Creative Recipes for Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Yes, yes, we all must have cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving. But, come on, isn’t it time to update that recipe—and others?

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With all due respect to Grandma and tradition, that green-bean casserole recipe from the 1950s has gotten a bit tired. This year, give thanks for new ideas and serve one of these side dishes at your Turkey Day table. 

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‘Creamless’ Creamed Spinach

(Recipe courtesy Benjamin Steak House)
(Serves 8)

A no-cream creamed spinach? “Instead of using cream, we make a roux,” says Arturo McLeod, executive chef at and co-owner of Benjamin Steak House. “We put a bit of butter in to make the roux. It’s still creamy and rich but less fattening. It even looks better than regular creamed spinach. It is all green and looks very healthy.”

3 Tbsp of clarified butter
1 Tbsp of flour
5-lb bag of frozen chopped spinach
3 Tbsp of chicken base
salt and white pepper to taste

To create the roux, place the butter in a heavy saucepan and melt slowly over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Skim the foam from the top and slowly pour butter into a container, discarding the milky solids in the bottom of pan. Add the flour and stir in quickly to allow the clarified butter to thicken into roux.  
Add spinach to a pot of boiling water. Bring back to a boil. After 7 to 10 minutes of boiling, drain the spinach, reserving two cups of the boiling water in another pot.
Add chicken base, salt, and white pepper to the two cups of reserved water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the flame, and stir in roux to thicken.
Combine this mixture with the spinach and stir before serving.

Green Beans al Ajillo

(Recipe courtesy of Havana Central)
(Serves 8)

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Havana’s Chef Stanley Licairac says, “The garlic and Parmesan cheese give this dish a bit more of a bite than the usual green-bean recipe. The flavors in the green beans really come out.”

2 lbs fresh green beans
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
8 Tbsp white wine (Chablis)
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
6 garlic cloves, sliced
2â…” Tbsp butter
8 Tbsp vegetable stock

Blanch the green beans in a large pot of boiling, salted water for just 4 to 5 minutes. Drain immediately and immerse in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. When cool, drain and set aside.  
In a medium saucepan add oil and wait until hot. Add green beans. Cook until beans start to wilt. Add white wine and burn off. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 2 minutes or until sauce reduces.


Cranberry Orange Mojo

(Recipe courtesy of Havana Central)
(serves 4-6)

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Cranberry sauce typically is either too tart or too sweet. “With this Cuban-inspired version, you are getting tartness, a little sweetness, and a little citrus,” says Chef Stanley Licairac. “Pair it with apple-chorizo stuffing for the perfect combination.”

1½ cups cranberries, fresh
½ cup brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
¼ cup orange juice, fresh
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp garlic, minced
pinch of salt
pinch of cumin
½ tsp oregano
¼ cup onion, yellow Spanish
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Simmer cranberries, brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, and orange juice together until mixture starts to reduce. Add oil, garlic, salt, cumin, oregano, onion, and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly and continue to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes (if cranberry orange mojo is too tart, add 2 to 3 more tablespoons of brown sugar and mix until dissolved). Let cool and refrigerate in airtight container until ready to use. Remove cinnamon sticks before serving.

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