4 Easy, Wild Card Veggie Sides for Thanksgiving Day
Traditional Thanksgiving fare can be incredibly comforting and nostalgic, but it’s more fun when you have at least one wild card dish. We’re not saying give up mashed potatoes, and we’re not serving wild rice pilaf in lieu of stuffing (though wild rice is an indigenous crop to North America and would be a deliciously appropriate addition to the table). All we’re saying is: Let’s have a little fun with those sides.
We took four of our favorite Thanksgiving holiday veggies (sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, and squash) and gave them a lighter, brighter, more modern treatment. Our new takes include some of our go-to less-than-traditional ingredients (tahini! miso! sriracha!). While those OG Thanksgiving recipes tend to be pretty labor-intensive, we streamlined our four iterations, so that each side dish is easy to execute when there’s a lot going on in the kitchen. Because if you’re doing it right, there will be.
You could easily serve this year-round. We like it as a grown-up alternative to the sugar-laden sweet potato dish you normally see on Thanksgiving. Not that we’re trying to cut the sugar per se (it is a holiday after all), but Japanese sweet potatoes are already plenty sweet, and the tart and creamy lime-tahini yogurt keeps this dish in decidedly savory territory.
The combination of sweet-sticky honey and toasted walnuts conjures up memories of the takeout classic honey-walnut shrimp. But this carrot-inspired rendition is a lot less treacly and a lot more umami-packed, thanks to the miso. The fresh garlic and scallions add a pungent bite, which keeps this whole situation balanced.
Traditional green bean casserole is perhaps more delicious as a memory than it is in reality. It’s an incredibly rich belly bomb, and making it is kind of a production. We wanted to take our favorite things about it (butter, tender green beans, crispy onions) and add some elements to brighten it up (sriracha, lemon). This version hits all the marks, and it does so with only 7 ingredients. Huzzah!
We are firmly in the “Your Thanksgiving Menu Needs a Salad” camp. We want at least one bite to be raw, crunchy, and acidic to counter all the heavy stuff. This offering is a great compromise for salad lovers and haters alike. It has a piquant sherry-mustard dressing and bitter frisée—a welcome break for your palate—but it’s balanced by rich roasted squash, sweet chewy dates, and nutty pepitas.