Thanksgiving is next week and for those of you that are still putting your menu together, I thought I would share a few of my go-to Thanksgiving side dishes, as I’m the queen of side dishes. These sides are not just for Thanksgiving, but are great seasonal sides to accompany any fall or winter meal. They’re also all vegetarian, and mostly gluten-free to boot!
Sorry, you won’t find any stuffing or mashed potatoes on here, but these sides will add a pop of color, some extra nutrition, and the bonus is, most of these recipes, if not all, can be made ahead of time.
Let’s first start off with salads. Salads are an easy side for the following reasons.
- They’re served cold, so they don’t take up precious oven or stove time.
- Most can be made ahead of time, so you don’t have to worry about the whole timing issue.
- They also add a pop of color and an extra nutritional boost to the typical Thanksgiving meal of turkey, potatoes, squash and stuffing.
- Bonus, if you’re the side dish person, you don’t have to be running around at the last minute, you can sit back, enjoy the company, and be present with your peeps.
Below are my faves..
I make this salad every Thanksgiving and it’s a crowd pleaser for sure. I love the combination of the kale with the crunchiness of the Brussels sprouts and the toasted almonds. The almonds are toasted in olive oil and then topped with some sea salt, and they totally make the salad. You may even see me sneaking in a few more into the salad. So if you want to add a nutritional power boost to your Thanksgiving table, make this salad!
This salad is comprised completely of Brussels, and the Brussels are raw and thinly sliced so they resemble a crunchy cabbage salad. The lemon vinaigrette adds a bit of tartness, and the toasted almonds sprinkled with sea salt add another crunchy layer that I honestly can’t get enough of. It’s also the perfect salad to bring to any holiday dinner or potluck, and will be a great addition to a heavy meal, as it’s light and healthy and unique. It’s also a great salad to serve your vegan friends, or for those who can’t tolerate dairy. I’ve served this salad up to family members of all ages and they’re surprised that they are eating and actually enjoying a salad comprised of Brussels sprouts,
The other bonus about this salad, is that it’s a make ahead salad. You can slice the sprouts in advance, make the vinaigrette, and even toast and salt the almonds ahead, so all you have to do come dinner time is toss everything together in a bowl. As Ina Garten would say, “how easy is that?”
This salad even holds up well if you dress it an hour or two ahead of time, so it’s the perfect salad to make in advance of any potluck.
This salad is beautiful in color, with the vibrant reds of the red curly kale and cranberries or pomegranates, and the greens of the curly kale. The sweet lemon maple dressing takes away the bitter taste of the curly kale. I love bringing this salad to a dinner party, because it’s always well received, and can be made ahead in the morning. Kids and adults love this salad, so it’s definitely a crowd pleaser. To make this even more colorful, feel free to add in some roasted butternut squash.
This is my most popular kale salad, and it has turned kale haters into kale lovers. It’s that good! This kale salad pairs with just about anything because the dressing is so simple, and it’s also another make ahead salad. You will have to make a double batch of this salad if you’re serving more than 4 people, as when it’s massaged, it reduces down quite a bit, plus it’s a crowd pleaser, so it gets gobbled up.
If you’re not a fan of stuffing, but want to serve up something more than just salad, then try my roasted sweet potato and farro salad. This is to me a perfect winter salad because it’s savory, sweet and nutty all at once. Roasted sweet potatoes paired with the chewy nutty texture of farro and topped with fresh dill and arugula greens, it’s almost too pretty to eat. This salad can be made slightly ahead and served warm to room temp.
Next I have some of my favorite warm sides.
This is truly a wonderful side dish, as it can be made ahead and served room temp, or made ahead and warmed back up in the oven before serving. Roasting vegetables brings out the natural sweetness in vegetables. The sweet potatoes and squash get a bit sweeter, and the red onion sweetens considerably (especially when you use coconut oil to roast it up), and its bitter and pungent flavor dissipates. If you have picky eaters who are not fans of vegetables, try roasting some up and I bet they’ll be fans!
If you’re not a fan of sweet potato, then here’s the recipe for just the squash and red onion. The crispy roasted red onion pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the butternut squash and coconut oil. If you add a naturally sweet side dish like this, or sweet potatoes to your meal, it can help cut back on those post dinner sugar cravings, so you don’t end up eating too much pie. This butternut squash and red onion pairs beautifully with my sautéed green beans and shallots, (see below) so feel free to cook the both and then serve them up together.
These sautéed green beans and shallots are one of our favorite fall and winter veggie side dishes. The beans are crisp and vibrant green in color, so not only are they a beautiful side dish that pair with just about anything, they also take a pretty bland vegetable and turn it into a flavor bomb, as the crispy shallots add a bacony flavor to the green beans. Every time I make these beans for family and friends they rave about how tasty the beans are. Steve hated green beans until he tried them cooked this way. You can blanch the green beans ahead of time, so when it comes to dinner, all you have to do is sauté up the shallots until crispy and then toss in the green beans to warm them up. I doubled this recipe and served these up for Thanksgiving dinner and it was super easy, as I didn’t need to worry about oven space and since I blanched the green beans ahead of time, they only took 10 minutes to cook up. I also love pairing these green bean and shallots with my roasted butternut squash and red onion and the flavors work beautifully together.
If you have any vegeterian friends coming over for Thanksgiving, you don’t want to serve them up a bunch of sides. This stuffed acorn squash is a great meatless alternative for Thanksgiving, or you can serve these up as a healthy side dish, you choose.
Hey, let’s not forget the cranberry sauce. This cranberry sauce recipe was passed down from John’s side of the family, and we all love it! It’s so simple to make, can even be made days ahead of time, and tastes 100 times better than the canned stuff. This sauce also makes a great hostess gift. I love to put the cranberry sauce into little glass jars, tie them with a cute bow and give them away throughout the holiday season.
As I said above, these sides are not just for Thanksgiving, they’re some of my favorite fall and winter sides to compliment any meal.