At Thanksgiving, nostalgia rules. If you’re not careful to serve all the usual suspects, you’ll hear cries of “Where’s the sweet potato casserole?” “What about the green beans?” “But we always have glazed carrots!” As a cook, you’re stuck between a rock and your desire to have fun in the kitchen trying new things.
Here’s a plan that’ll satisfy your craving for fresh flavors without letting anyone down. (And no, we’re not suggesting you give up the turkey or mashed potatoes.) We’ve taken six traditional Thanksgiving side dishes and given them modern makeovers. So everyone wins: Cooks are happy that they can play a little, and guests get to have their favorites—just better.
Green Beans with Crispy Pancetta, Mushrooms, and Shallots
The onion-topped green bean casserole is a Thanksgiving mainstay. This version, while full of familiar flavors, is a bit more elegant, and dare we say it, a lot more flavorful.
Roasted Turnips with Maple and Cardamom
For those who can’t imagine turkey without a side of mashed turnips, here’s a new take on the vegetable. An intriguing sauce laced with coriander and cardamom gives the dish surprising complexity.
Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Hazelnut Butter
The lemon zest in the butter adds loads of bright flavor to the nutty sprouts. Suffice it to say, this delicious dish trumps the old one.
Glazed carrots never had it so good. Bright, fresh flavors and a little cayenne play well with the rich fare on the rest of the Thanksgiving plate.
Bourbon Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole with a Pecan Crust
This dish is nothing like the sweet potato casserole of old. Sautéed apples, a crunchy pecan crust, and spicy mashed sweet potatoes make for a sophisticated update.
Creamy Baked Leeks with Garlic, Thyme, and Parmigiano
This simple recipe doesn’t require the cook’s attention at the last minute—but it will get the attention of your onion-loving guests. If possible, choose leeks that are all about the same size.