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Nov 22, 2013 04:58 PM

Your best thanksgiving greens

I've been going to a thanksgiving potluck for the last 5 years and every year I've been assigned "greens" as my dish- I've done creamed spinach (some random recipe I found online, was meh), kale casseroles, mustard greens (host is a vegetarian so I didn't use pork out of respect even though she cooks a turkey...epic fail) and a number of other green dishes and have always had subpar results. I don't generally make "greens" in any way other than quickly sauteed OR with a ton of pork-products, so I don't have much practice aside from these thanksgivings.
And now the time is upon us again. Whats your fave greens recipe? I'm thinking of trying creamed spinach again but the last two times I've done it, it's really been pretty lame. As previously stated, one half of the hosting couple is vegetarian and she always makes a turkey and meaty-seafoody sides, but I try to keep the greens dish veggie-friendly since she has less to eat and, well, is an awesome person/vegetarian for hosting us every year. I try to stick to something that can be easily reheated either in a crockpor (brought to their place) or in the oven quickly, versus something done quickly last-minute on the stove as the kitchen is always full and busy right before dinner.

Any ideas?! 5 years in and I'm feeling defeated, but ready to elevate the game! This is my first thanksgiving as a married woman with my (as of oct) husband, and he's bringing his famous mushroom mac n cheese, so I MUST deliver! Hounds, help a lady out!

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  1. Also worth noting- there will be aprox 15 people this year, but cooking fresh greens for 15 people would mean enough chard to fill a bathtub, so I usually cook for about 10 and am absolutely open to using frozen greens

    5 Replies
    1. re: CarmenR

      Must it be leafy greens? How about a kale salad with dried cranberries and pine nuts? You need much less kale if raw.lacinato is best for this and people love it.
      I would also consider shredded Brussels sprouts either as a salad or sautéed in butter or olive oil.

      1. re: magiesmom

        the salad is already covered- I've basically backed myself into a cooked-leafy-green corner ;) My fault, I volunteer for it, but I want to find something really GOOD...

        1. re: CarmenR

          Then make creamed spinach. Pioneer woman has a classic one based on a roux, or there are decadent easy ones made with cream cheese.
          I make mine with coconut milk and jalapeño.
          There is a Mark Bittman NY Times article with several different interesting cooked spinach preps.

          1. re: magiesmom

            Pam Anderson's "easy" creamed spinach is very good and couldn't be easier. I wouldn't count on 8 servings as her recipe says. I made a half recipe the first time I made it and the two of us finished it off.

          2. re: CarmenR

            Creamed spinach loans itself to all sorts of flavors/add-ins. Red pepper flakes, sautéed mushrooms, parmesan, crispy onion many ideas!

      2. I have never actually made this but I have always had good luck with Barefoot Contessa recipes. This is a spinach gratin with butter, cream and cheese...definitely not low cal!

        1 Reply
        1. re: valerie

          I was going to suggest this recipe. My sister and law and I pulled this one off for several years while we were having a glass of wine or two in the kitchen and the menfolk were doing their thing in the living room. It's foolproof and delicious.

        2. Don't know if you count green beans as "greens" but yrs ago I started ad libing with the traditional green bean recipe. My kids have all adopted it for their family holiday meals (They all live out of state and used to not write it down and call me every yr for instructions.) It's also what everyone expects me to bring to any pot luck. It's very easy to adapt for different dietery requirements. We also have vegetarians in the family and one who's alergic to nuts, so I usually make more than one version. l start with the traditional green bean/mushroom soup base. I like kitchen cut gr beans-approx 2 or three cans to 1 can of soup. I like to tase the green beans so I use 3 to 1, but some people like it soupier. I prefer to simmer the green beans with a little bacon for those who don't object. I saute approx 1/2 C chopped onions and a clove of garlic to add to the mixture, and add a small can of sliced mushrooms, drained, or saute fresh ones with the onion. For the topping, which is what makes it different and what my family raves over, I start with approx 8 oz of shredded cheddar-I like the sharp. The amount depends on the size of the container. I cover it completely. I fry a pkg of bacon ahead of time, crisp. I usually do that, shred the cheese, and toast the almonds, (approx a 6 oz pkg, slivered or sliced) ahead of time. The bacon is crisper if it cools awhille. Crumble the bacon and add it and the toasted almonds on top of the cheese. Then heat in a 325 degree oven approx 25-30 min till heated through and cheese is melted, which can be right before serving. Caution: I used to prepare ahead of time and keep in the frig overnight. You can prepare all the toppings and the onions, etc ahead of time but if you combine the green beans and soup ahead of time and refrigerate overnight it gets runny after you heat it. Another version is to add sliced water chestnuts to the soup and green bean mixture, but they have to be well drained or they will also make it runny. They do give it a crunchy taste that some people love. I apologize for how vague the proportions are but, what can I say, I come from a German grandmother and mother that never make anything the same way twice. Other than the green beans & soup it depends on how many servings, the size of the container, and what you like. Most people in my family love cheese and bacon & nuts, so the more the better. They think it beats canned onions by a long shot.

          1. One of my favorite simple ways to do greens might make a good vegetarian side. Cut the greens (usually kale) in ribbons, and rinse but don't dry. Slice up some onion (long strips, not diced) and chop plenty of garlic, sauté them in olive oil in a big skillet until soft. Then add the greens, salt to taste, cover, and cook down until nicely wilted and tender (may need to add in batches if there's a lot), remove from heat and squeeze lemon juice over. They cook down pretty quickly, maybe 15 minutes.

            I like adding chickpeas for a vegetarian meal (that's what the original recipe I got this technique from did) but the greens are great on their own.

            You can also do the same thing, using swiss chard and leaving out the lemon juice, add some raisins at the same as the greens, and add toasted pine nuts at the end.

            1. Are you specifically looking for a cooked MUSHY green leafy veg recipe?

              Maybe a base of kale, chard, or spinach cooked down with a splash of cream, onions, garlic, then layered in a baking dish with a topping of sharp cheese and breadcrumbs?

              I would go with stewed green beans, sautéed green beans, roasted broccoli, or shredded Brussels sprouts if you're allowed to use other cooked green veg instead of leafy ones.