Everyone knows that turkey is the star on Thanksgiving, but what about those Thanksgiving – On the side dishes? You know, the often forgotten dishes. The ones everyone kinds of puts aside. Or do you just keep eating the same thing every year?
It’s no secret I’m a traditionalist when it comes to my turkey. I want a nice tasty turkey with some crispy skin (which I know is bad for me calorie-wise, but it’s so so good for me mentally wise and it’s not like I do it every day, right?) a nice rich gravy and my standard cornbread stuffing with sausage and apples (I’m going to have to write that recipe down when I make it at Christmas). The rest is kind of up grabs.
My sister-in-law ALWAYS serves mashed potatoes and corn.
Turkey, gravy, stuffing mix, mashed potatoes, corn. Oh, and a canned cranberry sauce.
My mother in law made turkey, stuffing mix, Potato Buds, Canned Yams with Marshmallow topping, and that wonderful, oh, not so lovely, Green Beans with Mushroom Soup and Canned Onion baked bit of atrocity. Aunt Helene always brought her famous (but not necessarily good) creamed onions along with the infamous Ocean Spray Cranberry JELLY. My FIL loved the jelled sauce.
But Gail could make a mean pie. And so she always made at least three, Pumpkin, Pecan, and Apple.
And as time went on, I got those Potato Buds to become real mashed potatoes, and some fresh made cranberry sauce, along with the infamous cranberry jelly. That green bean dish also went bye-bye and was replaced by fresher fare.
My family home had the traditional turkey, along with a cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with brown sugar sans marshmallows, peas and carrots, and brussels sprouts, boiled to within an inch of being total mush and then tossed in apple cider vinegar. Cranberry sauce was one can of both, jellied, and whole.
Pumpkin pie to finish.
But it really is about family right? OK…I want to eat well as well.
So while I’m sure you have your traditional favorites to serve alongside your turkey, I thought I might give you an idea or two of what might be good, on the sidelines.
Soup or Salad?
The first time we served soup as the first course, we got a few raised eyebrows. Since then, it’s always been a welcome addition to the table. And best of all, these soups can be made ahead and then just reheated at dinner time, freeing up your time to enjoy your family and guests (or perhaps the football game or two?).
Creamy and delicious but contains no cream!
Only a little dash of cream in this soup, but oh, so many tasty veggies!
If you prefer a salad, either of these makes a healthy light addition to the meal. The dressing can be made in advance of course, and some components of the salad can also, but you have to put it together at the last minute.
Why not have a little summer fun in the middle of fall? I actually still have a few strawberries on my plants, but if you don’t I’ll let you buy out of season ones for this delish fresh salad.
My husband’s absolute favorite first-course salad. Fresh Herb Dressing lightly flavors the soft butterleaf salad greens and those adorable little baby salad shrimps…what’s not to love?
While this is in no way a first-course salad, it would make a lovely addition to the meal with the dried fruit. It would be especially good as an alternative for stuffing and would make any vegetarian in the house happy happy happy.
Veggies on the side
Roasted veggies are a great taste sensation and go perfectly with the main event, Turkey. And best of all, these can be finished once the bird is out of the oven and resting before being sliced and served. You do know to let the turkey rest right? Of course, you do. But if you didn’t … let the turkey rest at least 20 minutes before you begin carving.
Just um, YUM. And you can buy the butternut squash that is already cubed if you so desire, or cube your own a few days ahead of time and keep in a zip top bag in the refrigerator!
If everything goes better with bacon…these roasted green beans with caramelized onion and prosciutto might just steal the show. Or not, but they will perform well with the stars!
If the oven will not be available for the veggies, then try these delicious stove-top stars.
The trick is in the soak and the perfect preparation. I’ll show you both tricks and your guest will leave the table scratching their heads and saying “I always thought I didn’t like Brussels Sprouts”.
Simple, tried and true.
And finally, if you, like my mother in law, always had a challenge making fresh, perfect, mashed potatoes, then I’ve got the cure for you.
I’ve got the skinny on how to make the best-mashed potatoes. On the skinny, or not.