As much as you plan and prepare for your Turkey, or any other Vegetarian main course, do not forget the side dishes. They are as important as the main course or the dessert, as they add an interesting texture and variety to the menu, in their own endearing way. This Thanksgiving, you don’t have to go for the staples like Green beans or Mashed Potatoes like every year, add an interesting twist to your menu by incorporating some quick and easy side dishes that will make entertaining even more fun! Recipes adapted from Food Network magazine, Woman’s Day and Epicurious. Photo by Jonny Valiant.
Mashed Potatoes are a staple during Thanksgiving. But if you are looking for something interesting to serve your guests, go for the Warm Potato Salad instead. Flavored with aromatic spices like tarragon and mustard, it is sure to give a tough competition to the main course.
Warm Potato Salad
1 lb each baby red and Yukon Gold potatoes, halved (quartered if larger)
3 Tbsp creamy Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp each seasoned rice vinegar and olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Place potatoes in a large pot and fill with cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and gently boil 12 to 15 minutes, until potatoes are just tender when pierced with tip of a knife. Drain in colander.
In large bowl, whisk mustard, vinegar, olive oil, tarragon, salt and pepper. Add potatoes and scallions; gently toss until evenly coated. Serve immediately while still warm or at room temperature.
If you are looking for a tasty side dish with a touch of Indian flavor, try these Roasted Carrots inspired by the Gajar ka Achaar in Indian cuisine. it pairs well with any kind of food, and will add a crunchy element to your gravies and curries.
Indian-Style Roasted Carrot Salad
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic paste
2 lb small carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
1/3 cup coarsely chopped mint
1 tbsp lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat oven to 450°F. Spray 2 rimmed baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Melt butter in a small bowl in microwave. Stir in sugar, coriander powder and salt.
Put half of the carrots on each pan. Drizzle each pan with half of the butter mixture. Toss to coat; spread carrots evenly on pan. Roast 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once or twice, until tender and lightly browned in a few places. Sprinkle with mint, lemon juice, garlic paste and ground pepper. Toss to coat evenly, and transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with some more freshly chopped coriander and serve.
Rice is always a great way to add a filling side dish to a menu. For a quick and flavorful recipe, cook some long-grained rice with leeks, tomatoes and Garam masala – you’ll love the jazz it adds to your Turkey!
Spicy Rice Pilaf (Pulao)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter (or vegetable oil)
1 large leek (about 2 cups) – white and light green part only, chopped
3 1/2 – 4 cups water
3 cups long-grained (Basmati) rice
1/2 tsp garam masala (or Biryani masala0
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 cups diced plum tomatoes
Chopped parsley – for garnish
Melt butter in a 6-qt pot. Add chopped leeks, then cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the leeks are tender.Add the chopped tomatoes and toss just enough to coat with butter, about 1 minute Scrape into a bowl and set aside.
Add water to the same pot and bring to a boil. Stir in rice and Garam Masala. Cover and reduce heat to simmer 10 minutes. Stir in thyme, then cover and cook until rice is tender. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
Stir in the leeks and tomatoes. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve warm.
You’d think I am nuts suggesting the next recipe, but try it before you make a judgment! Sweet potatoes and pears go so well with each other, you’ll love this Gratin as a side dish. And just to balance the natural sweetness, we add a bit of ginger, lemon juice, pepper and nutmeg – smells Yumm!!
Sweet Potato & Pear Gratin
3 lb medium sweet potatoes
3 firm-ripe pears – peeled and sliced
3 Tbsp stick butter
2 tsp grated peeled ginger
1 tsp grated nutmeg
a pinch of ground white pepper
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
Boil sweet potatoes in a large pot of water. Cover and cook for 20 to 25 minutes until firm-tender. Drain in a colander; let stand until cool enough to handle. Then peel and slice into thin rounds, just like the pear slices.
Meanwhile, melt butter in pot. Add ginger; cook until fragrant. Remove from heat and stir in maple , syrup, lemon zest, nutmeg, white pepper and salt.
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a shallow 2 to 2 1/2-qt baking dish. the toes and pears in alternate layers. Brush with half the butter mixture. Bake 15 minutes, then brush with remaining butter mixture, turn the baking dish around and bake for another 15 minutes, until done.
Butternut Squash is a great way to add a bit of sweet touch to your mashed potatoes. Better yet, combine the squash with apples instead for a fruity side dish that even the kids at your table will love.
Butternut Squash & Mashed Potatoes
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter
3 1/2 lb (about 10 cups) peeled, seeded butternut squash, chopped
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and quartered
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
thyme leaves and apple slices – for garnish
Heat oven to 350°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with nonstick foil. Put 1 Tbsp of melted butter in each lined pan. Spread half the squash and apples on each pan. Toss to mix and coat. Roast 40 to 45 minutes, tossing once, until tender.
Place squash and apples into a bowl. Add remaining 2 Tbsp butter and the salt and pepper. Mash until smooth. Scrape into a serving dish and garnish with chopped thyme and some more apples.
Make the most of your holiday by serving these unique side dishes to your friends and family. Wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season!