We all look forward to seeing our favorite holiday foods on the table year after year. But despite tradition, canned yams, grey-looking green beans, and pre-cut veggie crudite platters get old! This year, breathe new life into holiday sides with a trip to your local farmer’s market or specialty produce shop and plan meals around fresh, seasonal vegetables.
Here are some of my favorite (easy!) ways to perk up the classics with the season's bounty.
Instead of green beans… look to Brussels sprouts, kale, or baby broccoli. I love kale salads with warm vinaigrette (the warmth helps soften the kale), crunchy pumpkin seeds, and salty crumbled cheese. You can also roast Brussels sprouts and toss with a little lemon juice, olive oil, and dried cherries. Or if you truly love those green beans, quickly sauté them in olive oil with garlic, then toss them with chopped smoked almonds or crumbled bits of bacon.
For the yams… Give these sweet, nutrient-rich potatoes the attention they deserve on your holiday table by fixing them with a little less butter and sugar (which you can add to dessert!) My favorite recipe is a warm sweet potato and poblano salad, which adds a fresh crunch to the soft, sweet yams. It’s also fun to incorporate other delicious root veggies that don’t often make the menu: like these cider-glazed root vegetables with cinnamon walnuts.
Stick with Stuffing…It’s hard to mess up the stuffing – somehow it always tastes amazing! But a few twists to your recipe will make it even more enjoyable. Applegate’s chicken & apple sausage along with fresh or dried fruit (apples, pomegranate seeds, dates, figs, cherries), crunchy nuts (pistachios, walnuts, or pine nuts), and fragrant fresh herbs (parsley, basil, chives, or thyme) will create a stuffing so memorable guests will insist you make it next year.
Decadent Desserts…To avoid a holiday riot, I suggest you keep the pumpkin pie! But beyond that, go wild. This chocolate cranberry tart is one of my all-time favorite holiday desserts, since it combines light and fruity flavors with rich chocolate and mascarpone cheese – the best of all worlds. The holidays are also all about cookies. I’m excited to give these pumpkin toffee cookies a try, and these chai-spiced snickerdoodles disappear at my house in no time.
Whatever ends up making it onto your menu, may you enjoy a warm and cozy holiday season surrounded by family and friends!