The Thanksgiving turkey tends to take the glory. But what truly creates a splendid Thanksgiving meal are the extravagant side dishes. It is easy to overfill our plates with these eye-catching, mouth-watering sides. And, as a result, they tend to leave us feeling guiltily full. A meal that is supposed to be enjoyed and shared among friends and family turns into a feast of overstuffed and uncomfortable guests.
In an attempt to save the Thanksgiving meal from the "I overdid it" syndrome, I have compiled a list of five light and healthy side dish recipes. Keep in mind that despite being healthy and nutritious, these side dishes still have calories. So, what it truly boils down to is this: don't over-stuff your plate, and you won't become over-stuffed!
Recipe #1: Broccoli, Shiitake and Red Onion Roast
- ACTIVE: 25 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 45 MIN
- SERVINGS: 6
- One 1 1/4-pound head of broccoli
- 1/2 pound large shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded
- 1 small red onion, sliced crosswise 1/3 inch thick
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 425°. Trim and peel the broccoli stems. Cut the broccoli lengthwise into long stalks, with 1 or 2 florets each. Cut any remaining florets into 2-inch pieces. Spread the broccoli on a large, rimmed baking sheet. On another large, rimmed baking sheet, put the shiitake on one side and the onion slices on the other. Generously brush all the vegetables with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for about 20 minutes, until just tender and lightly browned. Transfer the broccoli to a platter. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the mushrooms and onion rings and stir to coat the vegetables. Top the broccoli with the shiitake and onion and serve.
Recipe #2: Potato Gratin and Herbs
- ACTIVE: 30 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 2 HRS
- SERVINGS: 8
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the cake pan
- 1 large shallot, minced (about 1/3 cup)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 pounds medium red potatoes, very thinly sliced
- Freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 400° and oil an 8-inch round cake pan, preferably of dark metal. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and oil the paper.
- In a medium saucepan, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the shallot, cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened (about 3 minutes). Add the thyme and rosemary and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 10 minutes.
- Arrange an overlapping layer of potato slices in the cake pan. Season lightly with salt and pepper and spoon a small amount of the reduced broth on top. Repeat the layering with the remaining potatoes and reduced broth, seasoning each layer lightly. Pour any remaining broth on top. Cover the pan with a sheet of oiled parchment paper and then a sheet of foil.
- Bake the gratin in the center of the oven until the potatoes are very tender, about 1 hour. Remove the foil and paper and bake until the top is dry, about 10 minutes longer.
- Turn the broiler on. Remove the gratin from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Invert the gratin onto a heatproof plate. Carefully remove the parchment round. Broil the gratin 6 inches from the heat until the surface is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.
Recipe #3: Brown rice salad with cranberries, walnuts, mint and feta
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 1/2 cups short-grain brown rice
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
- 3 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- In a large sauce pan, sauté shallot in 2 tablespoons of oil over moderate heat until softened, about three minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the stock, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the broth is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
- Preheat the oven to 350º. Spread the walnuts on a small baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Roughly chop.
- Combine rice with remaining tablespoon of olive oil, red wine vinegar, walnuts, cranberries, mint, and feta.
*You can substitute some of the ingredients for cheaper options!
Happy cooking and Happy Thanksgiving!