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Healthier (and Easy!) Thanksgiving Side Dishes

November 22, 2019

Whether the main attraction on your Thanksgiving table is turkey or Tofurky, the wow factor really comes from creative side dishes. Yet some of the classics like green bean casserole or macaroni and cheese can have significantly amounts of fat, calories, and sodium. Sure, it’s fun to splurge for a special occasion, but if you or your dinner guests still want to eat healthier on Turkey Day, here are a couple of side dishes that are sure to please.

Green Bean Sauté (adapted from Colorado Collage)

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

2 T. butter (or Earth Balance for a vegan version)

1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced

½ tsp. salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 T. finely chopped parsley

1 T. balsamic vinegar

Cook green beans in rapidly boiling salted water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, immerse in ice water, drain again, and set aside. In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add reserved beans, salt, and pepper. Cook until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with parsley and vinegar and toss to combine.

Lemon Couscous with Fresh Spinach (adapted from Colorado Collage)

2¼ cups vegetable broth

¼ cup unsalted butter (or Earth Balance, for a vegan version)

1 10-ounce box uncooked couscous

3 T. fresh lemon juice

3 large green onions, thinly sliced

1 small bunch fresh spinach, washed, stemmed and thinly sliced

3 T. chopped fresh chives

In a medium saucepan, combine vegetable broth and butter. Heat to boiling. Stir in couscous. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with fork and stir in lemon juice, onions, spinach and chives. Serve hot or cold.

Creamless Potato Gratin with Herbs (adapted from Food & Wine)

1½ T. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the cake pan

1 large shallot, minced (about 1/3 cup)

1½ tsp. chopped fresh thyme

½ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley

2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

2 pounds medium Yukon gold or red potatoes, very thinly sliced


Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the 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 the 1½ tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the thyme, rosemary, and parsley and cook for 1 minute. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat until reduced to ¾ cup, about 10 minutes.

Arrange an overlapping layer of potato slices in the cake pan. Season with salt and pepper and spoon a small amount of the reduced broth on top. Repeat the layering process 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.

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.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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