It’s November and you know what that means…Turkey Day will be here before we know it! Most families have their own turkey cooking traditions…roasted, brined, smoked, deep-fried, among others. The turkey can be – and usually is – absolutely delicious, but have you ever noticed it’s the side dishes that are often the most talked about?!
Most of us have probably grown up with Thanksgiving family traditions like mashed potatoes and gravy, French fried onion green bean casserole, brown sugar-glazed sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and Grandma’s chocolate cream pie. Of course, there is nothing wrong with these traditions, but Thanksgiving is the perfect time to re-invent some of these traditional dishes and give them new life!
The best and most memorable dishes we have had in the past few years used fresh, in-season produce. For example, last year, our holiday dinner included some new ideas…
- Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash (my brother snagged all the leftovers on this one!): https://eatrealamerica.com/recipes/wild-rice-stuffed-acorn-squash/
- Kale Waldorf Salad (with a creamy dressing courtesy of the apples): https://eatrealamerica.com/recipes/kale-waldorf-salad/
- Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Onion (this one actually turned around a couple of Brussels sprout haters in our family): https://eatrealamerica.com/recipes/balsamic-glazed-brussels-sprouts-bacon-onion/
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries, Pecans and Goat Cheese (a fantastic savory twist on sweet potatoes). Share with your friends -- you can find this recipe in our Get REAL Wichita "Free Recipes" at https://eatrealamerica.com/recipes/sweet-potatoes-pecans-goat-cheese/.
When we told our family members our plan to make these sides instead of some of the traditional sides, you should have seen the looks — needless to say, they were skeptical! (They had some serious doubts about sweet potatoes that didn’t include brown sugar and marshmallows)! We encouraged them to be open-minded and, by the end of the meal, the consensus was “Those dishes tasted amazing…it was nice to change things up!” Whew...we were relieved!
So, as you are planning your Thanksgiving meal, we encourage you to consider adding some new ideas this year! Side dishes using quality, seasonal ingredients can easily steal the show at the Thanksgiving table. Consider Fall-inspired ideas such as Pomegranate Pear Salad with Blue Cheese and Walnuts, Maple-Ginger Roasted Vegetables, or Roasted Beet and Apple Salad. There’s a wide variety of seasonal fruits and veggies to include in your side dishes: acorn squash, apples, beets, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cauliflower, cranberries, kale, parsnips, pears, pomegranates, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes. And, of course, we will be providing some new ideas for Eat REAL America members in the weekly meal ideas for the week of November 24! Mix it up and incorporate something new among your traditional sides — you just might find a new favorite Thanksgiving staple!
You can enjoy Thanksgiving vegetarian-style. If you are vegetarian, or will have a vegetarian guest at your holiday dinner this year, there are many fantastic options for both the main course and side dishes. The beauty of vegetarian meals is it’s a great opportunity to get creative.
Thanksgiving is our family’s favorite day of the year! It’s the one day we can escape the daily chaos and simply enjoy time with family, great food and, of course, some good wine! When November rolls around, we look forward to the delicious ideas we can find for our Thanksgiving meal…after all, we have to come up with something to top last year!