You can learn a lot about the guests at any given Thanksgiving based on the side dishes on the table.
Crawfish dressing must mean there’s a cook at the table with roots in Louisiana or East Texas. Buttermilk in the cornbread hints that someone also probably uses buttermilk in their biscuits. Arugula salad with crispy prosciutto, figs and Parmesan cheese reflects sophisticated tastes that might have been honed in a big city.
A homemade green bean casserole that you can make in a slow cooker and that happens to be keto? Well, that person is on top of the latest food trends, no matter where they are from.
We hope these recipes will inspire you to try some new side dishes or renew your love of the tried-and-true ones.
Buttermilk and Scallion Cornbread
Swapping buttermilk for milk tempers the sweetness of the classic boxed cornbread. For more flavor and texture, we added scallions and frozen roasted corn, and feel free to add your choice of enhancements, including finely chopped bacon, cranberries and/or cheese. To make the cornbread entirely from scratch instead of using the Jiffy mix, combine 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large bowl before proceeding with the rest of the recipe. The cornbread is best the day it is made, but if you prefer, it can be baked a day in advance and stored, tightly wrapped, at room temperature.
— Becky Krystal
Butter, for greasing the pan
1 (8 1/2-ounce) package cornbread mix, such as Jiffy
1/3 cup whole or low-fat buttermilk
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 to 2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup frozen roasted corn, thawed under cool tap water and patted dry
Heat the oven to 400 degrees with the rack in the middle. Grease an 8-inch square pan with butter and line the pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the corn muffin mix, buttermilk, egg and salt — the batter will be slightly lumpy. Stir in the scallions and corn until evenly distributed. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then using a round-edged knife loosen the edges, turn out the slab, cut into squares and serve warm. Serves 9 to 12.
— Adapted by Becky Krystal from a recipe on the Jiffy corn muffin mix package
Slow Cooker Green Bean Casserole
It’s time to update a classic dish with fresh new flavors. Instead of canned vegetables and soup, you’ll make this delicious casserole from fresh green beans, cream cheese and Parmesan. This version also happens to be keto-friendly.
— Editors of Rodale
4 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons softened
1/2 medium onion, chopped
4 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup chicken broth
1 (8-ounce) package full-fat cream cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes, softened
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Rub the sides and bottom of the slow cooker stoneware with the 2 tablespoons softened butter.
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and it evaporates, about 5 minutes.
Place the green beans in the slow cooker. Pour the onion mixture over the beans. Season with the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Pour the broth over all.
Cover and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours, or until the green beans are tender. Stir in the cream cheese and the Parmesan cheese. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until the cheese is melted, stirring every 15 minutes. Garnish with the sliced almonds. Serves 8.
— From "The Essential Keto Slow Cooker Cookbook" by the editors of Rodale Books (Rodale Books, $14.99)
Crawfish Cornbread Dressing
I call this dressing. You call it what you want. But we’ll both agree that it’s delicious. We bake it just to get crispy bits on the edges, not to cook it through. I prefer to use fresh crawfish meat, but since the dressing is creamy and you won’t notice the odd texture that frozen crawfish can get, frozen will do. You’ll see the dressing at Thanksgiving even when you know there’s not a fresh crawfish to be found.
— Isaac Toups
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 rib celery, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound cooked crawfish tail meat
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups crawfish stock or any seafood stock
5 cups crumbled cornbread
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a large Dutch oven, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, the trinity should start to brown a little bit — this is intentional; you want it more than just translucent — you want it thoroughly softened and beginning to brown. Since we’re not braising this dish down, you really want to have your trinity cooked — I don’t like crunchy trinity. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.
Stir in the crawfish, salt, black pepper and cayenne. Add the stock. While still over medium heat, slowly bring the mixture to a low simmer then remove from the heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and stir until it’s fully melted. Once the butter has melted, gently fold in the crumbled cornbread until it’s well incorporated, being careful not to smush it all to bits. Scoop the mixture into a 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole dish and spread out evenly. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges are browned. Call your Cajun mother and thank her. Serves 8 to 10.
— From "Chasing the Gator: Isaac Toups and the New Cajun Cooking" by Isaac Toups and Jennifer V. Cole (Little, Brown and Company, $35)
Arugula Salad with Figs, Prosciutto, Walnuts and Parmesan
Every dinner party host needs a salad that’s simple to make but impressive, and this one delivers in spades. Figs and prosciutto, a classic duo, combine perfectly with peppery arugula for a salad that explodes with flavor in each bite: sweet, salty and spicy. Frying the prosciutto slices heightened their flavor and gave them some crunch. We chopped dried figs to provide bites of fig throughout the salad. For the dressing, a basic mustard and balsamic vinaigrette was too spicy with the already punchy arugula. A surprise substitution — a spoonful of jam in place of the mustard — added fruity sweetness that helped to balance the salty flavors. Microwaving the vinegar, jam, shallot and figs allowed the fruit to plump and the flavors to meld before we whisked in the olive oil. Toasted walnuts, sprinkled over the dressed arugula, gave the salad an earthy crunch, and Parmesan cheese complemented the walnuts while also reinforcing the prosciutto’s salty flavor.
— Editors of America’s Test Kitchen
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/4 inch-wide ribbons
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon raspberry jam
1 small shallot, minced
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup dried figs, stemmed and chopped
8 ounces (8 cups) baby arugula
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add prosciutto and cook, stirring often, until crispy, about 7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer prosciutto to paper towel-lined plate; set aside.
Whisk vinegar, jam, shallot, salt and pepper together in large bowl. Stir in figs, cover and microwave until steaming, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Let sit until figs are softened and vinaigrette has cooled to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
Just before serving, whisk vinaigrette to re-emulsify. Add arugula and gently toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, topping individual portions with prosciutto, walnuts, and Parmesan. Serves 8.
— From "The Side Dish Bible: 1001 Perfect Recipes for Every Vegetable, Rice, Grain, and Bean Dish You Will Ever Need" by America’s Test Kitchen (America’s Test Kitchen, $35)