour face down, and then flipped, drizzled with a bit of butter and maple syrup and baked for an additional 15 minutes.

      Creamed Pearl Onions. This is a big project which starts with steaming a ton of onions, popping out the delicious middles and stirring into the bechamel sauce. I make this on Tuesday and warm up in a double boiler.

      Boston Baked Beans. This is another labor of love. The beans are started on Tuesday so that they can be inserted and removed from the oven so that they are never cooking at high temperatures.

      Green Tomato Relish. Just cause we always have green tomatoes at the end of the season here. I make the relish sometime in October and it is ready for the t-day table.

      Cranberry Chutney. I make a cranberry sauce/chutney with cranberries and oranges. This doesn't have any gelatin in it, so it is spooned onto the plate and mixes into other ingredients.

      These two items have been added to make my Southern husband feel at home:
      Mashed Potatoes
      Steamed Green Beans. He, and I, hate the concoction known as Green Bean Casserole, so we simply steam the beans, and toss with a little butter and lemon juice.

      Now can we talk pies???

      4 Replies
      1. re: smtucker

        My friend is bringing the pie. I just don't like that many vegetables. I was thinking baked beans, but I didn't know it went with Turkey. Thanks!

        1. re: smtucker

          I'm interested in your creamed pearl onions, are you using fresh, and would like to know if you peel them or do you buy these frozen? I make a pretty good beef bourguignon and it calls for fresh pearl onions, and let me tell ya, peeling the onions is rather tedious, but absolutely worth the effort.

          Your dish sounds delicious.

          1. re: chef chicklet

            This is the most simple recipe, but it takes lots of time. I use fresh pearl onions. I purchase the smallest ones that I can find and buy about three times more than I think I will need. I have a large steamer insert for a soup pot and steam the onions until they are softened. And then, while they are still warm, I trim off one end of each onion, and "pop" the onion out of its shell.

            The bechamel or white sauce is the standard stuff, made with whole milk. I add just a touch of dry mustard, salt and white pepper. My mother adds nutmeg, and sometimes cloves, but I don't. I prefer concentrating on the onion flavor.

            It is sinfully good, especially when it mixes into those baked beans.

            1. re: smtucker

              We always had creamed onions at Grandma Owen's TG dinners, but they were simply smallish white ones rather than pearl. I was the only kid who liked them, though Grandma's inherent laziness showed in the occasional tough outer skin left on. Her white sauce was always perfectly seasoned, though, with just a hint of nutmeg.

        2. I do homemade cranberry sauce with Gran Marnier, but also Ocean Spray canned for the non-believers; corn pudding with a little rum in it; the chipotle yam dish that you can find here (unless your family doesn't like spicy, then baked in brown sugar, butter and maple syrup), broccoli/cheese/Ritz casserole (that's for the people that only like their veggies when disguised), and some kind of green bean casserole. New fangled veg dishes do not go over at all, I usually make one new thing every year for my own benefit, and maybe one out of 10 times it goes into rotation.

          1 Reply
          1. re: coll

            My mother says the problem she found was that you can add new dishes but you can't take any away. I have taken over Thanksgiving essentially so I am still casting about for "my" dishes. Certain things will remain like the pork & chestnut stuffing- Yum!

          2. - roasted veggie medley (sweet potatoes, beets, butternut squash, onions, crimini mushrooms)
            - blanched string beans with balsamic vinaigrette (beans can be done day before)
            - stuffed mushrooms- can be done in portabellos for vegetarian main course
            - roasted brussels sprouts
            - sweet and sour red cabbage
            - roasted carrots and parsnips
            - glazed carrots with ginger
            - arugula salad with fennel

            2 Replies
            1. re: cheesecake17

              The roasted veggies are right up my alley! Thanks

              1. re: Bryn

                It's lots of peeling and chopping, but you can do it the day before. Also, add in the mushrooms when the rest of the veggies are almost done.

            2. We often have twice-baked potatoes rather than mashed at Thanksgiving. Scrub the potatoes well and bake. Then cut in half (long-ways) and scoop out the insides gently with a spoon leaving the peels/shells intact. Mash and whip the potato innards with cream, butter, salt and pepper. Stuff back into the "shells" that you have rubbed with a little olive oil and sea salt, and put a slice of your favorite cheese (we use aged Wisconsin cheddar) down the middle of each half, sprinkle with paprika and bake again on a cookie sheet until cheese is melted.

              Other sides might be:
              - Baked sweet potatoes that are then halved, peeled and sauteed in butter and brown sugar.
              - Roasted butternut squash or root veggie medley (beets, carrots, sweet potatoes).
              - Creamed peas
              - Asparagus with hollandaise
              - Baby spinach salad with vinaigrette that we make from Blood Orange infused olive oil and balsamic vinager (a local find: http://www.queencreekolivemill.com/pr...)

              2 Replies
              1. re: Jen76

                um baked potatoes for thansgiving?? how do you make a gravy volcano with baked potatoes? let alone twice baked ones. seems a little wrong to me. I can see baked sweet potatoes because those aren't vehicles for gravy.

                1. re: sparkareno

                  Er, they aren't just baked potatoes. They are essentially "mashed" and then just stuffed back into the crispy skins with cheese inside. You can't go wrong with cheese or crispy potato skins. And you can certainly still pour gravy over them or even turn them into a "volcano" if you wish (though I don't think I've done that since I was 10). Stuffing and turkey are my family's gravy vehicles of choice. To each his own.