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.
Warm Spiced (and Spiked) Cabernet
Warm guests up with this sweet spiced wine punch. Whole cloves, orange slices, cinnamon sticks, and orange juice infuse the wine with citrusy flavor with a hint of spice, while two bottles of cabernet sauvignon and brandy make it especially boozy. Press cloves into the peel of quartered orange. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat (do not boil). Reduce heat to low, and cook 30 minutes. Garnish this punch with a cinnamon stick or orange slices. See our Apple Cider Recipes for more boozy winter drinks.
Cauliflower "Caviar" with Frizzled Prosciutto
Before the turkey, lose the fork and knife for these healthy handheld bites with only 4.8g of carbs, 205mg sodium, and 3g of fat. Smoky prosciutto and cauliflower fill bitter endive leaves in this light appetizer that serves 12. An enticing mix of flavors and a colorful presentation makes for a perfect starter fit for any meal or occasion. For a low-carb swap for traditional mashed potatoes, see our Roasted Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes.
Brown Sugar-Spiced Nut Mix
This recipe comes from the kitchen of Cooking Light Senior Food Editor Cheryl Slocum who said a bowl of nuts in their shells was a coffee table staple for Thanksgiving snacks when she was young. "Operating the nutcracker was a real draw for us little kids," she says, "but our tastes have evolved to this sweet-hot crispy mix." Achieve a bronzelike patina on these candied nuts by keeping a close watch near the end of their roasting time. Too long and they'll overdarken and take on a bitter flavor.
Guests will adore this autumn-inspired recipe, stuffed with diced butternut squash and flecks of crispy bacon. We keep it dairy-free by swapping butter for olive oil and throwing in a few bacon slices for added flavor. Two eggs help the dish hold together and unsalted chicken stock keeps the stuffing moist and sodium content low. Packed full of sourdough bread, fresh butternut squash, and chopped onion, this dish will convince you to make it a seasonal staple.
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.
Orange-Tarragon Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables
You'll wow friends and family with this simple side that will be a guaranteed hit. A vibrant citrus dressing brightens fresh-cut vegetables for a Thanksgiving side you'll come back to again and again. Combine 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice, 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine butternut squash, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes from master recipe, then follow remaining steps.
Roasted Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes
These potatoes are perfect for a holiday meal: quick and convenient, but still plenty dressy. The beauty of these potatoes is in their simplicity. All this dish requires is a 6-ingredient blend of fresh rosemary, olive oil, salt, pepper, shallots, and fresh chives to achieve tender roasted potatoes in less than an hour.They cook in about the same time it takes for a large roast to rest before carving. Bake the potatoes in their jackets so the outsides get nice and browned while the buttery interiors gently cook through.
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.
Fennel, Sausage, and Caramelized Apple Stuffing
Go traditional with a twist: Sourdough bread, sausage, and apple is a classic combo, but our bread stuffing also has licorice notes from fresh fennel. Sautéing the onion, fennel, carrot, and caramelizing the apples bring out their natural sweetness, which pairs well with the herby notes in the Italian sausage. Fresh sliced fennel and crushed fennel seeds add just enough flavor without overpowering. Be sure to select fat-free, lower sodium chicken broth to keep sodium in check.
Chickpea Cookie Dough
Who doesn't love scraping cookie dough out of the bowl? Dairy-free, egg-free, and no-bake, this recipe can be enjoyed straight from the mixing bowl or frozen into cookie dough balls or bars. Even better, using blended chickpeas mixed with almond butter and sweetened with honey, vanilla, cinnamon, and dark chocolate chips keeps calories, fat, sodium, and sugar low while boosting protein and fiber. For an extra indulgent treat, drizzle them with melted chocolate and sprinkle flaked sea salt on top.
Homemade candied apples are a delightfully simple and sweet treat. Plus, making them at home allows you to customize the sweetness and add any toppings that you want to tack on for added crunch. Take the kids apple picking, and let them use the fresh apples they've collected in this seasonal snack that they're sure to love. When we prepared these Candied Apples in our Test Kitchens, we were won over by their simple charm. In particular, we liked the way the cinnamon candy coating complemented the sweetness and cool crunch of the fruit in a classic flavor match. Our recipe uses cinnamon candies instead of the cinnamon and red food coloring used in other versions. See our Apple Desserts for more sweet flavor from fall's favorite fruit.