Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but it seems to be so stressful for so many people. It’s their first time cooking. They are trying to impress so and so. Somebody is a vegan. Managing to make all the traditional fare, impress so and so and make sure the vegan has something to eat means you are officially NOT allowed to enjoy yourself on Thanksgiving. So maybe we take the tradition out and simplify. Let’s create a tasty menu and make it a day that becomes your favorite too!

First, you need not make everything. Don’t spend time making a dish that only one person enjoys! Also, limit the menu to only one pureed or mashed vegetable. Honestly, how much of this one texture can you jam on the table? Speaking of jamming things on the table, pick a few awesome side dishes and make more of them. Not little amounts of many different items.

These are some of my favorite sides that are not conventional turkey companions but very delicious.

pumpernickelPumpernickel Panzanella

You can make this salad out of whatever you would normally make stuffing out of. Stuffing is usually too wet and mushed together for my liking. And salad is often out of place on the Thanksgiving spread. This is a great way to integrate those flavors and achieve a fun play on texture.

carrotsparsnipsCaramelized Carrot and Parsnip Salad

Pan roast these root vegetables and then create a quick caramel glaze, add aggressive amounts of lemon zest and fresh herbs. Serve over Boston or Bibb lettuce leaves and dollops of blue cheese crumbles.

Stuffed Squash

Instead of pureeing or mashing, I like to roast and stuff. I like to do chorizo and queso fresco with cornbread but the sky is the limit. You can stuff squash with anything. This is a good one for the vegans. Just remember no butter OR honey.

Pickled Beets

Try this instead of cranberry sauce or compote. It’s sure to get noticed. Vegans love pickled beets but don’t forget the Tofurky.

Do you have an unusual Thanksgiving side dish you love? Share your ideas here.

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