I love all the traditional sides that show up on the Thanksgiving table, even though, visually speaking, most of what’s served is similar in color and texture. Be that as it may, I can’t imagine serving scrumptious gravy without creamy mashed potatoes. And forgo the sweet potato casserole adorned with white marshmallows? Never.
If you add Aunt Marge’s creamed, green bean casserole with crispy onion rings, can you really leave out Mom’s bing cherry salad with sour cream? Forgive me, but I don’t think the turkey is the problem when it comes to getting stuffed, it’s the cream, butter and sugar in all the sides.
When given the assignment to suggest a couple of sides for Thanksgiving, I took this task quite seriously. I already caught some flack for my Southern Corn Chowder, steeped in bacon, cream and butter, so I was on a mission to suggest some sides that were more on the healthy side with a some crunch. Here is what I found:
- Green Beans with Toasted Walnuts and Dried Cherry Vinaigrette
- Southern Ambrosia (my personal favorite)
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup minced shallots
- 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sherry wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 1½ teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon black pepper plus additional (for sprinkling)
- ⅓ cup dried tart cherries
- 1½ pounds trimmed slender green beans (such as haricots verts)
- ½ cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
- Whisk first 6 ingredients and ½ teaspoon pepper in small bowl.
- Mix in dried cherries; set aside.
- DO AHEAD: Vinaigrette can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature; re-whisk before using.
- Fill large bowl with water and ice; set aside.
- Cook green beans in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain. Transfer to bowl with ice water; cool. Drain.
- DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in paper towels; enclose in resealable plastic bag and chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before continuing.
- Toss green beans, walnuts, and vinaigrette in large bowl.
- DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Transfer to platter and serve.
Southern Ambrosia (without the whipped cream).
My grandmother always served ambrosia for Thanksgiving. Rather than “doll” it up with marshmallows, maraschino cherries, bananas and nuts, she made a simple ambrosia. However, if you want to embellish your ambrosia, I suggest you consider adding fresh pomegranate seeds, mango and, for a bit of decadence, a dollop of whipped cream flavored with a splash of Cointreau.
- 4-5 red grapefruit, sectioned
- 7-8 oranges, sectioned
- 1 fresh pineapple, cut in bite sized pieces
- Coconut (in the bag, found in the freezer section)
- 1 lime
Mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate. Serve as a side or as an accompaniment on your dessert bar.