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Non-traditional Thanksgiving Sides

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By: Elizabeth Winslow
Non-traditional Thanksgiving Sides

When it comes to the holiday table, some things are sacrosanct: forks on the left, gravy in a boat, and your family's recipe for turkey. As much as we love tradition, the explorer in us wants to know why it's always the identical meal year after year. Getting too creative with the turkey might be a no-no, but mixing things up a little on the side is a great way to keep the holiday meal fresh and interesting. So, while some might call us heretics, we hereby grant you permission to live a little and try out something new this year.

A word of advice: Avoid outright insurrection by keeping your newly introduced and interesting side dishes in the same family as the traditional and expected. To get you started, we have some favorites to inspire.

  • Instead of limp and overcooked greens, give lemon pepper-spiked Zesty Stir Fried Brussels Sprouts a try. Refreshing and bright, this recipe will convert even those who profess to be Brussels sprouts-averse.
  • Stuffing is lovely, but Paella Salad is even better. Tender grains of rice marry exotic saffron for a side dish as beautiful as it is delicious. Even better, it can be made well in advance, travels well, and won't take up precious oven space pre-dinner.
  • Give marshmallows a rest with a Sweet Potato Pudding with Pecan Streusel Topping, which offers a pinch of tradition with a large dash of the unexpected.
  • Because no one's really in it for the turkey, try a side with some substance. Hearty, smoky, and a little sweet, Picadillo Stuffed Acorn Squash satisfies on multiple fronts.
  • Banish the boring green bean and simmer up a pot of Feijoada a Brasileira (Brazilian black beans) instead. This traditional Brazilian feast dish is all about the party. Who says you can't samba dance at Thanksgiving?
  • Instead of fighting over the last slice of pumpkin pie, make a family-size recipe of Pumpkin Bread Pudding. The recipe double, triples, or quadruples easily, but come to think of it, no matter how much you make, there might still be a fight over the last delectable morsels.

Elizabeth Winslow is a writer, food blogger, teacher, and entrepreneur in Austin, Texas. She is a regular contributor to Edible Austin and creates compelling content for brands both large and small. She has an M.A. in Literature from the University of Texas at San Antonio and teaches cooking classes with Kitchen Underground. Winslow + co.

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