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Be The Thanksgiving Hero: 5 Easy Chef's Kiss Side Dishes

It’s the fourth Thursday of November, it’s crisp, cool and there may even be a dusting of snow on the ground (for all the Northeast and Midwestern folks). You’re in the know and have outfitted yourself in the latest Element Lounge Hoodie and Pant, with the versatile Hardy Flannel and a pair of trusty Commuter Pants layed out for when dinner time strikes (with a back up Commuter Shirt ready to go in case you know, spills).

Looking back at the glory days (read: childhood), our Thanksgiving responsibilities included very little. It may even have just been to help set the table or make sure the water glasses were full. But it’s likely, if you’re reading this, that those days are long gone. Maybe you’re in your adult glory days but if we had to guess, the responsibilities list is much more robust. And that list may very well include, “preparing a Thanksgiving side dish.” The panic ensues. Maybe nothing can top your grandmother’s stuffing or your uncle’s roasted sweet potatoes and your mom’s perfectly whipped dill brown butter mashed potatoes take home the gold every year. 

Now listen, take a deep breath. For starters, it’s likely that you’ve picked up a skill or two in the kitchen over the years either by trial and error or simply by absorbing the skills of others. That’s step number one. On to step number two: we’ve done the hard work for you. We’ve championed a handful of side dishes that will have you bring home at least a silver medal from the dinner table this Thanksgiving.

FETA MAPLE BACON PECAN BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

  • 1/2 cup pecan halves

  • 1 tbsp honey

  • 1 tsp maple syrup

  • 4 slices bacon, diced

  • ½ cup feta cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400º F.

  2. Rinse and chop your brussels sprouts into halves (you may have to cut them into quarters depending on their size).

  3. In a large mixing bowl, add your brussels sprouts, salt and pepper, olive oil, cranberries, pecans, honey, and maple syrup. Toss to combine. 

  4. Spread the prepped vegetables onto a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

  5. After 15 minutes, make space on your baking sheet and add your slices of bacon. Bake for another 15 minutes.

  6. Remove pan from the oven, let cool, return contents to the mix bowl, add in your feta and mix to combine. 

SPICY MACARONI AND CHEESE

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP butter

  • ½ yellow onion, minced

  • 2 Tbsp almond flour

  • 3 cups almond milk

  • 2 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar

  • Salt and black pepper to taste

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni, penne, or shells (choose a lentil pasta for added protein)

  • ¼ cup chopped pickled jalapeños

  • 2 oz prosciutto or ham, cut into thin strips (remove to make vegetarian) 

  • ½  cup panko bread crumbs

  • ¼  cup grated Parmesan

If you’re looking to add some more veggies to your mac, try dicing some broccoli or tomatoes.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

  2. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add your butter. As it starts to melt, add in the onion and cook until it softens. 

  3. Add the flour and whisk briskly to combine with the butter mixture. 

  4. Next, pour in the milk slowly (think, a few tablespoons at a time) and again, whisk briskly to fully combine and avoid lumps. 

  5. Allow your sauce to simmer on low for 8-10 minutes (it should start to thicken). Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add in your cheese. 

  6. While your sauce is simmering, cook your pasta of choice according to the package. 

  7. Remove from heat, drain and stir in your cheese mixture, along with the jalapeños, and prosciutto. This is where you can also add in any additional vegetables. 

  8. To keep things simple, add your mac mixture to an oiled glass casserole dish (13”x9” will do - you could probably even go smaller).op with the bread crumbs and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

  9. Bake for 10 minutes and then broil for another 2-3 until crispy (keep an eye on things!). 

APPLE SAUSAGE STUFFING

Recipe Originally from Eat This, Not That

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp olive oil

  • 2-3 chicken apple sausage links

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 2 stalks celery, diced

  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled, and diced

  • ½ cup dried cranberries

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 5 cups cubed bread from a sturdy loaf or baguette (sourdough or whole wheat)

  • 10–12 leaves fresh sage, chopped

  • 1 ½ cups bone broth (chicken)

  • 1 egg, beaten

  • Salt and black pepper to taste

  • 2 Tbsp cold butter, diced

Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil.

  2. Add the sausage, onion, celery, apple, cranberries, and garlic and sauté for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.

  3. Combine the bread, sausage-vegetable mixture, sage, stock, and egg in a large mixing bowl.

  4. Toss to evenly coat the stuffing with the liquid. Season with a few pinches of salt and black pepper. Tongs or your hands work best here to ensure the bread is evenly coated with the mixture.

  5. Add mixture in a 13"x 9" casserole dish and dot with the butter.

  6. Bake, uncovered, for about 40 minutes, until the top of the stuffing is nicely browned and crunchy.

PUMPKIN CAULIFLOWER GNOCCHI WITH ASPARAGUS 

Ingredients

  • 2 packages Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi

  • 1 large bundle of asparagus, chopped into 1” (length) pieces

  • ¼ cup thick cut parmesan cheese

  • 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree

  • ½ cup raw cashews

  • 2 TBSP of olive oil

  • ½ tsp of dried sage

  • 5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

  • ½  sweet onion, roughly chopped

  • 1 ¼ cup of almond milk

  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, all spice

Instructions

  1. Add the cashews to a hot cup of water and let soak for 15 minutes and then drain.

  2. Cook the cauliflower gnocchi according to package directions and set aside.

  3. Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in a medium pan over high heat. Add in your chopped asparagus and cook for 8-10 minutes or until soft. Set aside with cauliflower gnocchi. 

  4. Next, heat the olive oil oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add in the onion, garlic, and sage and saute for 5 minutes.

  5. In a blender or food processor, add the onion mixture and pulse a few times. Add in the remaining ingredients, except for the parmesan cheese. Blend until creamy.

  6. In a large skillet, add your cauliflower gnocchi and pumpkin sauce. Heat and mix to combine. Top with parmesan cheese when ready to serve. 

PUMPKIN FRITTERS

Recipe Originally from Food with Feeling

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of grated pumpkin

  • ⅓ cup of shredded parmesan cheese

  • ½ teaspoon of garlic powder

  • 1 egg

  • 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder

  • 1 tablespoon of rosemary, finely chopped

  • 4 tablespoons of flour (sub almond or oat if desired)

  • ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper

  • Olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, parmesan, garlic powder, egg, and rosemary. Stir to combine.

  2. Add in the flour, salt and pepper, and baking powder. Mix to combine.

  3. In a medium-large skillet, heat a thin layer of olive oil until hot. Take about 1/8 cup of the pumpkin batter, put it into the hot oil and flatten lightly with a spatula (tip: spray the spatula with cooking spray before flattening the fritters to avoid sticking).

  4. Cook until golden brown on each side, about 3-4 minutes per side.


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