New Ideas for Holiday Vegetable Dishes

At Thanksgiving, we tend to stick to the classics for our side dishes like green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. These side dishes are expected at the table for a Thanksgiving dinner but it doesn't hurt to excite your guests with a new, unexpected side dish, especially a healthy vegetable option. Most holiday vegetables are drenched in butter, cheese, or cream of mushroom soup, so how about offering something a bit cleaner and healthier to offset those rich, calorie-overloaded dishes. Try any of these vegetable recipes to give your guest something out of the ordinary.

1. Parmesan Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower

1 bunch of broccoli, separated into bite sized spears

1 head of cauliflower, separated into bite sized spears

3 garlic cloves, sliced

Extra virgin olive oil (ap

proximately 1/4 cup)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs-larger than traditional bread crumbs)

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Toss the broccoli and cauliflower spears in a virgin olive oil, sea salt, freshly gro

und black pepper, sliced garlic, 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs, and a 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Roast in the oven for 30 m

inutes at 350 degrees on a large baking sheet.

2. Acorn Squash with Orange Marmalade (This recipe is a spin on my mother's acorn squash.)

2-3 acorn squash, each squash cut into 4 pieces with the seeds removed (Portion 1-2 servings for each guest)

3 tbsp salted butter

1/3 cup Orange Marmalade

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg, fresh grated

1/8 tsp allspice

Fresh Orange Zest

Carefully cut each acorn squash into four equal segments. Remove the seeds from the center. In a bowl, combine the butter, marmalade and spices. Place the squash on a large baking sheet or glass casserole pan and spray with cooking spray. Spoon the marmalade mixture on top of each squash segment. With a zester, micro-plane, or grater, zest a small amount of fresh orange peel. Use only the dark orange-colored skin from a cleaned orange. Don't zest so hard that you get down to the white part of the orange just the very outer skin.

Bake the acorn squash at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, until the squash is tender all the way through.

3. Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic with Torn Basil

1 lb cherry tomatoes

3 garlic cloves, slices

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fresh torn basil

Place the cherry tomatoes and garlic on a large baking sheet. Toss the tomatoes and garlic in olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve in a large bowl topped with fresh torn basil.

4. Simple Swiss chard

1-2 large bunches of Swiss chard (Rainbow variety for the most colorful), washed and largely chopped

1 large red onion, cut in half and make long slices

2 garlic cloves, grated or minced

Extra virgin olive oil

Dash of crushed red pepper

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large sauté pan, heat a liberal drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a dash of crushed red pepper. Add the sliced red onion, salt and pepper to the hot pan. Sauté until slightly caramelized (when the onions get a slight caramel color and have cooked down). Next add in half of the Swiss chard and season with a dash of salt and pepper. Using tongs, move the chard around and incorporate with the onions and olive oil. Once cooked down a bit about 2-3 minutes, then add the remaining Swiss chard and the garlic. Sauté the chard for another 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

5. Root Vegetable Roast

2 cups turnips, peeled and largely diced into cubes (about 2-3 turnips)

2 cups rutabaga, peeled and largely diced into cubes (about 3-4 rutabaga)

2 cups carrots, cut into large slices

1 large Vidalia or yellow onion, largely diced

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Extra virgin olive oil (approximately a 1/4 cup)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sprig of thyme

2 dried bay leaves

In a large roasting or casserole dish, combine all ingredients with the olive oil. Place the thyme sprig on the top of the dish. Push the bay leaves down into the vegetables. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Remove the thyme sprig and the bay leaves. Serve hot.

6. Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

16 oz. Brussels sprouts, each cut in half (trim off the bottom of the sprout and any dirty outer leaves)

1/4-1/3 lb of pancetta, diced

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

On a large baking sheet, toss all ingredients well. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-45 minutes.

7. Gorgonzola Cauliflower Mash

1 large cauliflower head, cored

3 cups chicken stock or broth

1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese

1/4 cup light sour cream or plain yogurt

1 tbsp granulated garlic

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot, add the chicken stock and the head of cauliflower, core side down. Cover and bring to a boil, boil until the cauliflower is fork tender, approximately 15-20 minutes. Drain the stock from the pot into a colander that is placed inside of a large bowl. This way you can save the stock to add back to the cauliflower but you have control over how much.

Place the cauliflower back into the large pot, ladle in the desired amount of chicken stock (usually about 1-1 1/2 cups). Mash the cauliflower until the cauliflower almost looked like mashed potatoes. Add the Gorgonzola cheese, sour cream, garlic, salt and pepper.

8. Roasted Beets with Feta and Pine Nuts

1 lb beets, cleaned with stems removed

Extra virgin olive oil

1 cup feta cheese

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted (toast stove top in a dry pan for about 6-8 minutes)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 green onions, diced

On a large baking sheet, toss the beets (skin-on) with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Roast the beets in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until the beets are tender. Remove from oven and let the beets cool down. Rub each beet gently with a kitchen towel to remove the skins. Once all skins are removed, slice the beets in half and then cut large slices. Toss the beet slices with feta cheese, toasted pine nuts, and green onion. Also, add more olive oil, salt and pepper if needed. Serve at room temperature.

9. Fennel with Baby Spinach and Romano Cheese

3-4 large fennel bulbs, cut each bulb in half and thinly slice each half (Remove the long stalks and feathery green ends. When each bulb is cut in half, remove the tough core.)

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups baby spinach

1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated

On a large baking sheet, toss the sliced fennel well with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes in the oven, toss the fennel around with tongs. After 30 minutes, the fennel should be tender and caramelized.

Transfer the roasted fennel into a large bowl adding the spinach and Pecorino Romano cheese. Toss well and serve.

10. Sautéed Seasonal Mushrooms with Herbs

1 lb seasonal mushrooms (Wipe off any dirt with a dry kitchen towel. Cut only the larger mushrooms in half.)

Extra virgin olive oil

Splash of dry white wine

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp Sage, chopped

2 tbsp Parsley, chopped

2 tbsp Chives, chopped

In a large sauté pan, add a liberal drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on medium to high heat. Add all of the mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes. Next, add the white wine, salt and pepper. Sauté for another 5-7 minutes. In a bowl, add the mushrooms and herbs, and toss well.

Offer any of these simple and delicious side dishes for any holiday meal to bring something new to your guests' plates.

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