Thanksgiving is the season of cooking and tradition. Well, perhaps. Looking to mix up your Thanksgiving menu this year? Check out these five unique side dishes to add to your list.
Butternut Squash and Cider Soup
The beauty of this soup is it is not only packed full of fall flavor but also takes about 30 minutes to make – a great time saver on a day associated with being in the kitchen cooking all day.
- ½ large white onion, minced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 8 cups of butternut squash (save time and buy the pre-peeled, seeded, and cubed version)
- 1 cup of chicken stock or water
- 1 cup of apple cider
- ½ cup of sour cream
- 1 tsp salt
- Cracked black pepper
Add the onion, garlic, and ½ cup of water to a heated medium-sized saucepan. Cook the onion and garlic until they are soft and the water is nearly evaporated, checking often to ensure they do not burn. Once the water is nearly evaporated, add the squash and chicken stock (or water if that is what you are using) and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover for about 20 minutes until the squash is soft. Once the squash is soft, use an immersion blender or pour the contents into a blender and blend until smooth. Add the sour cream, cider, and salt and blend until smooth. Add more apple cider or salt to taste. Serve hot.
Pumpkin and Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes
Scalloped Potatoes aren’t new to the Thanksgiving table, but adding pumpkin to the dish accentuates the fall flavor.
- 2 tsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 2 TBL flour
- 1 cup warm milk
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ cup +1 TBL pumpkin puree
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 3 large russet or Yukon gold potatoes cut into 1/8-inch slices
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 1-quart oval baking dish. In a medium saucepan, melt butter and add garlic, heating until fragrant. Whisk in flour until all the garlic is coated. Slowly wish in the warm milk, ensuring it mixes well together. Add in salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until thickened. Whisk in the pumpkin puree and season with salt and pepper to taste. Take the mixture off the heat while preparing the baking dish. Layer the pumpkin slices on the bottom of the dish and spread half the sauce mixture and cheese on top. Then layer a second layer of potatoes and top with cream and cheese. Repeat the process until all the potatoes, cream, and cheese are used. Cover with aluminum foil (be sure to spray with cooking spray to ensure it doesn’t stick to the dish) and bake until the potatoes are fork-tender. Serve hot.
Twice Baked Acorn Squash
Move over twice-baked potatoes. Here is the fall version ready for the fall harvest table.
- 3 acorn squash, halved
- 1 pound russet potato, peeled and diced
- ¼ cup crème fraiche
- 4 TBL unsalted butter
- 2 TBL maple syrup
- Handful of pecans, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the halved acorn squash, flesh side down, and roast for 30 minutes until the squash is tender. While the squash is cooking, bring a medium saucepan filled with water to a boil and boil the diced potato until soft. Take the pot off the heat, drain the pot, and add the potatoes back to the pot and mash or run the potato through a ricer. Add in the crème fraiche, 1 TBL butter, salt, and pepper to taste and set aside. Scoop out the flesh of the cooked acorn squash, add it to the potato mixture, and put the pot back on the heat until combined. Be sure to salt and pepper to taste. Refill the acorn squash shells with the potato-squash mixture. Turn on your broiler and add the filled squash shells to a cookie sheet, baking until the squash tops are just toasted. Mix 3 TBL butter and maple syrup with a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Spoon the maple butter mixture over the baked squash shells and top with chopped pecans when the squash is out of the oven.
Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes
The crockpot is the unsung hero in the kitchen – it’s a timesaver and helper cooking a meal or side dish while we get other things done. If sweet potatoes are on your typical menu, use this cooking method to save yourself some time and precious oven cooking space.
- 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch slices
- 6 fresh thyme sprigs
- 3 TBL salted butter
- 4 TBL blue cheese
- Salt and pepper
- 2 TBL maple syrup
- ¼ cup candied pecans, chopped
Layer the sweet potatoes into the slow cooker with half of the thyme sprigs and butter. Cover the potatoes with parchment paper, allowing them to steam as they cook. Cook on low for 4 hours. When ready to serve, top with blue cheese, remaining fresh thyme, salt and pepper, maple syrup, and candied pecans.
Cinnamon Butter Baked Carrots
- 15 carrots, peeled with tops removed
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- ½ sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/3 cup boiling water
- 1 TBL orange juice
- Fresh parsley, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the cleaned carrots in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Cream the butter, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a separate bowl using an electric mixer. Slowly add the boiling water and orange juice while the mixer runs. Pour the mixture over the carrots. Cover the dish and bake for 90 minutes. Once ready to serve, remove the cover and transfer the carrots to a baking dish. Drizzle with melted cinnamon butter from the baking dish and garnish with chopped parsley.