Grapefruit, Endive, and Arugula Salad
Give yourself the gift of one worry-free dish this holiday season. This 15-minute, no-cook, citrus-flecked salad tastes best when it sits at least 10 minutes. No guest will be able to resist our lemony homemade vinaigrette, which adds sweet flavor without lots of fat, calories, or carbs. Tossing the endive leaves in the vinaigrette first softens their bitter edge. You could also sub thinly sliced fennel or chopped Romaine hearts. Top with chopped walnuts, Gorgonzola cheese, and grapefruit slices.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Look for long, thin sweet potatoes; they make better oven fries than shorter, more squat ones.
Roasted Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables
Opt for simply roasted veggies in place of rich and creamy casseroles and loaded potato dishes brimming with fat and calories. This mix of colorful root vegetables may be your star side. Peeled, prechopped butternut squash saves time, but pieces tend to be irregular and small—we prefer peeling and cubing it yourself. A simple mixture of olive oil, whole-grain mustard, apple cider vinegar, thyme, salt, and pepper dresses these vegetables up for the occasion.
Roasted Broccoli with Pistachios and Pickled Golden Raisins
This dish came to us from kitchen of longtime Cooking Light friend Rich Landau. Landau, chef and owner of Vedge in Philadelphia, offered us this lovely autumn salad, in which bright bursts of sweet-tart raisins accompany each bite of toasted broccoli. Some version of broccoli, usually laden with cream and cheese, lands on many a Thanksgiving table. But this dairy-free dish, with its beautifully balanced flavors, is much lighter—and vegan.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Pomegranate and Pine Nuts
This staff favorite adds color and texture to your buffet and makes a splash on the Thanksgiving table. For a bit of showmanship, bring the whole cauliflower to the table, and then "carve" and dress with the vinaigrette, pomegranate arils, pine nuts, and parsley. While most holiday dishes are designed to be delicious warm or at room temperature, this is one dish that's worth saving until the end of your prep and serving straight out of the oven.
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Garlic, and Shallots
When did the lowly sprout become a side dish superstar? This was a happy turn of events: It's a flavor-packed veggie that is both meaty and pleasingly bitter when sautéed or roasted, perfect for pairing with smoky bacon. Garlic, bacon, shallots, and just over 15 minutes are all you need to create this easy, 5-ingredient side dish with intense flavor. To trim Brussels sprouts, simply cut off the stem end and halve. If they're large, you can quarter them, just making sure the Brussels sprouts are cut into uniform pieces so that they'll cook evenly. If you don't want to discard the leftover bacon drippings, carefully transfer to a heatproof container, cool, and store in the fridge. You can use it as a replacement for any other cooking oil or fat.
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
Chef Jonathan Waxman taught Cooking Light Editor Hunter Lewis how to make this fall salad many years ago. Riff with the ingredients to find the flavor balance you prefer. With a zing of fresh citrus to cut through the acidity, this crunchy winter salad is the perfect light addition to your holiday spread.
For a vegan version, omit the parmesan.
Braised Leeks with Parmesan
Wash leeks after they’re halved by dunking them in a bowl of cold water and vigorously swishing to dislodge dirt and grit trapped between the layers. You may need to repeat the process once or twice, depending on the level of grit. We love the simplicity of this dish. White wine provides a little tangy acid to the leeks, while Parmesan cheese packs an umami whallop, making for a supremely satisfying side.
Beet, Farro, and Watercress Salad with Fig Vinaigrette
Chock-full of naturally delicious ingredients like sweet, tender beets, crisp zucchini, chewy-tender farro, and crunchy almonds, this salad will quickly become your new go-to lunch this season. You can make it up to two days ahead; just leave out the watercress until shortly before serving.
Black Pepper and Herb Mashed Potatoes
Buttermilk adds an extra layer of creaminess to these herb-infused potatoes flecked with parsley, tarragon, and chives.
Braised Artichokes, Favas, and Carrots in Creamy Lemon Sauce with Fennel
We love the artichokes in this dish—they add their unique flavor and somehow make everything taste just a little sweeter. The olive oil emulsifies with the braising liquid to create a silky sauce that deliciously coats the bright spring veggies. Thin lemon slices, charred and caramelized in a cast-iron pan, make a nice garnish.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Pomegranate and Tahini
Pomegranate seeds and tahini paste deliver delightful Mediterranean flavors in this quick winter side. Bonus: each serving, about a half cup only contains 152 calories.
Sautéed Mushrooms with Garlic
After just one bite, it's easy to get hooked on this flavorful, 5-ingredient, hummus topper. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with toasty baked pita chips, if desired. Simple, yet impressive, soon you'll be topping mashed potatoes and steaks with this versatile mushroom side too.
Spicy Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Garlic
Bring some bold Italian flavor to your holiday table with this quick and easy side. The recipe, which serves six, doubles easily if serving a larger crowd. Red onion, garlic, and crushed red flavor complement the slightly bitter flavor of nutrient-rich broccoli rabe. Packed with dietary fiber, broccoli rabe packs your Thanksgiving plate full of vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, iron, and calcium. Ready in just 25 minutes, this speedy stovetop dish gets on the table fast and frees up the oven on the day that you need it most.
Roasted Parsnips with Lemon and Herbs
If you’re not familiar with parsnips, try these quick recipes to acquaint yourself with them. The root veggies look like white carrots and have a decidedly sweet, earthy flavor. Shop for medium to small parsnips, as larger ones tend to have tough, woody cores. In the main recipe here, a hit of fresh lemon juice and sprinkling of fresh herbs make the whole dish taste fresh and bright. If you don’t have parsley on hand, you can leave it out, but do seek out the dill.
Mushroom-Potato Salad with Miso "Mayo"
White miso is the umami-bomb base of the dressing that will have you licking the bowl. It's potato salad like you've never had before, guaranteed to steal the show at your next barbecue.
Applesauce is a classic accompaniment to latkes. With pears in the mix, it's out of this world. Pulse cooled applesauce in a food processor for a smoother texture, if you like.
Mashed Sweet Potato
One cup of cooked, mashed sweet potato has almost 7 grams of fiber, which makes it a sweet and healthy side dish to fill up on.
Honey-Roasted Butternut Squash
This side is simple and fabulous. The cooking is mostly hands-off, and the prep is easy. Serve the tender butternut squash in large pieces to catch every last bit of the honey-butter drizzle.
Braised Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic and Grapes
Braising is a simple technique that locks moisture and flavor into ingredients. Here, sweet grapes downplay pungent Brussels sprouts, and simmering these two ingredients together intensifies their unexpectedly satisfying flavor combination. For vegetarian or vegan diets, substitute olive oil for butter and water for chicken stock.
Buttermilk Butternut Soup with Toasted Pumpkinseeds
A warming winter favorite, traditional butternut squash soup is elevated by a swirl of buttermilk and a sprinkling of pumpkinseeds.
Sweet Potato Tots
Take a break from sweet potato fries and try out tots instead. Oven-baked until they're brown and crispy, these tots will satisfy your wildest savory cravings without overloading you with calories and fat. Served with a zippy jalapeño ranch dipping sauce that's loaded with protein and fresh herbs, these cute sweet potato tots make for the perfect appetizer or mid-afternoon snack that your kids will devour.
Kale Salad with Grilled Artichokes
Let those fresh artichokes simmer with lemon, wine, and herbs, then use them to top this supremely satisfying salad. Kale offers earthy flavor and chewy texture; pine nuts add crunch; plumped raisins balance the zingy Dijon-spiked dressing.