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Thanksgiving will be a smaller holiday this year but you can still serve a variety of vegetable side dishes to make the meal feel special

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Vegetables are the stars on our plates as we eat less meat. Especially at Thanksgiving I always offer a variety of veggie side dishes to appeal to everyone’s tastes. Although the holiday this year will be a smaller affair for many people with physical isolation, you can still make the meal feel special. This year at my home we’ll be eating capon, which easily serves four, instead of turkey, and I’ll still serve a few vegetable dishes.

Here are some of my favourite recipes for Thanksgiving sides that you’ll want to keep making this fall. Best of all, many can be prepared ahead of time and reheated for the big meal, and they can easily be halved for smaller groups.

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Old-fashioned roast potatoes | Rutabaga and pancetta hash | Beet and chard ragout | Shredded Brussels sprouts with pine nuts and proscuitto | Squash brulee | Hot sweet potatoes | Sicilian cauliflower with anchovies | Green beans with pistachios | Roasted cabbage | Pan-roasted parsnips, carrots, Brussels sprouts and garlic

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Old-fashioned roast potatoes

Serves 4

Crisp on the outside and fluffy inside, these potatoes are wonderful with roasts and grilled meats. Best to use Yukon Gold or russets.

  • 2 lb. large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, chicken or beef fat
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut potatoes in half then cut each half into thirds. Place in a pot and cover with cold salted water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 7 minutes. Drain water and place pot back on burner. Shake pot to rough up surface of potatoes to give them crunchy edges. If they don’t rough up enough, use a fork to give them some ridges. Toss with olive oil or fat and season with salt and pepper. Place in one layer on a baking pan or cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, turning occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through.


  • Use red potatoes for a creamier texture.
  • Season potatoes with Indian spice mixture before roasting.
  • Place herbs such as sage or rosemary sprigs over potatoes before baking.

Rutabaga and pancetta hash

Serves 4

You can grate turnips with a food processor or use the large holes on a box grater.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 ounces pancetta, slivered
  • 1 cup sliced onions
  • 8 cups peeled and grated rutabaga (about 2 pounds)
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and sauté for 2 minutes or until fat starts to melt. Add onions and sauté for 2 minutes more or until softened. Add rutabaga and cook, tossing, for 6 minutes or until tinged with brown on the edges.

Add chicken stock and rosemary, cover skillet and cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until rutabaga is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with chives.

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Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail

Beet and chard ragout

Serves 4 to 6

Beets are everywhere at this time of year. Use golden or red beets, but the latter will stain the other vegetables.

  • 2 lbs. beets, stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1 large bunch chard or kale, stems and thick centre rib removed, sliced into ribbons
  • 1 cup crumbled feta

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).

Place beets in a baking dish with about 1/2 cup water. Cover with foil and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until tender. Let sit until cool enough to handle.

Peel beets, cutting them in half or quarters, if needed. Toss with balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Reserve.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and chard and toss together until chard is wilted. Combine with beets and sprinkle with goat cheese.

If making in advance, don’t add the cheese. Reheat the vegetables in a skillet or 350F oven. Add goat cheese right before serving.

Shredded Brussels sprouts with pine nuts and prosciutto

Serves 4

Shredding Brussels sprouts gives them a whole new look and texture. You can use a small mandolin if you have one. Try different nuts, and if you prefer it meatless use shallots instead of prosciutto for extra flavour.

  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 slices prosciutto, chopped
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Remove root end and core from Brussels sprouts, cut in half and thinly slice.

Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high. Add prosciutto. Sauté until the meat begins to crisp. Add Brussels sprouts and sauté for 3 minutes. Cover pan and cook 2 minutes longer or until crisp-tender.

Toss in pine nuts, sauté 1 minute and season with salt and pepper.

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Squash brûlée

Serves 4

This dish looks like crème brûlée and has an outstanding texture and flavour. It also works with sweet potatoes. Make ahead and broil the sugar topping just before serving.

  • 2 lbs. acorn or butternut squash, peeled and diced (or 1 lb. if you buy it already prepared)
  • 2 cups chicken stock or water
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375F.

Place squash and stock in a pot on high heat. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes or until squash is tender.

Drain squash and mash with a potato masher or fork. Mix in nutmeg, salt, pepper, egg, whipping cream and Parmesan. Place in a medium ovenproof baking dish. Dot with butter.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the squash is hot. Sift brown sugar on top and place under broiler. Broil, watching constantly, until sugar bubbles and turns golden, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Hot sweet potatoes

Serves 4

I use gochujang, Korean hot sauce, as it is mellower and a bit sweeter than other hot sauces. If you use sriracha, add a teaspoon of sugar. Prepare ahead and reheat in the microwave or in the oven.

  • 2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 400F. Dice potatoes into 1-inch chunks.

Combine hot sauce, oil, ginger and maple syrup in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss sweet potatoes with hot sauce mixture. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes, then turn and bake another 15 to 20 minutes or until cubes are soft. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Sicilian cauliflower with anchovies

Serves 4

Toss together this addictive cauliflower with pasta for a quick meal. To prepare ahead of time, cook the cauliflower and prepare the spiced sauce, then mix together when cool and reheat when needed.

  • 1 medium-size head of cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sliced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons anchovies, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon capers

Cut cauliflower into florets. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add cauliflower and boil 3 to 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain well and refresh with cold water to prevent overcooking.

Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium-low heat. Add garlic, anchovies, chili flakes and capers. Cook until flavours meld and garlic is softened, about 3 minutes. Add cauliflower to skillet and toss until well-coated and hot.

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Green beans with pistachios

Serves 8

Use pecans or almonds instead of pistachios if desired.

  • 1 pound green beans, topped and tailed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, shells removed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Place green beans in a large pot of boiling water and boil 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and refresh with cold water to keep from overcooking.

Heat butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add pistachios and sauté for 1 minute. Add beans and sauté until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with lemon juice.

Roasted cabbage

Serves 4 to 6

Roasting always improves the taste of vegetables. If cabbage is the new kale, this recipe will quickly become a favourite.

  • 1 head Savoy cabbage, about 2 lbs.
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400F.

Slice cabbage in quarters, then cut each quarter in half. Toss with 3 tablespoons oil. Season well with salt, pepper, and caraway seeds. Lay on an oil-brushed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until tender, turning once. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 350F.

Remove core from cabbage pieces and discard. Slice cabbage into ½-inch strips and transfer to a large bowl. Whisk mustard with cream then toss with cabbage. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a gratin dish.

Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add bread crumbs and toast, stirring until golden, 3 to 4 more minutes. Sprinkle over cabbage. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and tender.

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Pan-roasted parsnips, carrots, Brussels sprouts and garlic

Serves 4

Since everything cooks together you can make this ahead of time and reheat in the oven at 350F for 15 minutes or until hot.

  • 8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 250 grams parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 250 grams carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 250 grams Brussels sprouts, cleaned and halved
  • 2 tablespoons slivered sage leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Place garlic cloves in a small pot of water and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute then drain. Remove skins.

Heat butter in a large sauté pan. Add parsnips and carrots and sauté for 4 minutes or until they begin to turn golden. Stir in Brussels sprouts, garlic and sage. Season with salt and pepper. Cover pan and turn heat to medium-low. Cook, shaking pan occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Remove cover and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes or until vegetables are deep golden.

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