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When it comes to planning a Thanksgiving feast, the turkey is pretty much like a Christmas tree—everyone’s glad to see it, but all they really want to do is tear into the bright shiny packages lying around it. Apart from the vino, the sides will likely be the stars of this year’s meal, but that doesn’t mean they have to take hours to cook—or blow your budget.
“Consider breaking the cranberry mould and offering non-traditional and unexpected side dishes,” says Stefania Nappi Mallett, CEO of ezCater.
With Mallett’s tips and a few of our own, we’ve put together a list of seven delicious dishes that will please both your taste buds and your wallet.
Apples are one of the best fruits to find in fall. Since they're in season, you won't pay much for a bag and that's more than enough to prepare a sweet side dish of baked apples for your guests.
'Cinnamon baked apples is an affordable side dish and it doubles as a dessert,' Mallett says.
Bonus: If you're trying to keep holiday weight gain at bay, serving up a sweeter side dish like apples during a meal can stave off cravings for dessert later, Mallett says.
Before you start rolling your eyes and reaching for the organic kale, give iceberg lettuce a little respect.
Mallett says it's making a resurgence at the dinner table and it's one of the most inexpensive greens you'll find at the market these days.
'You'll be au courant if you offer iceberg wedges with a flavorful seasonal dressing like a light cranberry vinaigrette,' she says. 'Don't offer the quarter-head-sized wedge slices restaurants typically do. It's wasteful as part of a whole meal.'
Instead, try slicing the head of the lettuce into eighths. It saves on waste and you'll service twice as many, she says.
Carrots are dirt cheap and can easily be jazzed up if you're handy with a spice rack.
Mallett suggests slicing up boiled (or roasted) carrots, then brushing them lightly with a little butter or olive oil. Sprinkle them with cardamom, nutmeg, or ginger to give them some extra zing.
'(This dish) goes a long way, adds colour to the table and is especially appreciated by the dieters at the dinner,' she adds.
Saved the canned peas for the kiddie table. This wallet-friendly dish is just for grown ups.
Trader Joe's served up brussels sprouts with a cranberries at its sample station earlier month and it's sure to be a crowd pleaser. No worries if you're not near one of their shops--all ingredients are pretty basic.
Check out the recipe here.
'Beans go a long way and are very affordable,' Mallett says. 'Though (three-bean salad) is traditionally a chilled summer dish, a couple twists to this recipe can make this Thanksgiving-ready.'
Use fall-friendly red kidney beans, cream garbanzo beans and green beans and serve them warm.
'You won't need more than 2 ounces per person and it will garner lots of compliments,' she says. 'It's a popular dish.'
Try something other than the typical sweet potato with this hearty squash dish.
Squash go a long way when diced and roasted in the oven. You'll feed more hungry mouths and it'll add a great splash of colour to the table.
Whole Foods has a great recipe for a version infused with sage and cranberry.