3 Simple Sides for Thanksgiving

Cider-Roasted Fennel & Baby Carrots, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes,
Green Beans with Lemon-Shallot Butter

Thanksgiving is a small family gathering at our house, which is kind of nice. We don't have much in the way of extended family in town, so I don't feel the pressure to make Uncle Jack's favorite stuffing made with bags of salty, stale supermarket stuffing mix or Grandma's sweet potato casserole loaded with sticky, sweet marshmallows.

I know, this holiday is all about tradition. But those old family recipes sometimes need a little dusting - not to make them extra-fancy, more like paring them down to their basic, pure selves.

There really isn't much to preparing simple vegetable sides worthy of a place next to the turkey. I like to save the drama for the turkey, anyway. And that will be another story, for another day.

Cider-Roasted Fennel & Baby Carrots
serves 4

1 pound baby carrots, peeled
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, stems trimmed, sliced into 1/4-inch wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or use about 1/2 this amount of fine sea salt)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup apple cider

Toss the vegetables on a large, rimmed baking sheet with the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Pour the apple cider over and place in a 400-degree oven. Roast 25 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until the vegetables are caramelized and the cider is reduced to a syrupy glaze.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
serves 4

10 plump garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cups warm milk (reduced fat is fine)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Salt to taste

Place the garlic cloves on a large sheet of aluminum foil; drizzle with the oil and wrap into a package. Roast in a 400-degree oven about 20 minutes, until the garlic is very soft.

Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well; return to the saucepan and set over low heat. Mash in the butter and garlic with a potato masher or wooden spoon, mixing until the potatoes are smooth. Stir in 2 cups milk and season with more salt, if needed. Stir in more milk as needed to make a smooth puree.

Green Beans with Lemon-Shallot Butter
serves 4

3/4 pound green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the beans in a 10-inch skillet or saute pan. Add about 1/4 cup water and set over medium-high heat until the water starts to boil. Cover the pan and cook 5 minutes, or until beans are crisp-tender. Pour off any remaining water and return the pan over the heat; add the butter and shallot to the beans and cook until the beans are evenly coated with butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Grant said...

For me Thanksgiving is all about the sides. I especially love the cider roasted fennel and carrots. I just bought some fennel at the farmers market and was trying to find something to do with it. This sounds great. Thanks!

Dana said...

I am going to use your green bean recipe and quite possibly the garlic mashed potato one, too.
I also cannot stand marshmallows with sweet potatoes. It totally ruins it for me.

valentinA said...

Too bad we don't celebrate thanksgiving here! i can't wait to read yr post about yr turkey!

Kristen said...

Oh simple and delicious sides. These would be a great addition to any Turkey day dinner :)

Proud Italian Cook said...

I love the idea of changing them up a bit, unfortunatly my kids ae totally against it!!

Glenna said...

Mmmmmm....count me in on all three!

Emiline said...

They all sound so good...however, my family would freak out if we changed anything about our traditional meal. Bah!

I'm going to change up the pecan pie, and there's nothing they can do about it.

Mar said...

Those sides look perfect and simple.

In our house they're cream-laden and heavy. Not the most pleasant feeling the day after...