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16 Recipes for the Ultimate Thanksgiving Redux

Elena North-Kelly

November 09, 2017

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Struggling with whether to go classic or contemporary with this year's Thanksgiving menu? Our strategy: stick to all-American tradition with the turkey centerpiece (we recommend James Beard's go-to version) and get playful with the sides—which are, after all, really the best part about Thanksgiving dinner. Below, we've got 16 recipes that will breathe new life into your holiday spread. Mix and match, or make 'em all; you won't be sorry to have these standout dishes as leftovers. 

Appetizers 

Photo: Ed Anderson

Here's your chance to whet everyone's appetites and give guests a taste of what's to come. While an elegant cheese and crudité plate is always a good fallback, these little numbers will really show what you're made of. 

Black Butter–Balsamic Figs with Fonduta (pictured above)
At once rustic and elegant, these black mission figs from Beard Award–winning chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski of San Francisco's State Bird Provisions are seared tatin-style, flesh-side-down in a pan swirled with blackened butter, and then studded with thyme, sweet baslamic vinegar, and a creamy fonduta drizzle.

Smoked Deviled Eggs
A cocktail party mainstay, deviled eggs are a great vehicle for experimenting with flavors and textures. We love this elevated take on the classic canapé, adding smoke, acid, and a bit of porky indulgence for the perfect bite.

Root Vegetable Peel Chips
All those peels from the carrots, parsnips, and potatoes you painstakingly prepped for dinner? Reserve them for this crunchy, salty, and no-waste snack from Blue Hill's Beard Award–winning chef Dan Barber. 

Vegetable Sides 

Photo and Styling: Yewande Komolafe

There's no need for soggy Brussels sprouts or limp green bean casseroles: add some lightness to the table with one of these bright and healthy dishes.

Cauliflower with Sumac and Green Grape–Apple Vinaigrette (pictured above)
This cruciferous veg variation from Untitled at the Whitney's Suzanne Cupps is seared on the plancha, dusted with sumac, topped with herbs and walnuts, and served with a bright green-grape and apple vinaigrette. 

Carrot and Radicchio Salad
Steam-roasted carrots, raw and roasted ribbons of bitter radicchio, crunchy pistachios, and a tart fig dressing make for a stunning salad that delivers layers of flavor with every bite from Beard Award–winning website Food52.

Spaghetti Squash Cacio e Pepe
A riff on the classic Roman pasta, this simple recipe from chef Fortunato Nicotra at Lidia Bastianich's flagship restaurant Felidia pairs spicy cracked black pepper with a showering of salty Pecorino cheese.

Kale Salad with Pecorino and Hazelnuts
Effortlessly elegant is the name of the game here. You can substitute Parmesan, aged Gruyère, or Grana Padano for the Pecorino, and almonds or any other nut you have on hand for the hazelnuts. 

Butternut Squash with Sunflower Seed Granola and Stracciatella
Roasted butternut squash, savory sunflower–pumpkin granola, and creamy stracciatella cheese—what's not to love? 

Grain/Bread Sides

Photo: Mette Nielsen

It's hard to improve upon comfort classics like mashed potatoes or sausage stuffing, but we promise, carb-lovers will go nuts for these autumn-centric bites. 

Wild Rice Pilaf with Mushrooms, Chestnuts, and Cranberries (pictured above)
You can't beat wild rice for flavor and texture, and the addition of meaty mushrooms, tart cranberries, and earthy chestnuts make this a perfect addition to your holiday table.

Parsnip, Pear, and Rosemary Muffins 
The sweetness in these light, moist muffins from Beard Award winner and JBF Chefs Boot Camp alum Steven Satterfield comes naturally from the pear and parsnip, with just a little boost from sugar. Bonus: the fragrant aroma of fresh rosemary will fill your kitchen as they bake.

Miles Standish Stuffing 
This dish is a staple in Beard Award winner and television personality Alex Guarnaschelli's holiday arsenal. “My father calls this the Miles Standish stuffing,” she told us, “because it contains pepperoni and mozzarella, two ingredients he jokingly insists they were eating on the Mayflower.” We're sold.

Pumpkin–Cranberry Brioche  
Serve this cranberry-studded pumpkin brioche instead of your standard basket o' rolls and you'll win Thanksgiving. 

Desserts

Photo: James Ransom

These creative twists on old favorites will breathe new life into your holiday spread just when you need it most—before the post-turkey coma sets in.

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Icing (pictured above)
According to Food52 co-founder Merrill Stubbs, “Whether or not they admit it, all cooks have one recipe they’re most proud of.” And this one is hers. While it’s a simple cake, the luxe caramel glaze makes it holiday-worthy.

Coffee–Cardamom Cookies
If spice cookies are good alongside coffee (and they are) then wouldn’t they be even better with coffee in them? That was the question Beard Award–winning author and pastry chef Dorie Greenspan asked herself—and these treats are the affirmative answer.

Buttermilk–Brown Sugar Pie
In her Beard Award–winning cookbook, Ronni Lundy presents the easy-to-make pie as an ode to her Appalachian upbringing, but adds her own twist by substituting buttermilk for the traditional cream, yielding a tangy, decadent result. 

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Vanilla–Cream Cheese Filling
Flavored with pumpkin, molasses, and autumn spices, these whoopie pies from Brooklyn's One Girl Bakery would be a delightful addition to any festive occasion.

Hungry for more? View our entire recipe collection

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Elena North-Kelly is managing editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.