From stuffing to mashed potatoes, holiday accompaniments are just as important as the main dish. By: Jason Horn and Cooking Light staff
Side dishes shine during the holiday season, so don't settle for sub-par accompaniments. From bright, flavorful veggies to creamy mashed potatoes, we've got everything you need to make a great plate.
First up is this nontraditional stuffing, in which earthy flavors and starchy comfort come from whole-grain farro, not bread. You can assemble up to 2 days ahead. Take out of the fridge, let stand at room temperature 45 minutes, then bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
View Recipe: Farro Stuffing with Butternut Squash, Red Onion, and Almonds
Chestnuts bring rich, nutty flavor without adding much fat or many calories, as would pecans or walnuts. You can find whole roasted chestnuts in the baking aisle.
A fresh, crisp salad balances the lineup of heavier, rich side dishes. You can follow a recipe or just compose one with pretty cuts of your favorite vegetables and herbs tossed with a light vinaigrette. Make this salad a day ahead if you want the flavors to absorb into the cauliflower a little more. Just hold off on adding the cheese until right before serving.
Every plate needs a little green on it. Blanch the beans ahead, and store in the refrigerator to eliminate a task from the Thanksgiving Day prep list.
This is the quintessential Thanksgiving side dish in the South. It is made from crumbled corn bread, with no added French or sourdough bread to cut it, so the texture is unique. Loads of aromatics give this dressing its flavor; don't be tempted to use less.
Simply put, apples and fennel are right together—the flavors are so complementary. We love the way the paper-thin slices intertwine and then get interrupted by bright hits of parsley. Canola oil may seem like an odd choice, but we wanted to keep the flavors clean and straightforward; you can always use olive oil if you'd like the vinaigrette to assert itself.
The original recipe is made with two sticks of butter, but we lightened it by saving most of the butter for the crispy top. Look for stuffing mixes free of additives, unhealthy fats, and sugar, such as Arrowhead Mills, Trader Joe's, or Whole Foods 365.
Some version of broccoli, usually laden with cream and cheese, lands on many a Thanksgiving table. But this dish, with its beautifully balanced flavors, is much lighter—and vegan.
To keep potatoes warm until the meal is ready, place them, loosely covered, in a heatproof dish or bowl, and set them (without submerging them) in a larger pot of hot water over very low heat. They'll stay warm without scorching on the bottom.
Long, slender ribbons of butternut squash make for a beautiful and unusual presentation; just be gentle when stirring so you don't break all those gorgeous pieces. Try to grab a squash with a long neck—that straight surface works best for ribboning. If you can't find sorghum, you can use farro.
This CL–perfected stovetop technique makes smoking food easier than ever (though the salad is still tasty if you choose not to smoke the grains), and smoke is such a fun flavor to apply to unexpected ingredients like barley. A sweet vinaigrette, earthy beets, and the intense citrus twang of grapefruit balance the robust smoky hit of the grains for a memorable salad. To make sure you're getting the whole-grain version of barley, look for hulled, and skip past pearled.
Something rather lovely happens when you soak the chewier whole grains (such as rye or wheat berries) in a pickling brine; the tangy notes make the chew that much more enjoyable.
Maximum surface area means more crunchy bits in this rösti, essentially a large potato pancake, perfect for the hash brown lovers in your family. If making ahead, cool on a wire rack, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Reheat in an ovenproof skillet at 350° for 10 minutes or until recrisped.
View Recipe: Leek and Pancetta Potato Rösti
Beat the last-minute cooking frenzy by making the glazed pecans up to 3 days in advance and storing at room temperature in an airtight container; double the ingredients for an appetizer guests can munch on before the meal.
View Recipe: Sautéed Green Beans with Spice-Glazed Pecans
Turn up the volume on classic glazed carrots with exotic cardamom and fragrant fresh ginger. If you can find multicolored carrots, use them for a lovely presentation, as we did in the photo. The parchment paper lid slows moisture loss just enough to form a beautiful glaze.
View Recipe: Cardamom-Glazed Carrots
You can respond to cries of "It's not Thanksgiving without mashed spuds!" by taking this classic to the next level: Think garlic-infused olive oil and sweet caramelized onions.
View Recipe: Caramelized Onion and Garlic Mashed Potatoes
This twist on a classic sausage and sourdough stuffing uses smoky Portuguese linguiça in place of crumbled pork sausage. Kielbasa or any smoked sausage would also work.
View Recipe: Linguiça Sausage Stuffing with Mushrooms
These potatoes deliver the best of both worlds: creamy, starchy center and crisp, golden edges. To smash, place the back of a wide spatula over each potato, and then press with the heel of your hand.
View Recipe: Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Chive Sour Cream
The muffin cups give you crispy edges and a tender interior in half the time, though the stuffing won't hold its shape like a traditional muffin. Presliced bread and prechopped onion and celery save time.
View Recipe: Apple-Sage Stuffing Cups
View Recipe: Sourdough Stuffing with Pears and Sausage