Each year when November rolls around once more and Thanksgiving makes its way onto the horizon what do we think of? There are the warm moments spent amongst friends and family just when the weather starts to get cold. There is the time we spend laughing while deep in conversation about all this year’s stories. And then there is the food. It truly is the driving force behind the holidays that can bring everyone together from near and far. As we gather around the table for this year’s Thanksgiving meal, we expect to see all the same dishes that we know and love. These familiar recipes are undoubtedly great, but why pass up an opportunity to impress our families with a new dish that will make the occasion all the more memorable? Each of these sides has a twist on classic holiday food that could have your family raving about it for years to come. They won’t even know what they’re missing until you bring them one of these recipes!
Cranberry Whipped Feta Dip
Every good celebration needs an appetizer, and Thanksgiving is no different. This dip puts a unique twist on cranberry sauce that has been known to win over even some of the most staunch cranberry haters! Its flavor is slightly sweet with notes of citrus that balance well with the tart cranberries, and the whipped texture of the cheese is perfect for spreading on crackers. It’s definitely worth making this recipe for the holidays or your next dinner party even if only to watch your guests’ surprise and delight as they try this unexpected app.
- 1 cup cranberries
- ⅓ cup fresh orange juice
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 sprig and 2 tsp thyme leaves
- 6 oz feta in brine
- 6 oz cream cheese (softened)
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp chopped nuts
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- Roasted cashews or pistachios for topping
- Crackers or crostini for serving
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine orange juice and 1 tbsp honey, then bring to a boil. Add in 1 thyme sprig and cranberries, then continue to boil on medium-low heat until the cranberries burst and the sauce begins to thicken. Remove the thyme sprig, stir in orange zest and let cool.
In a food processor, pulse feta, garlic, red pepper, and 2 tsp thyme leaves until crumbly. Then add cream cheese and pulse until combined. While blending, drizzle in oil and continue blending until the mixture becomes smooth.
Transfer the whipped cheese to a serving bowl, drizzling it with the remaining tablespoon of honey. Top with the cooled cranberry sauce and chopped nuts (pistachios or roasted cashews are both great options) then serve with crackers or crostini.
Texas Potato Rolls
This variation on your classic dinner roll incorporates potato into the dough, allowing the bread to hold in more moisture. This effectively creates a softer bread that is less prone to drying out. To elevate your rolls even further and add a little bit of Texas flair, add some cheddar cheese and chopped jalapenos to the mix. Buttery, spicy, cheesy; If Texas could be distilled into a flavor, I’m certain it would be some combination of the three. If spicy isn’t your favorite don’t worry, this recipe will turn out just as good if you choose to leave out the cheese and peppers. When opting for the cheesy option, the rolls tend to flatten out more as they bake due to the extra oils, but this can be countered by baking them close together in a pan with higher walls.
- 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (1 envelope)
- ¼ cup warm water
- 1 cup milk
- 1 medium-large russet potato
- 2-5 Jalapenos
- ½ pound sharp cheddar (very cold)
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- 4-5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp melted butter (for brushing)
Proof the yeast in a large bowl by dissolving it in the warm water, adding sugar, and allowing it to sit at room temp for the duration of step 2.
Peel, then slice the potato in quarters and boil in a pot of water until fork tender (about 10-15 minutes).
In a heat proof bowl, mash the boiled potato, then add milk and 4 tbsp butter. Microwave on full power for 30-60 seconds until the butter is melted and the milk is warm, but not hot.
Stir the egg and the milk mixture into the proofed yeast. Add in grated cheese and chopped jalapenos.
Gradually add flour ¼ cup at a time until a soft dough forms that pulls away from the sides of the bowl (about 4-5 cups).
Knead the dough until the texture becomes smooth and elastic (about 5-10 minutes).
Place the dough into a well oiled bowl and let rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size. Alternatively, place in the fridge and let rise overnight.
After the first rise, separate the dough, rolling it into palm-sized balls. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and cover with oiled plastic wrap to let rise for another 30-60 minutes until their size has doubled. During the second rise, preheat the oven to 400 F.
Top with additional shredded cheddar and bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter.
Haricots Verts Almondine
This easy French recipe is a great alternative to the popular green bean casserole. The key to cooking this dish is to use fresh beans that will stay crisp when sautéed. The toasted almonds provide a texture that pairs well with the vegetables and gives the dish a nutty aroma. A short 15 minutes is all it takes to cook this recipe, making it a great option any time you need to throw together a quick side dish.
- 16 oz French green beans (trimmed)
- 2 shallots (diced)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- ⅓ cup raw sliced almonds
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- Zest of one lemon
- Juice of half a lemon
- Salt and pepper
Heavily salt a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Prepare a separate large bowl of ice water which will be used to stop the cooking of the beans before they become overdone.
Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook for 4-5 minutes, after which, scoop one bean out of the pot and place it in the ice water to halt the cooking process. It should be tender, but still hold its shape without bending. Once the beans have reached this point, remove them from the boiling water, plunging them into the prepared ice bath.
While the beans are boiling, place butter in a large pan over medium-low heat until melted and slightly bubbling. Add in almonds, stirring frequently until they reach a golden brown color. Then reduce heat to low, adding in garlic and shallots, and continuing to cook until lightly caramelized.
Remove the cooked beans from the ice bath, adding them to the pan. Toss to combine with the almond mixture and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the lemon zest and juice, cooking for an additional 1-2 minutes.
Toss once more with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
Potatoes au Gratin
We always expect to have some type of potatoes at Thanksgiving, and for most of us, mashed is the most common variety. It might surprise you that with about the same level of effort, you can make a potato dish that nobody will expect or be able to get enough of. This Potatoes au Gratin recipe is as simple as it is delicious; thinly sliced potatoes cooked in cheese sauce will never disappoint and they may even become a new family favorite!
- 2 ½ pounds yukon gold potatoes
- ½ pound sharp cheddar (freshly grated)
- ¼ pound gruyere (freshly grated)
- 2 shallots
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 cups milk
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp flour
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 sprig rosemary
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Slice potatoes and shallots into discs as thin as possible. Using a mandolin makes this process much faster.
Layer the sliced shallots and potatoes in a stack together and place it on its side in a greased oven safe dish of at least 2.5 quarts in size.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then add flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary, followed by the milk and whisk until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the grated cheese until melted.
Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the layered potatoes and shallots, cover with foil (sprayed with cooking oil to reduce sticking) and bake for 1 hour.
Remove foil and bake an additional 20-30 minutes until lightly browned and the potatoes are tender.
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