A good Thanksgiving side dish is not only delicious, it is considerate of the cook. Here are some of our new and old favorites that allow us to do most of the work in advance, so we, too, can enjoy hanging out with our family.
Mashed Potatoes with Cauliflower Crust
Forgive the lack of humility, but I think this is a genius (gluten free) way to serve mashed potatoes. The crisp golden crumb topping is made with riced cauliflower– and, like the potatoes, can be made early in the day, because the topping will crisp again on top of the warming potatoes. (As with all re-heating, bring it to room temperature first and it will reheat more quickly.)
I’ve done many versions of this dish over the years, but the idea is always the same: I lighten the dense mashed sweet potato by stirring in beaten egg whites. It makes the potatoes light and fluffier– which is perfect for a huge Thanksgiving feast. This version is topped with a cornflake crust, and just this past Sunday, at my annual Thanksgiving Essentials class at Institute of Culinary Education we topped the sweet potatoes with this Pecan Streusel:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut in bits
2/3 cup chopped pecans
-Combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon and cut in the butter with two butter knives (or your fingertips) until it resembles coarse sand. Stir int he pecans, then sprinkle over the potatoes and bake.
You can make the potatoes a day ahead, and either topping up to a week, but store the topping in a separate container in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake it.
Parker House Rolls with Sage Honey Butter
There is nothing quite like the lighter, delicate and slightly sweet flavor of a Parker House dinner roll. I love how these look served right out of my Vesta cast iron skillet. The dough may be made a day ahead– let it rise in the refrigerator overnight. These come with a warning: if you serve them just once on Thanksgiving, you will be asked to make them every year. Oh–and the honey sage butter can be made a week ahead.
This cheesy, rich tweak of the classic yellow squash casserole can be made the day before and reheated with perfect results. In our version, the squash is roasted first to eke out every bit of flavor, and then tossed with caramelized onions, sour cream and cheeses and transferred to a table-ready baking dish.
(Do-Ahead) Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
You can have crisp, hot Brussels Sprouts on the table and do most of the work in advance! If you have non-meat or non-bacon eating guests, make this dish with olive oil in place of the bacon fat, and toss the cooked Brussels sprouts with toasted pecan.
Kale, gruyere, and caramelized onion: the flavors and textures of this do-ahead casserole are a perfect compliment to turkey, potatoes and other traditional Thanksgiving fare.