Thanksgiving Sides Can Make A Meal – Traditional & Otherwise

A traditional Thanksgiving spread
A traditional Thanksgiving spread
Thanksgiving is around the corner. Some love it. Others such as vegetarians bemoan “the turkey thing” every holiday season. Sides offer more choices and potentially more flavor. Normally, sides include turkey gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn bread, a vegetable of some unknown vintage, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

Last year the focus of attention in our family was to fry a turkey and roast another in the oven as well as a backup, along with the traditional sides. All attendees enjoyed the meal.
This year I thought it would be fun to create a variety of other choices that would appeal to many American palates. I have focused attention on Latin and Asian sides and a few wonderful traditional ones which have become favorites in our home during Thanksgiving and other times of year. Asian sides are increasingly popular in Japanese, Thai, Korean and Chinese cuisines. Local groceries carry supplies making it easier to pick and choose as we wish.

Hispanic cuisine is also easier than ever to prepare given the availability of supplies. Recently, I read that salsa has become even more popular and available than ketchup. And tortillas and Middle Eastern flat breads are no longer difficult to find. For example, I discovered that Whole Foods market carries Hatch Chiles. It’s ironic given that Hatch was almost considered a religious brand when I attended college in the Southwest because it was so highly regarded and rare to find outside of Albuquerque. Today we are fortunate to find them easily.

Here are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving Side Recipes below. Hope you like them too.

Tangy guacamole and chips
Tangy guacamole and chips

Tangy Guacamole And Chips


(Adapted from, Albuquerque. Also available in Whole Foods Markets nationwide)
Serves 2 to 4

4 oz chopped Hatch Green Chiles
2 whole avocados, mashed
1 tsp salt
1 small tomato, diced
½ tsp lemon juice or to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 container of large corn tortillas, cut into strips and heated in the oven at 350 F. for 15 minutes until firm but not burnt
¼ cup or less sour cream, optional

1. Mix all ingredients except for the sour cream with a whisk until smooth.

2. Cover and chill, allowing 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Remove from the refrigerator and allow 20 minutes to return to near room temperature.

3. Mix in a little sour cream for a smoother texture.

4. Serve the toasted tortilla chips in a nice large, festive bowl and enjoy your guacamole.


Turkey enchilada
Turkey enchilada

Turkey Enchilada Appetizers
(Adapted from )
Serves 8 to 10 as an appetizer

4 oz Hatch green chiles
15 oz Hatch red enchilada sauce
2 pounds turkey breast salted and peppered, and cooked at 350F for about 1 hour or until turkey reaches 165F, shredded with two forks
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
2 handfuls chopped fresh cilantro
12 organic corn tortillas
2 tbsp chopped sweet white onions
1 cup grated Jack cheese
1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
¼ cup chopped black olives
Nonstick canola cooking spray

1. In a large bowl mix the cooked turkey, ½ cup red enchilada sauce, 1 cup chopped green chiles, 1 cup lettuce and 1 cup cilantro. Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of the turkey mixture down the center of each tortilla.

2. Roll the tortillas. Spray the nonstick canola cooking spray onto a 9’x12’ baking dish. Place the tortilla, seam side down, in the dish. Cut each tortilla in half to provide guests with appetizer size tortillas.

3. Top the tortillas with remaining Red Enchilada Sauce, onions, tomato, olives, cheese and remaining cilantro. Bake at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes or until enchiladas are hot and bubbly. Use spatula and put hot enchiladas on the plates and garnish with cilantro. Serve warm or hot.


Traditional Korean kimchi
Traditional Korean kimchi

Traditional Korean Kimchi
(Adapted from article on Lunar New Year excerpted from Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee’s Eating Korean)
Yields: a one-gallon glass jar or four 1-quart jars.

1 cup plus 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
Water as needed
2 heads Napa cabbage, cut into quarters or 2-inch wedges, depending on size of cabbage
1 Daikon radish, peeled and grated
1 bunch green onions, cut into 1-inch lengths
TKTK mustard greens
1 bulb garlic, cloves separated and peeled
½ cup Korean chili powder
1 Tbsp salt
2-inch piece of ginger root
¼ cup fish sauce or Korean salted shrimp
1 tsp sugar (optional)
Sesame oil (optional)
Sesame seeds, toasted (optional)

1. Dissolve 1 cup salt in ½ gallon water. Soak cabbage in the salt water for 3 to 4 hours.

2. Combine garlic, ginger, and fish sauce or shrimp in food processor or blender until finely minced.

3. In large bowl, combine radish, green onions, mustard greens, garlic mixture, chili powder, 1 tablespoon salt and optional sugar. Toss this “radish mixture” gently but thoroughly. (If mixing with your hands, be sure to wear rubber gloves to avoid chili burn.)

4. Remove cabbage from water and rinse thoroughly. Drain cabbage in colander, squeezing as much water from the leaves as possible. Take cabbage and stuff radish mixture between leaves, working from outside in, starting with largest leaf to smallest. Do not overstuff, but make sure radish mixture adequately fills leaves. When entire cabbage is stuffed, take one of the larger leaves and wrap tightly around the rest of the cabbage. Divide cabbage among 4 (1-quart) jars or 1-gallon jar, pressing down firmly to remove any air bubbles.

5. Let sit for 2 to 3 days in a cool place before serving. Remove kimchi from jar and slice into 1-inch-length pieces. If serving before kimchi is fermented, sprinkle with a little bit of sesame oil and sesame seeds. Refrigerate after opening.

Kimchi will be good enough to eat straight for up to about 3 weeks. Date your container so you will not be surprised. After about 4 weeks, once the kimchi gets too fermented to eat by itself, use it to make hot pots, flatcakes, dumplings or just plain fried or plain basmati rice.


Szechuan-style green beans
Szechuan-style green beans

Szechuan-Style Green Beans
Serves 4 to 6

2 lb green beans, cleaned and tips trimmed
4 Tbsp peanut oil
½ tsp dried chili flakes
½ tsp chili oil
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
½ cup sauvignon blanc
1 Tbsp minced garlic
4 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp lime juice
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
¼ cup green onions, chopped

1. Clean and trim green beans, by snipping off ends and running under cold water. Set to the side

2. In a large frying pan or wok over a medium flame, add oil. Then add green beans and mix to coat. Once all beans are coated in oil add chili flakes and chili oil.

3. Sauté for 5 minutes, add salt and black pepper. Continue to sauté for another 5 to 8 minutes. You’ll want some of the green beans to start to brown.

4. Add the sauvignon blanc. Mix well and continue the sauté for another 5 to 8 minutes. Then add garlic and soy sauce and lime juice.

5- Mix well and sauté for another minute or so. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion. Serve on a plate and Enjoy.

Roasted cauliflower and carrots
Roasted cauliflower and carrots

Roasted Cauliflower And Carrots
Serves 4 to 6

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
1 lb carrots, cut into 1-inch dice
1 Tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
½ tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp smoked paprika
Finely chopped fresh chives, for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 425F.

2. In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower and carrots and toss them generously with olive oil and salt. In a small bowl, combine the cumin and cayenne and add to the vegetables. Toss well to thoroughly combine.

3. Spread the veggies on a baking sheet in one even layer-use two baking sheets, if necessary. Roast 20 minutes, then stir the veggies so they have the chance to brown all over and rotate the pan to ensure even cooking. Roast another 20 minutes, then stir and rotate again.

4. Roast the vegetables for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until they are brown, tender and smell terrific. If they aren’t brown and blackened continue to roast for another few minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

5. Remove the veggies from the oven, sprinkle with chives and transfer to a serving dish. Serve immediately.


Spinach gratin
Spinach gratin

Spinach Gratin
(Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa)
Serves 6 to 8

Simple, easy to make and a wonderful Thanksgiving side dish made with defrosted frozen spinach which is just as good as fresh with the liquid squeezed out.

4 Tbsp (½ stick) unsalted butter
4 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large)
¼ cup flour
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups milk or heavy cream
3 pounds frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, 5 10-oz packages)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiana cheese
1 Tbsp kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup grated Gruyere cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 425F.

2. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 15 minutes.

3. Add the flour and nutmeg and cook, stirring for 2 more minutes.

4. Add the cream and milk and cook until thickened.

5. Defrost the spinach and squeeze as much liquid as possible from the spinach and add the spinach to the sauce.

6. Add ½ cup of the Parmesan cheese and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

7. Grate the Gruyere and add to the remaining ½ cup Parmesan and sprinkle over the top of the spinach.

8. Transfer the spinach to a baking dish and sprinkle the remaining ½ cup Parmesan and the Gruyere on top. Bake for 20 minutes until hot and bubbly. Serve hot.
Contact Chef Alan with questions or comments at


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