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As you plan your Thanksgiving feast this year, you’ll undoubtedly place traditional favorites front and center—but don’t stop there! Let your creativity shine by featuring a few unusual side dishes with bold flavors and beautiful fall colors. Who knows, you just may find a new favorite that the whole family loves!
Looking for a sweet potato dish that isn’t quite so sweet? These charred potatoes paired with a spicy honey butter sauce are the perfect alternative. Choose smaller sweet potatoes so that portions are right for your guests, and make sure you get a good crisp on them in the oven. The sauce is easy if you use room-temperature butter; just incorporate honey and hot sauce, then spread on the potatoes. Garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds for a festive crunch, and let guests squeeze lime over the top as they enjoy.
Serving pineapple at Thanksgiving isn’t common, but pair it with cheese? That’s truly a rare dish. Once you try this delicious treat, you’ll put it into your regular holiday rotation. Start by coating cheddar cheese with flour and sugar, then add in drained pineapple. Create your topping by crushing Ritz crackers and mixing them with butter and the pineapple juice. Bake everything together until the top is crispy and the cheese has melted. This side dish is the perfect complement to the more savory items on the table, and even guests who don’t typically love pineapple will ask for seconds!
Adding a little spice to your Thanksgiving table this year is sure to make it memorable. These glazed shallots are a great complement to the richer, traditional side dishes and offer the perfect balance of spice and flavor. The key is to sauté the shallots in butter until they’re golden on all sides, then transfer them to the oven to finish baking with sprigs of thyme, chile, and sugar. The glaze that forms is memorable enough that your guests will ask for the recipe next year!
Creamed spinach or green beans are typically the green vegetables on the Thanksgiving table. Try something new this year by serving asparagus puff pastry tarts. These tarts could even double as the biscuit, too! Using store-bought puff pastry dough, form enough shells so that each guest can have their own. Cook the puff pastry shells for about 10 minutes, then remove and use a fork to press down the middle so it stays flat. While these cool, cook your asparagus on the stovetop to give it a nice sear on all sides. Make a sauce using sour cream, horseradish, and spicy mustard, then spread into the pastry shells. Add several asparagus spears on top, and you have an easy yet sophisticated dish!
It’s always a good idea to offer vegetarian and vegan meal options for your guests, so this dish could serve as the main course for those skipping the turkey. For everyone else, this stuffed butternut squash is a delicious side dish that could easily replace more traditional stuffing recipes. Roast the squash halves with a rub of maple syrup, vinegar, and oil for about 40 minutes until tender. While it’s baking, prepare your wild rice filling by cooking your rice of choice with onions, cayenne pepper, curry powder, and some cinnamon. These flavors mix wonderfully with other traditional dishes. Add some chunks of squash, cherries, and sage to cook, then spoon the finished mixture into the roasted squash halves and top with walnuts.
Instead of relying on cooked vegetables for your Thanksgiving table, try this delicious raw brussels sprout salad instead. Combining thin strips of brussels sprouts with roasted grapes, pecans, and orange segments adds bright flavors to your table. The star of this salad is the dressing made from balsamic vinegar, oil, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes. Coat the brussels sprouts with the dressing and massage them into the leaves to tenderize a bit before adding the rest of the ingredients. Your guests will welcome these crisp, fresh flavors alongside more traditional dishes.
Incorporate one (or more!) of these creative side dishes into your Thanksgiving menu this year!