In my family, having a salad on the Thanksgiving table is a controversial issue. My mother, an avowed vegetable enthusiast, lobbies for it every year. My dad is firmly attached to tradition and so had long been entirely opposed to the presence of raw greenery.
He thinks that the menu should remain unchanged and the side dishes should be limited to stuffing, mashed potatoes, pureed winter squash, buttered green beans and a quivering log of canned cranberry jelly. The issue is made harder by the fact that he is the designated holiday cook in our household and so much of the prep falls to him.
In recent years, my mom and I have had some success in convincing my dad of the merits of a hearty autumnal salad as an addition (not a replacement) to the holiday table. He has reluctantly conceded, provided we select a salad that maintains a sense of seasonal integrity.
And so, during the last few years, I’ve dreamed up an array of salads and relish-like concoctions that satisfy a hunger for raw, crunchy things. For this year’s salad, I have my sights set on Tyler Florence’s recipe for Winter Slaw.
Before you start cooking, read these tips
A lot of our Thanksgiving traditions come canned — the pumpkin puree for your pie, the start of your favorite cranberry sauce and those curly fried onions for your green bean casserole. These time-honored ingredients get this most-anticipated meal on the table year after year. As the holiday draws near, however, give some serious thanks by stocking your table with show-stopping produce-loving sides.
As you start assembling those grocery lists of yours, mix and match these 10 killer dishes — each with a veggie focus — for a Thanksgiving spread your family will reproduce for years to come.
1. Mushrooms: We may eat our mushrooms year-round, but Ina’s Mushroom-Leek Bread Pudding celebrates this ingredient in a preparation reminiscent of classic Thanksgiving stuffing.
2. Squash: Food Network Magazine’s Lemon-Maple Squash are curvy and sophisticated, working as an elegant addition to the other casserole-leaning sides.
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Classic mashed potatoes: some would argue that they’re the best side on the Thanksgiving table. And while there’s nothing wrong with the traditional additions of salt, pepper, butter and milk, sometimes change is in order. This week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week from Food Network Magazine offers 50 delicious mashed potato recipes. Some are simple toppings, while other ideas incorporate pesto, hummus, roasted veggies and different cheeses.
For more Thanksgiving recipe inspiration, visit Food Network’s Let’s Celebrate Thanksgiving board on Pinterest.
Get the Recipes: Food Network Magazine’s 50 Ways to Mash Potatoes
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You likely have your Thanksgiving menu set. For all we know, it was set in stone years ago, probably when your all-knowing elders were in charge. The turkey part of Turkey Day is a no-brainer, but the sides are like a puzzle. You’ll serve the usual contenders — fluffy mashed potatoes with a puddle of gravy, Grandma’s sweet potato casserole (marshmallows and all) — but you’ll need something else to balance out all that richness.
This year, as your family gathers around the dinner table for yet another Thanksgiving meal, look to another veggie that’s at the top of every restaurant menu and grocery list: Brussels sprouts. We like ours cooked right — caramelized and tender at every layer. As you draft up your preliminary rounds of potential recipes, keep in-season Brussels sprouts at the top of your list.
Turkey Day is known for chaos. Ease things up and simply drizzle halved sprouts with olive oil for basic Roasted Brussels Sprouts by Food Network Magazine. And with just one small addition, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon take on a smoky saltiness, perfect for the big Thanksgiving meal or any night of the week.
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When it comes to Thanksgiving, it’s no secret that sides stand out as the main event. There’s nothing better than digging into an all-star lineup of mashed potatoes, stuffing and green bean casserole — especially when it’s all dressed up with a little gravy.
This year, plate up one of our favorite Turkey Day recipes: the Neelys’ Old School Sweet Potato Soufflé. It dresses up the iconic casserole with salted cashews, mini marshmallows and shredded coconut. When the dish slides out of the oven and onto the table, the flavors are ultimately smooth, sweet and salty. And with looks like this, you can be sure that it won’t sit to the side.
While you’re at it, check out this fleet of stellar sides. That way, you know your soufflé will be in good company.
Talk to us: What’s your favorite Thanksgiving side dish? Tell us in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag: #fallfest.
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Here in Food Network Kitchens, we love simple, classic recipes. We are also paid to think about food all day. So we’ve taken classic foods and drinks and reimagined them into three, four or five different ways. No standard recipes here, just the occasional technique and pictures. Think of it as a picture recipe.
No Thanksgiving is complete with the classic green bean casserole. We know it’s hard to mess with a classic, so here are some simple tweaks to take the classic to a whole new level.
First, start with the classic version
Whether you’re starting to plan your Thanksgiving side recipes or just looking for the perfect recipe to complement tonight’s dinner, this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week is a knockout. Ina Garten enhances the classic mashed potato recipe for Food Network Magazine by leaving the skins on red potatoes and then mixing them until smooth by folding in sour cream, Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.
For more Turkey Day inspiration, visit Food Network’s Let’s Plan: Food Network Magazine’s Thanksgiving Menu board on Pinterest.
Get the recipe: Food Network Magazine‘s Parmesan Smashed Potatoes
Add a pop of color to your Thanksgiving spread with an easy carrot side. Whether you steam, boil or roast these bright root vegetables, they’re a perfect last-minute addition — done in 20 minutes or less.
For Middle Eastern flair, make Food Network Magazine’s Roasted Carrots With Za’atar (pictured above). Start by roasting the carrots in salt and pepper, then toss them with za’atar (a spice blend available at Middle Eastern markets), parsley and a splash of lemon.
Sunny’s Honey Glazed Carrots let the vegetable’s natural flavor shine through. Cook until a light honey glaze coats the carrots. We guarantee you won’t be able to eat just one.
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There’s no question that a Thanksgiving plate is not complete without a piping hot scoop of silky smooth mashed potatoes nestled next to a few slices of juicy turkey, a heaping mound of stuffing, a small pool of cranberry sauce and a buttery roll. However, the way to make the perfect bowl of mashed potatoes isn’t so obvious. Which kind of potato yields the creamiest mashed mixture? What size should the potatoes be when you cook them? And what about butter, cream or milk — which is best and at what temperature should you incorporate them? We have the answers, plus tips, suggestions and easy recipes to make this Thanksgiving’s starchy side dish better than ever.
Select a Spud: Thanks to their high starch content, russets or Yukon Gold potatoes will be your best potato picks and yield an extra fluffy finished product. I’m partial to Yukon Golds for their natural, slightly buttery flavor, though regular baking potatoes mash up nicely as well.
To Chop or Not? »
When glazing your vegetables, add a touch of butter and sugar with a pinch of salt. The sugar and butter add shine to the glaze. Aromatics like herbs, ginger or citrus zest will add some zing.
Follow this guide to learn how to make your veggie side dish extraordinary, then watch our how-to video.
Browse more of Food Network’s Thanksgiving side dish recipes.