Friday Recipe Exchange: Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Side Dishes

jeffreyw potatoes-brussels-sprouts-au-gratin

JeffreyW’s Roasted Brussels Sprout and Potato Gratin


From our Food Goddess, TaMara:

This is the time of year when we get a lot of blog visits from people looking for side dishes. And I have a lot of recipes for the traditional holiday sides, desserts and instructions on the various ways to cook your turkey. JeffreyW has a ton of mouthwatering photos. All of that can be found at at this link.

I thought it would be nice though, to focus on some non-traditional sides for tonight’s recipe exchange. In case you were looking for something different to showcase this year.

Soups make a nice starter at for any meal and tonight’s featured recipe is a savory winter soup. I also have a nice Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup, (click here)

JeffreyW favors brussels sprouts and came up with this wonderful recipe, Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin pictured above. (click here)

Roasted Brussels sprouts are pretty easy, and leave it to Emeril Lagasse to “kick it up a notch” with his Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Grilled Onions. (click here)

I’m not big on the whole candied sweet potatoes, so I went looking for alternatives and found three I like, African Sweet Potato Salad, Cajun Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes and Apples, click here for all the recipes. You can also just roast them in the oven, and I found two really good recipes here (honey roasted) and here (thyme roasted).

What are your Thanksgiving plans? Are you doing the cooking or does someone else have the honors? And most importantly, what are your favorite Thanksgiving recipes?

Need to keep everyone out of the kitchen while you finish up dinner prep? Set up a buffet table with a raw vegetable tray and dip, a bowl of nuts (in their shells) along with a couple of nutcrackers and this soup in a slowcooker to keep it warm and that should keep your guests occupied while you cook.

The Thanksgiving featured recipe is one that works great as an appetizer:

Winter Squash Soup

3 tbsp butter
3-1/4 pounds butternut or acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cut into large pieces
1 small onion, quartered
1 carrot, quartered
1 celery stalk, quartered
1 tsp crushed garlic
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup apple cider
1 ½ tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried sage
Salt and pepper to taste


1/2 cup dry sherry
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Chopped chives (for garnish)
Large sauce pan

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the squash, onions, carrot, celery and garlic; sauté until slightly softened, about 15 minutes. Add the chicken broth, apple juice, thyme and sage. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from stove. Puree the vegetables until smooth with a hand blender or in batches in the food processor or blender. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if desired.

***Soup can be made to this point 1 day ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator.***

Return soup to pot and bring to a simmer. Add the sherry and simmer about 2 minutes. Stir in the cream, sour cream and nutmeg until well combined. Place soup into large soup tureen and garnish with chives. Place on appetizer table with small bowls & spoons and let everyone help themselves.

That’s everything this week. There won’t be a recipe exchange next Friday, but next week I’ll be featuring more recipes for the holiday. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.TaMara

40 replies
  1. 1
    Aji says:

    My god, that looks good.

    We don’t celebrate “Thanksgiving” the way most of the country does, no doubt; for us, doing so would feel a little . . . off. We usually have a nice meal, though.

    The Mr. has never really liked turkey, but I’ve introduced him to smoked turkey and he loved it. He decided he wants that next week, so I’ll have an excuse to do stuffing. I usually do cornbread stuffing, with homemade cornbread dried and crumbled, and then mixed with a variety of things: bacon, sausage, or chorizo; pecans or piñon nuts; green onion; a few herbs; dried cranberries; and sometimes wild rice (one of my traditional foods). A friend who lives in the Midwest has access to wild rice and has sent me a bunch, so I think maybe it’s time for that version this year.

  2. 2
    NotMax says:

    If you bake (or microwave) sweet potatoes just like regular baked potatoes, try using pineapple or apricot preserves on them as a wonderful change of pace topping from butter.

  3. 3

    Does anyone have a recipe for a butternut squash cheese cake?

  4. 4
    Aji says:

    @NotMax: Ooooh, that sounds lovely. I picked up a couple of Japanese sweet potatoes (the white ones with the purple skins), which we eat throughout the year anyway. I usually dice them and bake them with olive oil, rosemary, parsley, sea salt, and a dash of pepper, but I might have to try this instead.

  5. 5

    Not a traditional side dish for Thanksgiving but if you have vegetarian guests, they might like it. From earlier this week, Dal with Red Lentils

  6. 6
    Yatsuno says:

    @Aji: The Koreans are masters of side dishes, as a typical meal is expected to have at least three along with the main course. Plus Maangchi rulz. I haven’t made this yet, but it’s in the plans.

  7. 7
    jo6pac says:

    Thank You and commentators

  8. 8
    boss bitch says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Does anyone have a recipe for a butternut squash cheese cake?


  9. 9
  10. 10
    Aji says:

    @Yatsuno: OMG, that sounds good. Might have to try that . . . . If you do make it anytime soon, let me know how it turns out.

  11. 11

    I ordered my first fresh turkey. Years ago I worked with a farmer and got fresh turkeys all the time, definitely prefer them, but I’ve never ordered one. It’s going to be great or a complete disaster. Thanksgiving roulette.

  12. 12

    Huh, I’m in moderation…oh, I used a term for a Las Vegas game, WP did not like it. :-D

  13. 13
    dmsilev says:

    My mom has declared her intent of making latkes as a side dish this year, as a way of combining Thanksgiving and Chanukah. I’m skeptical, just because of the logistics and timing. We’ll see.

  14. 14
    Calming influence says:

    Alright, here’s the question. Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Potato Gratin: food for the Gods, or can mere mortals have a taste?

    My number one favorite food growing up was potatoes au gratin. And although it wasn’t a complete deal-breaker, a taste for brussels sprouts was pretty high on my list of criteria when I was searching for a suitable mate.

    This is going to be on our table next Thursday.

  15. 15

    I’ve already whined about my sister-in-law’s insistence on serving turkey loaf and Potato Buds at Thanksgiving, but now I’m seriously considering making a mini-Thanksgiving for G and myself so I don’t feel cheated. What’s the best way to cook fresh green beans so they stay crunchy? Roasting them didn’t do the trick. Is it really the parcooking/ice water bath/sauté in butter that does the trick?

  16. 16
    Aji says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): Either steamed lightly or a quick sauté. My preference is generally for the latter, with sea salt and cracked black pepper and maybe a few dried herbs.

    And, really: Turkey loaf and potato buds? Why bother? She should just get a Stouffer’s meal and nuke it; it would be more “authentic.”

  17. 17
    Hal says:

    I’m pretty sure I’m just going to make a giant lasagna this year because I have to work a 16 hour shift on Thanksgiving do my co-worker can go black Friday shopping. This is one of those times I hate union/seniority. Though I do have to say I have worked in other places that were union and the rules were different. Okay, so I just hate my current union/rules. Wooh, conservative conversion averted.

  18. 18
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): Steamer bag and microwave.

  19. 19
    Gravenstone says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): Saute or lightly oiled and salted, then grilled would be my suggestion.

  20. 20
    raven says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): Is it really the parcooking/ice water bath/sauté in butter that does the trick?


  21. 21
    gene108 says:

    Non-traditional*: Ven Pongal

    1/4 cup Moong Dal
    to 1 cup rice

    Put moong dal in bottom of vessel, then put rice on top. Add a lot of water (water should be 2/3’s of a finger length above the rice/dal)

    Cook till all water is soaked up.

    Saute cashew nuts, cumin and whole black pepper in a bit of butter (unsalted).

    Add cooked rice / dal mix to spices.


    Add salt and crushed black pepper to taste.

    Other recipes call for adding curry leaves, ginger and maybe some other seasoning, but the above is the core of the dish.

    *For Thanksgiving

  22. 22
    chopper says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone):

    I’d like to know your sister-in-law’s method for cutting hot dogs into cereal. I’m sure it’s divine.

  23. 23
    chopper says:

    bought the turkey today. xgiving is going to be my standard: brined and butterflied turkey roasted over a bed of later-mashed sweet potatoes, onions etc, a panade (made tall and sliced like cake) with pumpkin, kale and fontina, some kind of fall soup, salad from the garden (still have tomatos on the plants!), pumpkin pie and one other bonus pie.

    and gin. lots of gin.

  24. 24
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): Re: green beans — the mister sautés them in olive oil and butter with minced garlic, salt and pepper, then grates a little fresh parm on them to finish. They’re very good that way, and it’s super-quick.

  25. 25
    cleek says:

    slow-cooked sauerkraut & pork !

    that’s my non-/traditional side.

    make it the day before and eat it while cooking.

  26. 26

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): If I were closer I’d invite you for Thanksgiving.

    @efgoldman: This is the way I would go.

  27. 27
    ruemara says:

    i’ve been invited out for both luncheon and dinner, so there goes that usual thing. I can’t go without making something, so I’m thinking of making beer cheddar mustard biscuits and acorn squash white chocolate chip cookies. I’m house/cat sitting so I think making a little something for my boss before she comes back on Thanksgiving is in order too. Maybe some roasted leeks and rice? I dunno.

  28. 28
    Erin says:

    Instead of a traditional stuffing or dressing, this year I’m serving “Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good”….

    Basically – you clean the seeds and stringy bits out of a pumpkin, and stuff it with a mixture of bread cubes, crumbled bacon or sausage, cheese, herbs and spices, and then pour heavy cream on top. Put the top of the pumpkin back on, and bake for 2 hours…. and then yum! You can serve it in wedges, or serve it straight from the pumpkin with a serving spoon, being sure to get both the roasted pumpkin and the filling.

    It is tasty and unique (and how wrong can you go with bacon, cheese and cream, right?)

    I heard about this recipe a few years back – it was on NPR:

  29. 29
    Bonnie says:

    I love mincemeat pie for Thanksgiving; but, it is hard to find. Since I don’t cook, I just dream about mincemeat pie. However, this year I bought some mincemeat; and, I plan to have it without the pie crust. Wish I had thought of this sooner. Haven’t had mincemeat pie since my Mom died in 2000.

  30. 30
    NotMax says:


    Mincemeat pies often show up in the frozen pastry section of markets here around holiday time.

  31. 31
    max says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): What’s the best way to cook fresh green beans so they stay crunchy? Roasting them didn’t do the trick.

    For a veggie to be crunchy from roasting, you’ve got to roast it so long that it cooks throughly on the inside and the outside dries out and starts hardening. That’s a workable thing with potatoes or something, but not green beans.

    Is it really the parcooking/ice water bath/sauté in butter that does the trick?

    There are a couple of different ways to do things. One way is the way Julia Child would do it, which would be to get very fresh green beans, trim the ends and any brown bits, and then ‘french cut’ them (cut one green bean into several pieces using 45 degree cuts). You try to keep the cut parts all the same size so they cook in the same amount of time, and then you can parboil them. Or steam them.

    You just pull them out when they’re still bright green (because they continue cooking for some minutes). If you don’t pull them out soon enough they’ll be soggy. If you let them sit, they’ll be soggy. The parboil (or steam!) and cold water tricks cooks them *most* but not all of the way and then halts the cooking with the cold water, which means you can them put them in the fridge overnight (or for however long), and finish cooking them with a quick saute when you need them at the end.

    So what you would do is, a day or two beforehand, cut and clean them however you want (french cut is nice but not mandatory – they do need to be of similar size, easily eaten), steam them say, until they are half-cooked, and then the cold water bath and a drain and into the fridge. On cooking day, and hour or two before meal time, you put them out on the counter to warm up to room temperature. Then, at then end, you heat up some oil/butter in a wide saute pan, and throw them in. (If you were using fresh garlic, say, you would cook that in the oil/butter until soft first.) Add a smidgen of water, let it start to boil and cover it, to finish steaming.

    What you don’t wanna do is cut them up beforehand and not cook them and then leave them in the fridge overnight. They’ll turn all brown and grotty around the uncooked cut bits.

    [‘I’ve had that experience.’]

  32. 32
    Bonnie says:

    @NotMax: Thanks, I will look for them there.

  33. 33
    MomSense says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone):

    I like to saute green beans with garlic and salt and olive oil.

  34. 34
    MomSense says:

    I do a traditional Thanksgiving–turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, butternut squash puree with maple syrup and walnuts, corn bread stuffing, roasted chestnuts, homemade cranberry orange sauce, roasted brussel sprouts with shallots and bacon, salad, warm apple sauce, homemade bread, pumpkin, apple and pecan pies for dessert. This year I’m also going to serve pumpkin soup in the pumpkin with mushrooms. I have a beautiful cinderella pumpkin I’m saving.

    I can’t wait to get cooking!!

  35. 35
    Violet says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): For me, I boil them, but only until they are barely just past raw. Maybe a minute in the boiling water. Then drain and toss with butter. If you need to take them somewhere, do it just before you leave, put them in a covered dish, and they’ll still be crunchy when you serve them, even if it’s an hour later or so.

  36. 36
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    I’m making sweet potato latkes and brown sugar-pecan rugelach to bring to Thanksgivukkah dinner.

  37. 37
    Yatsuno says:

    @Comrade Colette Collaboratrice:

    brown sugar-pecan rugelach


  38. 38
    debbie says:

    Collards with bacon and apple cider vinegar’s a pretty good side too:

  39. 39
    cleek says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone):

    What’s the best way to cook fresh green beans so they stay crunchy? Roasting them didn’t do the trick.

    1. blanch in boiling water till almost done.
    2. throw them into ice water.
    3. hold them there until needed.
    4. throw into boiling water and reheat before serving.

    perfectly crunchy every time.

  40. 40

    Brussel sprouts and pancetta was the dish that sealed the deal between me and my girl.

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