Be-side yourself: make-ahead sides for Thanksgiving

Eisenhower_carving_a_turkeyFeeling a little stressed over what you need to prepare before Thanksgiving (November 24)? There’s a lot that needs to be done before you all sit down around the big table on November 24: clean the house, do the grocery shopping, brush up on your college football facts before the big game, peel eight thousand potatoes.

And that’s all got to be done before you tackle the thankless task of making a seating chart that keeps your cousin’s new boyfriend from asking your sweet-but-eccentric grandpa about his opinions on, well, anything.

We can’t help you with the intricacies of family dynamics, or even draft you a list of “safe” conversation topics (what about that weather, am I right? puppies sure are cute! how about them Chicago Cubs?!), but we can offer suggestions for streamlining your preparations for the big feast.

greenbeanFirst, there are many delicious Thanksgiving side dishes that you can put together easily. For instance, a platter of raw vegetables, paired with some of our fancy new gourmet olives, pita bread, and homemade hummus makes an easy, quick, and healthful counterpoint to heavier Thanksgiving fare.

Better yet? We’ve gathered some tasty recipes that you can even make in advance — up to several weeks ahead of the feasting day. You still get the compliments for making great food for Thanksgiving, but you also spare yourself the stress of making ten dishes simultaneously. (They never come out of the oven and all make it to the table at the same time, trust me).

Our 2016 suggestions for delicious make-ahead Thanksgiving cooking:

Pie crust. You may not be making pies until much closer to Thanksgiving, but mixing up a freeze-able batch or two of Short Crust will cut way down on prep time on baking day.

Grateful gratin. Scalloped potatoes are so 2015. Sliced winter squash forms the base of Butternut Squash Gratin, spiced with AllSpice-exclusive Rory Brown’s Sausage Blend.

Green (bean) and vegan. You can still make 70s-style casserole for the traditional crowd, but give a nod to your family members who prefer to go minimal on the animal products with a make-ahead batch of blanched Green Beans with Orange and Toasted Almonds.

cranberry-pear-chutney-complete-1024x768No ridges. Yes cranberries. One of the best episodes about the 90s comedy “Mad About You” involved a Thanksgiving cranberry sauce debate: should it be freshly-made, or be pre-fab and come out of a can? The argument was made that the ridges left by the can were essential to a good cranberry sauce experience. We can’t help you create aluminum can ridges, but we can offer two great make-ahead recipes for cranberry sauce, gingered Cranberry Relish (last week’s Saturday Sample), and (pictured) a chunky Cranberry-Pear Chutney. Both can be made in advance, and both are to die for, when spread on a leftover turkey sandwich.

Still feel nervous about your Thanksgiving prep? We’ve got a day-by-day schedule to help you prepare your feast, a little bit each day, one day at a time, so that it will all be ready next Thursday.

Good luck!