New recipes for Thanksgiving dinner: it’s all about the sides
Start a new tradition by accompanying your turkey with something different.
Many of us dream of serving a perfectly bronzed Thanksgiving turkey, looking just like the one artist and illustrator Norman Rockwell painted in Freedom from Want, his endearing painting of a family gathered at the holiday table.
And while the turkey is the iconic centerpiece in the painting and the object of everyone’s admiration as it is laid before them, dare I venture to say that today’s holiday table focuses a lot more attention on the sides? Surely the staple sweet-potato casserole with marshmallow topping is here to stay as tradition dictates as well as the green bean casserole amandine and jellied, canned cranberry sauce. But since Thanksgiving is about celebrating bounty, gratefulness and family, why not add some new sides to your standard offerings? If you are having a crowd, think of balancing your menu with five or six sides. That way, there will be enough for guests to choose from. Include a couple of familiar casserole-type dishes that many people like and can be made ahead—like the mac and cheese with a twist recipe on the facing page. Have some colorful and in-season vegetables, such as a layered vegetable casserole, which itself makes a statement about the harvest. Think about vegetables with different textures, too—such as Brussels sprouts, one of those gorgeous fall and winter vegetables that often needs coaxing for some people to appreciate. Brussels sprouts are simply delicious when roasted or combined with leeks in an easy-to-make cream sauce.
Thanksgiving without squash?
Unthinkable. And today we have so many varieties to choose from, including acorn, butternut, turban, delicata and spaghetti squash, which is fun to make and intrigues children while getting them to eat their vegetables in a clever way.
Sides can often be meals in themselves, and the best part is that many of them can be prepared ahead of time, refrigerated and reheated, leaving the cook to focus all attention on roasting that bird just right.
While tradition may call for a perfectly roasted Rockwell-ish turkey on the Thanksgiving table, the sides can be the start of something new and enduring for future holiday gatherings.