Four Thanksgiving Sides With a Twist

sweet-potato.jpgToday, Jules shares four recipes to put a fresh spin on traditional Thanksgiving vegetables:

As our household chef, every year for Thanksgiving I love cooking my family's favorite classic dishes, and I also love getting creative with traditional ingredients. Here are four side dishes that I've whipped up, all using classic vegetables, but with a fresh presentation. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Sweet Potato Pancakes
Serves 8-10

I have tried whipped sweet potatoes, sweet potato medallions, baked sweet potatoes -- you name it. This year, I'm breaking the mold and serving my sweet potatoes in pancake form. Perfect for Thanksgiving or as an addition or alternative to the classic potato latke for Hanukkah.

  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup cooked sweet potatoes
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    Mix butter, potatoes, and egg until well combined. Mix in all remaining ingredients -- the batter should have the consistency of a thick or lumpy sauce. Heat a well buttered skillet and cook pancakes on each side about 2 minutes. When small bubbles form on the top of the pancake and break, it is time to flip. Serve warm or keep in warm oven until serving time.

    Orange and Honey Glazed Carrots

    I find that colorful veggies are essential in balancing off the turkey, stuffing, and other holiday goodies. This carrot dish will offer the perfect kick to balance out a salty turkey and a bitter green.


  • 5 cups baby carrots, cut on a bias
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
  • 1 heaping teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts or macadamia nuts + chives
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    In a large saucepan filled with about an inch of salted water, combine butter, honey, and ginger. Bring the mixture to a simmer and add the cut carrots. Cover and allow to cook for about 5 minutes. Uncover and stir until carrots are well coated. Add orange zest and juice and allow to cook about 10 minutes more or until carrots are fork tender (but not mush). Test for seasoning and add salt, pepper, or more ginger if needed. Before serving, top with chopped hazelnuts or macadamia nuts and very finely diced chives.

    Dijon Haricots Verts
    Serves 6-8

    I love the traditional/terrible-for-you green bean casserole with fried onions and creamy mushroom soup. Last year, I successfully created a dish that included all of the same earthy flavors and creaminess but left out the fat. This year, I'm taking a left turn with a different palette of flavors.


  • 2 pounds haricots verts (green beans)
  • 1.5 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 pound of bacon, diced and cooked
  • 1 small red onion, sliced thinly
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    Toss green beans and halved tomatoes gently with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place under broiler for about 5-8 minutes until they begin to color. Remove from oven. Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, oil, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper in a bowl until emulsified. I like to warm the dressing quickly in a saucepan before service but that is optional. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and toss until well combined. Top with Parmesan cheese. If not serving immediately, this can stay in a warm oven for some time, but be careful that the green beans do not lose their color and texture!

    Spinach and Mushroom Puff Pastry
    Servings vary depending on size of pastry squares

    This is a bit out of the box as a side dish but who doesn't love little food bundles? Puff pastry is not as daunting as you might think -- it can be purchased in any regular grocery store in the frozen section. Be sure to follow instructions for thawing and use on the back of box. Begin with the dough thawed.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cups wild mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • Small pinch of nutmeg.
  • 1/3 cup cream cheese (light is fine)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    Heat oil and butter in saucepan until warm (not hot). Saute garlic and onion until tender. Add mushrooms and sauté. Add spinach and cook until it wilts. Add nutmeg. Remove from heat and stir in cream cheese until all ingredients are well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Cut pastry dough into squares (your choice on sizing). Put a lump of filling into the center and fold in half into triangles. Seal with water and press the edges with a fork. Follow manufacturer's baking instructions. Serve warm and directly out of the oven.

    Image credits: sweet potato by ONE; carrots and green beans by; spinach by UMass Agriculture;