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Green vegetable for Thanksgiving

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Looking for suggestions for something to provide contrast with all the sweet, heavy, mushy carb-y sides.

Brussel sprouts and broccoli hated by most.

We will have a mixed green salad with lemon vinaigrette. And what else? Currently under consideration (but would welcome other thoughts):

Green beans with marcona almonds
Green beans in little packages wrapped with bacon (or scallion for the vegetarians).
Roasted or sauteed broccoli raab with fennel
Greens (kale or spinach) with pinenuts, raisins, apples
Braised endive (but I think too mushy).

Rest of menu: Turkey, mashed potato, roasted sweet potato, mac and cheese, truly weird family stuffing recipe, salad, cranberry sauces, cornbread.

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  1. Been doing this with first three, now four generations. Who allowed the kids to grow up and get married!!!

    I am responsible for vegetables. Used to show my artistry and expertise, and had lots of leftovers after feeding 15 to 30 folks. No reason to slave in the kitchen 3-4 hours prepping and cooking while everybody else is enjoying parades, neighborhood soccer, Manhattans, and the hot tub. I now stay with the basics.

    All veggies are fresh. Hollandaise is Knorr, cheese sauce is Velveeta or Kraft. I use heavy cream and butter, and use fleur de sal for more intimate meals. I usually steam boccoli or cauliflower and drown in cheese sauce. Asparagus with hollandaise is a requirement. So are stuffed mushrooms. Half seafood, half sausage.

    I have tried the more esoteric green veggies. When cooking to excite, they expect it. But for my crowd, not for Thanksgiving. As one young lass put it, "Can't we just have some canned corn with butter?" It has been on the table for the last 10 plus years And I wouldn't want it any other way.

    1. I say the green beans with almonds. If most hate broccoli, are they okay with broccoli raab? I know the flavour is quite different, but there is a strong visual resemblance.

      1. If you've got salad already, are you sure you need more green on the light side?

        Green beans, even just straight up, would be my first thought.

        You don't mention green peas, which play nice next to mashed potatoes and gravy, IMO.

        1. WE do green beans- a bit of onion, butter and S/P. We also do spinach- quickly sauteed with garlic and lemon. Our crowd loves brussel sprouts, so they are on our table. Two of the kids love asparagus- so we serve that roasted- not a fall vegetable, but if they eat it, is is all good! To be truthful, we are vegetable heavy at our meal- We do not serve a geen salad, but do have cabbage salad. Also have carrots, butternut, beets, creamed onions, creamed cauliflower, peas, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. Of course, stuffing, cranberry sauce, lots of gravy and rolls.

          2 Replies
            1. re: Bada Bing

              We do steamed asparagus every year. The crunchiness and flavor contrast well with the other sides. I used to do fresh green beans but (a) our local grocer started having excellent sale prices on asparagus at Thanksgiving every year, and (b) it takes far less time to prep asparagus than fresh green beans. Yes, the asparagus is flown in from Peru (or a similar venue) but, aside from root vegetables, there's not much local produce in the stores in late November in Chicago.

          1. Creamed spinach or creamed kale. If you want a delicious cheat, Boston Market's creamed spinach is wonderful, but get it as takeout from one of their restaurants. The frozen BM CS sold in supermarkets is NOT the same.

            1. a layer salad is a must at our table and also always collard greens!

              1. a slaw of some sort? Those oriental cole slaws that use the broken up ramen noodles and seasoning packet to make a dressing are great are always a hit even if it is chruch lady food.
                If they hate broccoli, I can't imagine raab being a win. I have not had good recpetion for braised endive at dinner parties (I love it).
                A raw kale caesar salad is yummy and different.
                Blistered green beans with hoisin and bacon like this: http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Asian-Gr...
                A cold, marinated green bean salad, maybe with corn, onion and an herb? In the summer I use basil and add tomatoes, but you could improvise something more seasonal.

                1. I love these string beans with shallots. I have even blanched the string beans a day ahead and made the shallot sauce a day ahead and just reheated to serve.


                  1. running down your list...
                    - i'm always a fan of roasted green beans with shallots & almonds. i like to hit them with a little sherry vinegar to punch up the flavor - it provides a nice kick of acidic brightness among all the heavy flavors of the meal...or you could do them with browned butter & pine nuts.
                    - i'm a fennel freak, but if your crew is anti-brussels and broccoli, i don't imagine the bitterness of raab going over too well.
                    - kale or spinach as you described would be lovely, though in keeping with the holiday (and because i prefer them), i'd use cranberries instead of raisins. you could do it as a raw salad, but since you've already got a mixed green, i'd go with a sauté.
                    - i agree the endive texture isn't what you're looking for.

                    as far as other ideas:
                    - no peas, they're too starchy.
                    - asparagus isn't in season.
                    - rainbow chard would be another delicious seasonal option, and it looks beautiful.

                    1. If you have picky eaters, simple sauteed green beans are probably your best bet. If you can convince people to be a little more adventurous, sauteed kale, mustard greens or chard (or a combination) would be nice, as would either a raw fennel salad (love the crunch) or roasted fennel, sauteed shredded Brussels sprouts (I know you said most people are haters, but if they've never had them shredded, they may not even recognize them as Brussels sprouts), sauteed bok choy, or to add a little more color, a variety of mild peppers (green, red, yellow, banana, poblano), roasted and topped with a little parmesan cheese, then broiled.

                      1. Thank you! These are all really helpful suggestions and ideas. What I have realized about Thanksgiving (and we've been hosting 10 years so apparently it took me awhile to really get it) is that EVERYONE in the family, myself included, gets bummed and kinda demanding if they don't have the thing they want the most. And, enough people come from out of town that morning so that telling them "great, then bring your favorite thing" doesn't work for most. Still, the sheer number of starchy sides are because so and so really wants X but so and do REALLY wants Y....For me, really good veggies are key to any meal, and I am just not that excited about green beans this year. But if I prep and blanch them ahead of time they would be pretty easy, and since we are having 25 people that would be key...Endive would be easy and is SO delicious but I agree with the folks who said it is not quite right or a crowd-pleaser. Spinach would be easy if I just buy boxes of baby spinach prewashed but I would need like 10 boxes and don't have the fridge room! Husband just said "buy it frozen!" but that seems not quite right. Though it is so good with the pinenuts and fruit that maybe frozen, squeezed out a bit, would be fine. Right now I would say greenbeans with bacon (probably the crowd-pleaser in the bunch) or the almonds version are probably in the lead, with sauteed greens a close second... Would welcome any more thoughts!

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: LilyB

                          you can blanch and cool the green beans and store for a couple days. toss with olive oil and plenty of salt and run under the broiler just before serving. this will give a nice color and crunch. sprinkle with toasted, slivered almonds. easy-peazy.

                          i plead guilty to preparing WAAAAAAAY too much every thanksgiving, and i only host a few people. it's a very intimate meal and yet every year i cook for an army, lol. this year, i swear to contain myself. these green beans will be on my table.

                          as an aside, i have made a shaved brussels sprouts salad, with raw brussels, and it gets gobbled even by the haters. it' an excellent crunchy counter-point to all the soft carbs.

                          1. re: LilyB

                            I like to serve garlic green beans. It's simple, mostly do ahead, and everyone loves it except the grandchild that thinks only jelly beans are a proper vegetable. Blanch the green beans the day before, shock with ice, drain and dry, then store in the fridge. When you are ready to finish the dish toast 2 or 4 cloves of garlic in a skillet - leave the papery husks on the cloves - until they are slightly browned all over and are soft. Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in the skillet, quickly saute the green beans, then add the garlic - I use a garlic press so that little bits of the toasted garlic get spread on everything. Use a bit of salt and pepper and you have perfection!

                            1. re: LilyB

                              Something else occurred to me at the grocery store last night - I don't know if you like zucchini, but a salad of paper thin zucchini ribbons with a little mint and pine nuts would be a nice refreshing and lightly crunchy counterpoint.

                              1. re: LilyB

                                As a variation of green beans, I love this haricot verts with glazed chestnuts, mostly for the chestnuts. You can make parts in advance and the reheat together.


                                The danger in that is that the chestnuts are addicting and I can't stop eating them. It would be really good w/ bacon.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  that sounds terrific. I like green beans for thanksgiving and these sound a cut above.

                                2. re: LilyB

                                  The green veg has to be done on the stove top for our group of 15 to 20 people. I have settled on a zucchini/spinach mix. I buy the large bag of fresh spinach from Costco, blanch it, squeeze out moisture and freeze. Or blanch, squeeze, fluff with fingers and hold in fridge for up to 3 or 4 days. Grate 1 smallish zucchini per person in the Cuisinart, sprinkle with salt, toss to distribute, and let stand 30 or 45 minutes. Squeeze out moisture by handfuls, fluff with fingers, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. In a skillet, saute a goodly amount of chopped shallots. This, too, can be done several days ahead. At serving time, heat up the shallots, add the spinach and zucchini, toss until evenly distributed and hot, and add any seasonings. I also often add some dollops of pesto and a goodly amount of toasted pine nuts. A grating of fresh nutmeg is good, too.

                                3. What about creamed peas with pearl onions? We do lovely English peas and a very light sauce of unsalted butter mixed with creme fraiche. We use frozen peas (high quality brand) and frozen pearl onions, but steam crisp them so they aren't mushy. You can use different herbs in your sauce - we don't like mint, but it would work. We season with s&p, some thyme and tarragon.

                                  1. My experience with relatively light veggies on Thanksgiving is that nobody eats them, even though in a normal meal you'd want them for balance. Last year I made this pretty amazing kale and pancetta and walnuts dish and nobody ate it, and my family is usually pretty veggie-friendly. A salad usually goes over pretty well. If you want other green veggies, maybe a creamed spinach dish? I have one with pickled jalapenos I really like. I was also thinking of going with a spinach and artichoke casserole this year.