I have some lofty goals. Some of them I know, with motivation and practice, I WILL accomplish someday. Others—like preparing a complete Thanksgiving meal—I know really and truly won’t ever happen.
I don’t enjoy cooking, and everything about spearheading a meal of such magnitude is intimidating. Getting up at the crack of dawn? Touching the innards of a bird? Managing the hectic oven schedule?
I couldn’t. And I wouldn’t.
No matter where I’m headed for Thanksgiving, I’m always gladly willing to bring at least one easy side dish to the table. My go-to side dish for Thanksgiving is a Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard Gratin made with flour, milk, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, salt, garlic powder, and white pepper. It’s easy to make (ESPECIALLY if you get the pre-cut squash and the washed and trimmed chard). It’s also time-consuming enough to show I tried and “different” enough to stand out.
Need some more inspiration for easy Thanksgiving side dishes? Thanks to my friends and family, who shared their favorite bring-along ideas.
“My husband’s family is from the South and you don’t go to a party or a restaurant without pimento cheese being on the table. It’s easy to make and delicious. We use a combination of cream cheese, mayo, a drained jar of pimentos, and one of my secret ingredients: smoked paprika. Mix everything together and refrigerate overnight. Bring to the party with butter crackers—you are in business!”
Get your greens
“Forget what you think you know about Broccoli. I steam it, sauté some garlic in olive oil, drizzle oil and garlic over broccoli, and add bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and white pepper. Spread in baking pan, cover lightly again with bread crumb and cheese and bake on high ‘til bread crumbs brown slightly. People look forward to it more than the turkey!”
“I love to make roasted root vegetables as a Thanksgiving side dish. Sweet potatoes, beets, butternut squash, and parsnips are tossed with olive oil, kosher salt, garlic, and fresh herbs, and roasted on cookie sheets until lightly browned. Not only are the veggies delicious, the beautiful colors remind me of Fall.”
Just like candy
“I always bring a Sweet Potato Casserole with toasted marshmallows on top. I bring it because it smells great (toasted marshmallows!) and it makes kids’ eyes open wide when they see all those marshmallows. You can find a ton of recipes online so look for an ingredient list you like and go for it. But watch out for marshmallow thieves! I have taken a casserole out of the fridge on Thanksgiving Day and found them all picked off.”
Oldie but a goodie
“My kids are all grown with families of their own and don’t always spend Turkey Day with me—but each one expects to get some of my Italian Stuffing! It’s a recipe handed down to me by my mother, and it’s made with week-old cubed white bread, celery, onions, butter, poultry seasoning, crumbled up fried Italian sausage, and turkey broth. And since it tastes great left over, it’s become a Thanksgiving tradition for me to always make an extra-large batch so everyone gets their share.”
“We have an egg allergy in the family and egg-free desserts are hard to come by, so I like to bring a dessert to the Thanksgiving meal. Our Egg-Free Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Cookies, and Shortbread Cookies Dipped in Chocolate are always a hit. We’ve found some great recipes using applesauce, bananas, or flaxseed as an egg replacer; we also enjoy allergy-safe brands like Cherrybrook Kitchen and Divvies.”
What are your favorite easy Thanksgiving sides?