There are many who argue that a holiday meal is nothing without a big meat or roast or turkey of some sort. But in my opinion, when it comes time for the big meal, the meat is merely a vehicle for the plethora of delightful side dishes that accompany it. There are just so many amazing flavors—stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy— my mouth is watering just thinking about them. And let’s not forget about the veggies! Fall is the perfect time to enjoy all of the wonderful root vegetables that rule this time of year and there is no better day to honor them than the holidays. Plus, they provide a filling and delicious main course for any guest who prefers to leave the meat off the table. See below for a few of my favorite, veggie-centric Christmas side dishes.
Classic Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet potatoes are my absolute favorite Thanksgiving food — they’re like eating dessert for dinner. What’s better than that?! Not only do they provide a delectable sweetness, they are also filled with vitamin A, potassium and fiber. Now that is a vegetable I can get behind.
- 3 large sweet potatoes
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons of packed dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup of chopped pecans
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Put the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and poke each one two or three times with a fork. Bake the sweet potatoes for 45 to 50 minutes or until they are soft. Set them aside to cool off.
- Turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Scoop the sweet potatoes out of their skins and into a bowl. Mash the potatoes until they are smooth (I recommend using a hand mixer).
- Add the eggs, butter, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and the pepper to taste. Continue to stir the mixture until it is all smooth and creamy…uhh hello deliciousness!
- Butter an 8-by-8 inch casserole dish. Pour the mixture into the pan and sprinkle the top with pecans.
- Bake the sweet potato NOMZ for 30 minutes.
Spaghetti Squash and Potato Gratin
Spaghetti squash is one of the most versatile veggies out there. With a quick change of toppings, it can be made into an incredible Italian dinner or Asian-fusion lunch dish. No matter how you cook it, it is simply SO good. When paired with potatoes, it makes the perfect, creamy gratin that steals the show on any Christmas table.
- Cooking spray
- 1 large spaghetti squash
- 2 cups of heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- Chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme
- 1 cup of grated Parmesan
- Salt and pepper
- 2 large russet potatoes
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Take our spaghetti squash and poke it all around with a fork or knife. Microwave it for around 15 minutes, stopping every 5 minutes to rotate it. Be extra careful not to burn yourself as the squash will become very hot.
- Combine the cream, butter, garlic, thyme, 1/2 cup of Parmesan, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/4 teaspoons of pepper in a large saucepan.
- Peel your potatoes and slice them very, very thin using a mandolin. You can place them in the cream mixture as you slice. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then remove it from the heat.
- Slice your fully cooked squash in half. After all of the seeds have been removed (feel free to save them and roast them for a fall snack!), scrape out the all of the “noddles” with a fork.
- Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Combine your ingredients in the dish by layering the potatoes and squash one at a time. I recommend starting with the potatoes on the bottom.
- Pour all of the creamy goodness left in your saucepan into the baking dish, making sure all of your vegetables are submerged. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on top and try not to eat it right then.
- Bake your cheesy dish for about 1 hour in the oven. Although it will be nearly impossible, wait 15 minutes for it to cool before digging in!
Want to know one of the easiest, most classic dishes and a great way to get your kids to eat their veggies? Sounds too good to be true right? Nope! With a little cheese to the rescue, this creamed spinach recipe is fool-proof and a crowed (and kid) pleaser every time.
- 3 bags of spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 1/4 cups of heavy cream
- 1/4 cup of butter
- 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons of minced white onion
- 3 slices of provolone cheese
- 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
- Salt and Pepper
- In a large skillet, cook the spinach until it is wilted, making sure to continue to stir it the entire time. Remove it from the skillet, rinse it with cold water and squeeze it with your hands to remove as much liquid as possible.
- Take your same skillet and use it to melt your butter. Add your garlic and onions to the butter and cook them for about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and heavy cream and sprinkle in your cheese, making sure to keep stirring the whole time. Cook and stir (yup, keep on stirring!) until the mixture becomes thick.
- Season with a little salt and pepper and serve it piping hot! Quick, simple, and oh, so delicious!
What are your must-have vegetables on your holiday table?