by Michael Vyskocil, photography by Kelly Heck

Traditionally, turkey gets its place of fame on the Thanksgiving table. This year, make your side dishes the dinner menu standouts. On the following pages, you’ll find four Thanksgiving side dishes to wow your Thanksgiving dinner guests with minimal effort from you.

Broccoli and Cheese Puff

Broccoli-and-Cheese Puff

This version of the classic casserole replaces the spinach with broccoli for a satisfying side dish.

  • Unsalted butter, for baking dish
  • 1 large head broccoli, washed well
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups coarsely grated Gruyere cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a shallow 1-quart baking dish.
  2. In a steamer set over boiling water, steam broccoli until crisp-tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove broccoli from steamer; set aside to cool. Cut broccoli into florets.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine broccoli, heavy cream, eggs, 1 cup Gruyere, 1 teaspoon salt,
    ½ teaspoon pepper and cinnamon.
  4. Spread broccoli mixture into prepared baking dish; top with remaining Gruyere cheese. Bake until the mixture is set and the top is golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

Green Bean Casserole with Crisp Shallots

Green Bean Casserole with Crisp Shallots

A staple on dinner tables for decades, this recipe upgrades the familiar version with a homemade mushroom base and a topping of crisp-fried shallots.

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
  • 1 medium onion, ¼-inch diced
  • 1 pound button mushrooms, stems trimmed and quartered
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
  • 8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¾ cups milk
  • 1 ½ cups grated Gruyere cheese
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 5 shallots, cut crosswise into ¼-inch circles
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add onion and cook until onion begins to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, and cook until the mushrooms have begun to soften and most of the liquid in the skillet has evaporated, about 6 to 8 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Set skillet aside to cool.
  2. Prepare an ice bath and set aside. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add green beans, and cook until the beans turn a bright green color and are tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain beans and place them in ice water bath to stop the cooking. When the beans have cooled, toss them with the mushroom mixture and set aside.
  3. Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 4 tablespoons flour, and whisk until the flour mixture begins to turn a golden color, about 3 minutes. Add milk and continue whisking until the mixture thickens, about 4 minutes. Stir in remaining salt and pepper. Remove from heat, and let mixture cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Pour flour mixture over beans and toss to combine.
  4. Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Spread half of the green-bean mixture over the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle half of the Gruyere cheese over the top of the green-bean mixture and spread with the remaining green-bean mixture. Combine the remaining Gruyere cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle the cheese mixture over the top of the green-bean mixture. Cover baking dish with parchment-lined aluminum foil and refrigerate until just before serving.
  5. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Toss shallots with remaining 4 tablespoons flour. Transfer shallots to skillet and cook in batches, turning shallots frequently, until golden brown. Transfer shallots to baking sheet to drain. Set aside until ready to serve.
  6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Cook casserole, covered, until mixture is bubbling and heated through, about 10 to 12 minutes. Uncover, and cook until top turns a golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove casserole from oven, sprinkle with shallots and serve immediately. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Butter-Rum-Pecan Sweet Potatoes

Forget the marshmallows. These sweet potatoes are heavenly on their own with a butter, rum and brown sugar glaze.

  • 8 sweet potatoes (about 5 ½ pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • 4 tablespoons dark-brown sugar
  • ¼ cup dark rum
  • ½ cup chopped pecan pieces
  • Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Peel sweet potatoes and slice them crosswise into ½-inch-thick pieces. Divide potatoes between two baking sheets and spread them in a single layer on each baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over potatoes evenly; season with salt and toss to coat with oil.
  3. Transfer potatoes to oven and roast, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 35 minutes.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, stir together butter, dark-brown sugar, dark rum and pecans. With a pastry brush, brush butter mixture over potatoes and return potatoes to oven. Bake until the sugar begins to caramelize, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.

Sautéed Swiss Chard with Balsamic Drizzle

The stalks of the Swiss chard bring radiant colors and texture to this dish. To prepare the Swiss chard, remove the tough parts, then cut the stalks into pieces.

  • 2 ½ pounds red Swiss chard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Wash Swiss chard well. Remove tough parts of stems and cut stalks into ½-inch pieces
  2. In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add stalks; cook, stirring until stalks are slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Add half of the Swiss chard leaves; sprinkle with 1 ½ teaspoons sugar. Cover, and cook until the Swiss chard is wilted, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add remaining leaves; sprinkle with remaining sugar. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leaves are soft, about 10 to 11 minutes.
  5. Uncover and cook until all liquid in the Dutch oven is evaporated. Remove Swiss chard to a serving platter. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 8 servings.