White Balsamic and Rosemary Cranberry Sauce
If you’re looking for a way to amp up your traditional sauce, this is it. Fresh rosemary gives the sauce a light herbal flavor (the berries are robust enough to stand up to the piny herb). White balsamic vinegar balances the sweet and adds a dimension of fruity tang to the tart cranberries. If you don’t have white balsamic, use white wine vinegar or cider vinegar—regular balsamic is a bit too strong and would darken the finished sauce. Beyond your holiday plate (and inevitable holiday leftovers), add to a cheese plate or sandwich buffet. Omit the orange liqueur from the master recipe. Simmer cranberries with rosemary sprigs, sugar, water, and cranberries. Stir in balsamic vinegar.
For a holiday side with earthy, savory depth, add a trio of mushrooms: creminis, meaty shiitakes, and mild white button mushrooms. A splash of sherry vinegar picks up the browned bits in the pan and rounds out the flavors beautifully. The mushrooms will release plenty of liquid after a couple of minutes in the pan; be patient and let these juices evaporate so your stuffing will be rich, not soggy.
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
Keep mashed potatoes warm by placing in a heatproof bowl, covering with plastic wrap, and setting over a saucepan of gently simmering water. This will keep them moist and warm without scorching. A ricer finely breaks up the cooked potatoes without activating the potato starches, which could make the consistency gluey. It also allows the butter and liquid, such as milk or buttermilk, to quickly incorporate so the mash is smooth and free of lumps. If you don't have a ricer, use a potato masher, being careful not to overwork the potatoes. Our Butternut-Swirled Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Mashed Potatoes variations require a little extra time but are well worth the effort.
Skillet Green Bean Casserole
We've shortened (and lightened) this holiday classic by bringing everything together in one pan and using the stovetop and broiler rather than baking.
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.
Sweet Potato Casserole with Crunchy Oat Topping
This classic casserole often straddles the line between side and dessert (indeed, we've enjoyed the leftovers both ways). We dial down the sugar to steer the dish back to savory territory, and add a crunchy oat and nut topper for texture. A final drizzle of maple syrup just before serving gives the casserole a lovely sheen. While we call for a ricer in our master mashed potatoes, a potato masher is perfectly acceptable here since the spuds will be bound with an egg, topped, and baked. Chopped almonds or walnuts would be a delicious sub for the pecans.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Pomegranate and Pine Nuts
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.
Modify the recipe for our Honey Whole-Wheat Pull-Apart Rolls by stirring in Asiago cheese and chopped rosemary. Substitute 1 tablespoon sugar for honey and reducing butter to 1 1/2 tablespoons. Add 1/4 cup grated Asiago cheese and 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary to milk mixture with butter, sugar, and eggs in step 1. Sprinkle 1 tablespoons grated Asiago over rolls before baking.
Lemon-Herb Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables
Combine 3 tablespoons olive oil, 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 in a large bowl, then follow remaining steps.
Potato and Leek Gratin
A mandoline will slice the potatoes quickly and to the same thickness, though a sharp knife will also work. Instead of being buried in cream, the potatoes and leeks are simmered in and drizzled with milk so the potatoes get wonderfully crisp and tender and the cheeses form a melty, golden crust. The result is a rich, rustic potato side with contrasting flavors and textures—a bit of crunch to round out the stuffing, sauces, and mashes on the plate. Reheat leftovers in the oven until crisped and warmed through, and then serve with eggs and a side of fruit for breakfast.
Cheesy Potato Casserole
Rather than using sodium-loaded canned soup, we made our own creamy sauce to update this dish.
Spiralized Beet and Butternut Squash Noodles with Parsley Pesto
What's better than roasted beets? Spiralized beets, duh! The nifty gadget turns beets and butternut squash into twirly noodles tossed in a delightful herby sauce.
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.
Baked Mac and Cheese
We added a surprise ingredient, canola mayonnaise, to make things extra creamy.
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.
Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Maple Gastrique
The gastrique, a tangy-sweet glaze, is Thanksgiving worthy but also simple enough to pull off on a weekday.
Green Beans with Dried Cranberries and Hazelnuts
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.
Sweet Potato Casserole
No Thanksgiving table is complete without this sweetened vegetable. Our modern twist on the classic sweet potato casserole is a fragrant vanilla bean streusel.
Roasted Cranberries and Grapes with Rosemary
Your relish is going to get a much needed revamp with the addition of grapes and rosemary. Black grapes have thicker skins than red grapes, and they'll hold up better under the broiler.
Roasted Broccoli with Pistachios and Pickled Golden Raisins
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.
Mom's Smashed Mashed Potatoes
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.
Old-Fashioned Mustard Pickles
Traditionally, the vegetables are salted and left to soften. Instead, we blanched them to tenderize before pickling.
Cran-Blueberry Sauce with Candied Ginger
Make this sauce a couple of days ahead, and refrigerate in an airtight container. Reheat in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, adding water—a tablespoon or two—to thin it.
Cheesy Sorghum and Shaved Squash Pilaf
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.
Nana's Rosemary Biscuits with Cranberries
When punching out dough rounds, avoid twisting the biscuit cutter, which will seal the edges and interfere with rising.
Shaved Apple and Fennel Salad with Crunchy Spelt
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.
Whole-Grain Spelt and Cornmeal Biscuits
Gently pat the dough flat instead of rolling with a rolling pin. Patting preserves all the pockets of fat needed for flaky biscuits, whereas rolling pancakes them into small, dense pucks. Cut the biscuits into squares to avoid any leftover scraps. This will also help you avoid the twisting motion of using a cutter that can also lead to flat biscuits. Spelt flour adds a deep nutty flavor, but you can use white whole-wheat flour if you can't find spelt.
Smoked Barley, Beet and Grapefruit Salad
Having a plant-based Thanksgiving doesn't have to mean missing out on a delicious meal. These recipes prove that vegans can eat just as much good food, shown through our seasonal salads, full-bodied sides, a gorgeous main dish, and dainty desserts.
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.
Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pickled Rye Berries
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.