Lighten Up, Side Dishes!
What would Thanksgiving be without sweet potato casserole? Who wants meat without the potatoes? Feel free to dig into these significantly lighter casseroles and veggie dishes that will delight your family and dinner guests.
For example, a delicious serving of Brussels Sprouts with Bacon.
Roasting Brussels sprouts really brings out their nutty flavor, which goes so well with smoky bacon and sweet red onions.
If you start with naturally creamy potatoes, like Yukon Golds, you won’t need to add cream and sticks of butter to make delicious mashed potatoes. A gentle fresh chive garnish brightens these rich flavors.
Fennel, Sausage & Caramelized-Apple Stuffing
This sophisticated stuffing truly satisfies. It combines the sweet licorice flavor of fennel, the tang of sourdough bread, the tartness of apple, and the rich spiciness of Italian sausage.
Moms often serve this dish to picky eaters who don’t want to eat their vegetables. It works every time, thanks to the crumbled crackers and creamy cheese traditionally found in this dish. This version is lighter—but your kids will never know the difference.
Corn pudding is a specialty of the rural South. This recipe, which uses 5 cups of kernels, is great when you have a bumper crop of corn. Frozen, thawed kernels can be substituted when corn is out of season.
Enjoy a healthier version of this Chinese takeout favorite at home! To make it a meal, increase the portion size and top with a sunny-side-up egg.
Truffled Mac and Cheese
This Southwestern summer squash mixture is a popular side dish throughout New Mexico and south Texas. Calabacitas means “little squash” in Spanish. Tuck it into tortillas for a vegetarian taco or add pork or chicken to make it a main.
Butternut Squash Agrodolce
Roasted butternut squash is a classic fall dish. A tangy sweet-and-sour vinaigrette made with honey and red wine vinegar and a garnish of vibrant basil and mint gives this well-loved dish a delicous new twist.
This popular Utah comfort food is commonly brought to a post-funeral communal meal. The covered dish, or easy-to-reheat casserole, is a classic for potlucks and other large gatherings.
This is a simple slaw with a lot of attitude. It’s the perfect complement to a pulled-pork sandwich and an ideal side dish to serve at a summer barbecue.
Vermont Baked Beans
In Boston, molasses and salt pork are the traditional additions to a pot of baked beans. The sauce for these baked beans isn’t as thick and sweet as Boston’s rendition, and the flavor of the maple syrup and bacon make it undeniably Vermont.
Baked Louisiana Dirty Rice and Beans
This spicy casserole, an old Cajun favorite, traditionally features chicken livers and gizzards, but we’ve substituted juicy chicken thighs.
Southern Field Peas
The Southerners in the Cooking Light Test Kitchen love this dish. It uses pink-eyed peas, which are a local favorite, but feel free to use black-eyed peas instead.
Sweet Onion Casserole
This is THE way to enjoy sweet onions from Washington, California, or Georgia. Rice and cheese add heft and flavor to this casserole while letting the star veggie shine.
This recipe was inspired by a dish at Nightwood restaurant in Chicago. Roasting carrots brings out their natural sweetness.
Wild Rice Stuffing with Dried Cherries & Toasted Pecans
The nutty, almost smoky flavor of wild rice pairs beautifully with sweet dried cherries. This dish works well with turkey and other poultry.
Collard greens are a favorite in the American South, where the greens are traditionally boiled with ham hock. This modern technique relies instead on a speedy sauté, which cooks ribbons of greens in record time. The quick cooking preserves most of the greens’ nutrients so they aren’t lost to the “pot likker,” the broth left at the bottom of the pot after the greens have been cooked.
Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallow Topping
Based on sweet potato pie, a favorite in the South, this famous Thanksgiving side dish has a rich history. The marshmallows were added by Janet McKenzie Hill, the founder of the Boston Cooking-School Magazine, in 1917, when the marshmallow evolved from a specialty confection into an everyday treat.
Garlic-Parsley Steak "Fries"
These roasted potato wedges, blistered and brown from the heat of the oven, beautifully combine the rich flavors of potato and garlic.
Grilled Sweet Potato Salad
Cooking the sweet potatoes on a grill retains vitamins that would be lost if they were boiled, and gives them a crisp, charred edge that contrasts with the sweet interior. Tossing them with the lemon-olive oil dressing brightens the flavor.
Roasted Cauliflower with Mornay Sauce
Roasting intensifies the delicate flavor of this vegetable, lending it a sweet, nutty flavor and creamy texture. The dry cooking technique far surpasses boiling, which can leave cauliflower soggy, bland, and depleted of nutrients.
Beans & Greens
This recipe takes its cue from Italian-American cooks, who know how to make fresh seasonal ingredients taste wonderful. For a hearty main dish, simply toss with whole-wheat pasta.
Unlike deep-fried onion rings, these are cooked in a shallow pan with a smaller amount of oil. Be sure to check that the underside of each onion is nicely browned before you flip.
Succotash is generally made with lima beans, but edamame add protein to this colorful side. Shelled edamame are now commonly available year-round in the frozen food section of most supermarkets.
Stewed Okra & Tomatoes
Okra is a Southern classic that people tend to love or hate. Here, the acidity of the tomatoes helps thin the vegetable’s viscous juices and preserves its crunchiness. Be sure to pick small pods, as they are more tender.