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Read: Food Writing

Side dishes deliver as accompaniments to Thanksgiving meal or as feasts themselves

Pallas Erdrich

Beyond the turkey, these dishes deliver a delicious meal when paired with each other or served as accompaniments. 

Mette Neilsen

Mette Neilsen

These Thanksgiving sides are feasts themselves.


When planning the Thanksgiving menu, I’m not going to mess with our family’s beloved dishes — my mother-in-law’s creamy mashed potatoes, my grandmother’s chestnut stuffing, my mom’s fresh cranberry-orange relish.

But I can’t resist the urge to try a few new side dishes to add color, texture and bold flavors to the table. After 37 years of hosting the feast, I look for fresh and simple, bright, boldly seasoned recipes that emphasize our vegetables’ natural goodness. Their flavors should complement the other foods on the table, and the dishes themselves must hold up after they’re made so that they’re good served warm or at room temperature. I don’t want any last-minute fuss.

Thanksgiving presents two specific challenges for any cook:

1. Getting people to come to the table when they’ve been enjoying chatting and catching up. Who wants to interrupt a great conversation? Some years at my home, dinner has been served an hour or so later than planned.

2. Dealing with dietary preferences. Every year, the menu expands to accommodate suggestions for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and lactose-free dishes, adding more reason to try something new.

The four recipes we have here meet all those criteria. As side dishes, they’re fine accompaniments to traditional turkey; together they add up to a satisfying meal when served side by side by side by side.

Inspired by the late autumn crops — the last fresh vegetables to come out of our fields — these dishes showcase a bountiful harvest. The recent cold snap has helped to sweeten the cold hardy cabbage and Brussels sprouts, sparked the sugars in those sweet potatoes, and cured the squash so that its flesh is just dry enough to roast up especially well.

Dishing up Thanksgiving sides that are deliciously simple makes it easy for cooks to give thanks.


Originally Published by The Star Tribune