When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, most Americans look forward to fan favorites like turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. They gorge themselves on the fat and carbs, with vegetables and salads only sad afterthoughts. Some believe that the color green doesn’t belong on the Thanksgiving table, but it’s constructive to have healthy dishes available, too, because they keep guests from overdoing it on the heavy sides and also add a nutritious flair to the typical holiday menu.
Here are six vegetable dishes you should consider serving on the fourth Thursday of November. These highlighted recipes yield flavorful side dishes that are both nutritious and delicious, and they also promise to add great color to your otherwise largely brown Thanksgiving table.
1. Honey-Roasted Root Vegetables
This recipe from Food & Wine will brighten up your dinner table on November 27 and steal attention from the always adored turkey and stuffing dishes. Honey-glazed roasted root vegetables are the perfect addition to carb-rich sides and mains, and the dish will provide a healthy respite from the other nap-inducing Thanksgiving foods. Enlisting only seasonal ingredients, this dish will be easy on both your wallet and your waistline, and it will take only 25 minutes to prepare.
- 1¼ pounds parsnips, peeled and sliced ½ inch thick
- 1¼ pounds carrots, peeled and sliced ½ inch thick
- One 1¼-pound celery root, peeled, quartered, and sliced ½ inch thick
- 1¼ pounds golden beets, peeled and sliced ½ inch thick
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup honey
- 6 thyme sprigs
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, toss the root vegetables with the oil, honey, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Divide between two large, sturdy rimmed baking sheets. Cover with foil and roast for 40 minutes, shifting the pans once, until the vegetables are tender. Remove the foil and roast for 10 minutes longer, until glazed. Return them to the bowl and stir in the vinegar, then season with salt and pepper. Serve right away.
2. Brussels Sprouts With Bacon, Garlic, and Shallots
Our next dish stars an ingredient that people love to hate until they try it with bacon: Brussels sprouts. That’s where this Brussels Sprouts With Bacon, Garlic, and Shallots dish from Cooking Light comes in. Serve this one on Thanksgiving and your guests may find a new favorite side.
- 6 slices center-cut bacon, chopped
- ½ cup sliced shallot (about 1 large)
- 1½ pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- ¾ cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Directions: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and sauté for 5 minutes, or until bacon begins to brown. Remove pan from heat. Remove the bacon from pan with a slotted spoon, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan.
Return pan to medium-high heat and stir in bacon, shallot, and Brussels sprouts; sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic, and sauté for 4 minutes or until garlic begins to brown, stirring frequently. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes or until the broth mostly evaporates and the sprouts are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in salt and pepper.
3. Sautéed Green Beans and Mushrooms
Instead of making the traditional green bean casserole this year, switch it up and use this recipe for Sautéed Green Beans and Mushrooms from Martha Stewart. This dish is a lot healthier than its casserole cousin, and it will leave room for the other decadent foods that are already destined to enter your stomach. Requiring only five ingredients, this side dish will be your easiest to make.
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 2 pounds green beans (stem ends removed), halved crosswise
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound button mushrooms, stems trimmed, halved
- 2 shallots, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rings
Directions: Fill a large skillet with ½ inch water; bring to a boil and salt generously. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Add green beans to skillet; cover and steam until crisp-tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to ice water to cool; drain and pat dry. Wipe skillet dry. In same skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and shallots; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms release their liquid, 3 to 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until browned, 8 to 12 minutes more. Add green beans; cook just to heat through, 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Butternut Squash Gratin
Get your guests to eat their orange vegetables using this formula for Butternut Squash Gratin from Simple Bites. The combination of sweet butternut squash with sharp Parmesan cheese yields a match made in gratin heaven, and it tastes just decadent enough without being diet-devastating.
- 3 cups butternut squash, cut in ¾ inch chunks
- 1 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons mayo
- ⅔ cup Parmesan, grated (or strong cheddar)
- ⅓ cup Panko
- Pepper, to taste
Directions: Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8-inch baking dish, round or square. In a medium pot, cover squash with cold water, place a lid on top, and bring to a boil over high heat. When boiling, reduce heat so that the water just simmers, and cook squash for about 15 minutes or until tender. Rinse under cold water; drain.
Heat olive oil in a nonstick pan and add onions. Sauté on medium heat, stirring often, until softened. Set aside to cool slightly. In a medium bowl, beat together egg, salt, and mayonnaise. Add ⅓ cup of Parmesan, panko, sautéed onion, and squash, and fold together gently to combine. Season with pepper and more salt, if needed. Spoon into prepared baking dish and top with remaining ⅓ cup of cheese. Bake 1 hour or until heated through and cheese is slightly browned. Serve hot.
5. Mashed Sweet Potatoes With Greek Yogurt
Instead of making the classic casserole, consider lightening up your side dish a bit by making these Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Greek Yogurt from Food & Wine instead. The superfood is mashed and mixed with brown sugar and maple syrup, and then it gets a dollop of Greek yogurt to aid in its creaminess. Everyone is sure to love this sweet and colorful dish if you serve it at Thanksgiving, and no one even has to know it’s healthy.
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
Directions: Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot and fill with cold water to cover. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain the sweet potatoes in a colander, shaking the colander to help remove excess water. Pour the potatoes into a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and Greek yogurt to the sweet potatoes. Mash to your desired texture and serve warm.
6. Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
Ending on a green note, we come to this Parmesan Roasted Broccoli recipe from Ina Garten. Once again, Parmesan is the key cheese that makes the healthy green vegetable shine, and garlic, pine leaves, and good seasonings also bring out the flavors in this healthy dish. If you don’t think you like broccoli, then you’ve never had it roasted, and Thanksgiving is the perfect time to prove to that there’s room for fiber and nutrition at even the most indulgent meals.
- 4 to 5 pounds broccoli
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- Olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
- ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons Julienned fresh basil leaves
Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. You should have about 8 cups of florets. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.
Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with 1½ tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan, and basil. Serve hot.