T-Day with The83k: Side Dishes, Pt. 1 — veggies that can stand up to stuffing and pie

Check in with The83k all this month for more Thanksgiving tips and recipes

Please be patient with me, and with this post, readers — I realize that, when it comes to Thanksgiving, vegetables that aren’t mashed with cream and butter or worked into stuffing don’t usually get a lot of real estate on your plate. And given the sorry state of some goopy green bean casseroles or BRUSSELS SPROUTS BOILED TO DEATH, I don’t blame any of you.

But just because your goal this year is to finally eat more pie than your Uncle Andrew (who, suspiciously, got his medical marijuana card just in time for Thanksgiving, I mean, who are we kidding, glaucoma MY ASS) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make room for some delicious veggies at the table. And I know many of you are looking forward to some of the most delicious vegetable presentations you’ll feast on all year.

This post will NOT deal with potatoes — that’s a whole separate piece. But hopefully you can use this recipe round up to break up the gravy and stuffing parade with some vegetables that can deliver on flavor and fun, and can stand up to everything else you’re planning on serving, and shine.

  • Warm Brussels Sprout Salad With Bacon and Hazelnut Vinaigrette Recipezingy and decadent, thanks to sherry vinegar and bacon fat, incorporated into the vinaigrette

  • Roasted Broccolinithe tender stems and looser clusters of broccolini, when roasted after tossing in olive oil, get charred and crispy, while the interior gets sweeter. Extremely simple, and can be fired while the turkey is cooling.

  • SauerkrautI had a few people mention to me that this was a thing at their Thanksgivings (thanks, Megan!) and it totally makes sense. Cranberry sauce (oh, friends, WAIT UNTIL WE TALK ABOUT CRANBERRIES) with its layers of tartness and sweetness, is an ideal foil for the fat and leadenness of most T-Day meals, and sauerkraut delivers the same, even though its sweetness is usually supplanted by the crunch and funk provided by fermentation.

  • Radish Kimchi — if you thought sauerkraut was a pleasantly funky palate-resetter, HOO BUDDY. (This stuff isn’t exactly STINKY, but it’s not subtle. If you have guests with chickenshit tastebuds, maybe stick to the sauerkraut. But if your crew can hang, YESSSSSSSSSSSS.)

  • Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan and Pine Nutsexcept for pesto and some salads, I don’t think Americans cook with pine nuts often enough — though that’s understandable, given their cost. I think Thanksgiving is a grand enough occasion to give them a place to shine, and they will, especially in this dish, where they hang out with their good friend parm, adding layers of salt and crunch to this umami face-punch.

  • Herb-Roasted Acorn Squash with Queso Fresco and Pomegranateif you’re anything like me, you’re gonna roast a lot of squash in your life — and there’s only so much you can do with brown sugar and butter. The little pops of sweet pomegranate arils, and the tang of the fresh cheese? C’mon, buddy.

  • Harvard Beets — The83k friend Ficus recommended these, and so do I — they’re texturally more interesting than your standard roast beet, and a sibling to what cranberry sauce and sauerkraut will do at your Thanksgiving table, with their added sugar and cider vinegar.

  • “Tandoori” Carrots with Vadouvan Spice and Yogurtthis roast carrot dish features vadouvan, a stupendous spice mix from India, with French influences. You can make this in advance except for the last step, and reheat on site, adding the yogurt mixture, herbs and oil when serving.

  • Lemon Grilled Leeks with Crispy PankoWHY THE FORK AREN’T WE EATING MORE LEEKS ALL THE TIME? They’re tremendous when roasted or grilled — and, depending on what’s free in your kitchen or on your deck, they’ll taste great cooked either way. Can definitely be fired while the turkey is cooling. Boil step and prep can be done ahead of cooking.

More T-Day guides to come, friends!

— Theo

P.S. — Here’s the most recent T-Day post — about alternative turkey-prep methods, without an oven.

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