Fun Side Dishes for Your Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving side dishes can be from all parts of the country and world.  Some are served with the meal, and some before.  While my children were growing up, I would fix a variety of nibbles for the children and adults to snack on while I finished fixing the feast. Side dishes can be fun as well good for you.  These ideas will also give you a healthy helping of veggies.

Olive and Pickles Tray
Shop for a variety of whole black olives, marinated olives, green stuffed olives and different varieties of pickles – even hot and spicy! Arrange on a tray or divided platter and set out for nibbling.

Fried Okra
Come on Northerners, you know you want to try it.

10 pods okra, sliced in 1/4 inch pieces
1 egg, beaten
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil

In a small bowl, soak okra in egg for 5 to 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, salt, and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge okra in the cornmeal mixture, coating evenly. Carefully place okra in hot oil; stir continuously. Reduce heat to medium when okra first starts to brown, and cook until golden. Drain on paper towels. Serve on a platter with other fried vegetable pieces and yogurt dip.

Crumb Topped Mushrooms
A simple and yummy alternative to heavier sides like potatoes.

1 pkg. (12 ounces) butter-flavored crackers, crushed
1/2 c. melted butter or margarine
2 1/4 pounds fresh mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 1/2 c. whipping cream
1/2 tsp. paprika (or to taste)

In a medium mixing bowl, toss 1 1/2 cups cracker crumbs with butter and set aside. Place half the mushrooms in a large greased lasagna or baking dish (or two greased 8×8 dishes). Sprinkle mushrooms with remaining (unbuttered) cracker crumbs; top with remaining mushrooms. Pour cream over all. Sprinkle with buttered crumbs and paprika. Bake, uncovered, at 350-F for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Serves 20-25.

Savory Vegetable Casserole for 25 People*
This is a wonderful casserole to side your Thanksgiving feast; it also makes a delicious side for a church supper. (Recipe may be divided to make a smaller portion.)

6 1/2 lbs. zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices
olive oil for sauteing
3/4 cups water
6 1/2 lbs. eggplant, cut into cubes
1/8 cup Italian herb seasoning
12 1/2 cups canned peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 3/4 lbs. low fat ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
6 eggs, beaten
3/4 cups parsley, chopped
3 cups seasoned bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place zucchini slices in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover and steam 2 minutes or until almost tender. Drain on paper towels.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Sauté eggplant for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water, cover skillet and cook 3-4 minutes until almost tender. Stir in herbs, tomato and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer 5 minutes.

Combine remaining ingredients, except bread crumbs, in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange half the zucchini slices in the bottom of a two large greased baking pans. Top with a layer of half the cheese mixture. Add a layer of half the eggplant mixture over zucchini. Repeat with remaining zucchini, cheese and eggplant. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake 35 minutes or until bread crumbs are golden brown and vegetables are bubbly. Serves 25.

* Can be made ahead and re-heated in the oven.

About Dori Fritzinger

I live and work with my multi-generational family in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. We have a farm of cows and calves, wool sheep, dairy goats, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens, honey bees, a horse and a donkey. We have a goat's milk soap and bath products line available on our farm web site. I enjoy reading, quilting and doing embroidery.