Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Whether you’re hosting or simply attending someone else’s shindig, chances are you’re in charge of making at least one dish.
Either way, the last thing you want is some elaborate, hard to follow recipe that won’t turn out like the image on Pinterest. But then again, you probably want to up your game from last year, since apparently Pinterest has made everyone else and their mother is a pro chef now.
So we’ve compiled three super easy, elegant sides that are fresh takes on the classics.
One of the best things about these recipes is that all (yes, all) are vegan and grain free. This makes sure that if someone on your guest list has special dietary restrictions, they have options beyond salad and whatever dish they brought to pass.
I don’t know WHO decided to turn cranberry sauce into the terrifying, gelatinous goop that most people avoid at all costs, but that person has effectively ruined everyone’s perceptive of the classic Thanksgiving side. We’re here to fix that.
See, cranberry sauce is actually not bad at all…At least when it’s not pulverized and served as a giggling can-shaped log. When homemade, it’s actually quite good. And the only thing that can make a good thing even better is booze. Here’s what we’ve got for ya:
BOURBON CRANBERRY SAUCE
- 2 (12 oz.) packages of cranberries
- 1/2 c white sugar
- 1 1/2 c brown sugar
- 3/4 c fresh squeezed orange juice
- 3/4 c water
- zest of one orange (reserve about 1 tsp to use as garnish)
- 2 Tbsp. bourbon*
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
*If you have a guest with Celiac’s disease or gluten sensitivity, use a bourbon or whiskey that is considered gluten free. Maker’s Mark, Jack Daniel’s, and Wild Turkey are some easy-to-find options.
- Place all ingredients (except for the vanilla and reserved orange zest) in a medium saucepan. Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes, or until most of the liquid has reduced.
- You’ll hear the cranberries pop. Once most of them look popped and while you still have some liquid, remove from heat and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
- Stir in vanilla. Serve with remaining orange zest on top as a garnish.
The best thing about this side (other than that it’s delicious), is that it can be made days ahead of time. That makes it one less thing you need to use the stove for on Thanksgiving! Just refrigerate and allow to reach room temperature before serving.
Another thing that is completely ruined when in can form is green beans. Um??? You can’t call them green beans if they’re practically brown.
Maybe we’re snooty as all hell, but we don’t think you should subject anyone to canned green beans, especially since making fresh ones is really not that hard. Our easy upgrade to fresh steamed green beans is adding pomegranate seeds and toasted nuts. This unexpected twist works so well AND looks super pretty!
FANCY AF GREEN BEANS
- 1 1/2 lbs of fresh green beans, ends cut off
- the seeds of 1/2 of a pomegranate
- 1/3 c pecans (or walnuts)
- 3/4 c shaved parmesan, set aside separately for topping
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- Fill a pot with a steamer with 2″ of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add all your green beans and cover. Steam for 6 minutes, being sure not to overcook. Remove from heat and drain.
- While you’re steaming the beans, you can toast the nuts. Place the 1/3 c whole nuts into a frying pan over medium heat, and toast 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Make sure to stir them around to ensure even toasting. Remove from pan to cool- this will prevent the nuts from overcooking. Coarsely chop once cool.
- Mix maple syrup, olive oil, and lemon juice in small bowl. Toss over drained green beans.
- Top with nuts and pomegranate seeds. Keep shaved parmesan in separate bowl for those who wish to top their beans with it.
One of the great things about these beans is they even taste good room temperature or cold. Beans are always one of the first things to get cold on the table, so it’s good that these ones still retain their goodness even when they’re not fresh out of the pan.
Now, we realize mashed potatoes are sacred. God didn’t create this world for no reason, and we firmly believe mashed potatoes was one of the reasons that he decided to. That being said, if you’re anything like us, you love switching things up and aren’t afraid to bend the rules. Or maybe you love having more than one potato option in your spread. That’s even better.
Enter smashed potatoes. These potatoes are crispy, flavorful, and addictive. They’re bound to be a hit!
- Baby red or gold potatoes (plan on 1-2 per guest)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 3 garlic cloves, diced
- Coarse salt and pepper, to taste
- Fresh thyme
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Drizzle oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray. You can also salt and pepper the pan for extra flavor on the bottom of the potatoes. Set aside.
- Fill a large pot with water and start to boil. Once boiling, put unpeeled whole potatoes in and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain all water.
- Place potatoes onto the prepared baking sheet. Use a potato masher, fork, or sturdy spatula to carefully smash the potatoes until flattened but still in one piece. Top with olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper.
- Place into oven and bake for 18 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.
- Top with fresh thyme and serve immediately.
So there you have it! We can’t wait to hear if any of our readers made any of these for Thanksgiving!