Thanksgiving dinner: Bring your creativity out

Tuesday , November 11, 2014 - 2:31 PM

Standard-Examiner correspondent

When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, most of the menu is already a done deal.

Turkey and dressing? Check.

Mashed potatoes and gravy? Check.

Pies for dessert? Check.

But the side dishes are where cooks can get creative. It's a chance to try something new, and to leave your imprint on the traditional meal. The side dishes become a family trademark, with Great Aunt Elsie's Marshmallow Sweet Potatoes or Grandma Smith's green bean casserole getting served for several generations.

If you're attending Thanksgiving at someone else's home, chances are you'll be asked to bring a side dish. And again, it's really OK to try something "different," because there are usually several different side dishes to choose from (and if someone doesn't happen to like it, that person can fill up on mashed potatoes).

Last week, chef Victoria Topham demonstrated some interesting holida side dishes at a cooking event at the R.C. Willey Kitchen Gallery at the Draper store.

Last year, Topham sold her long-time Salt Lake restaurant, Pinon Market, and is now working as a personal chef and cooking instructor.

Brussels sprouts are a trendy veggie right now. But often they have an off-putting boiled-cabbage flavor. In Topham's recipe, the Brussels sprouts are raw, avoiding some of the harshness. A little maple syrup adds some appeal, too. The term "shaved" refers to thinly slicing each Brussels sprout, so that they are practically shredded.

"Succotash" originated with the Native Americans living in New England at the time of the Pilgrims. The word is derived from the Narragansett term for "broken corn kernels."

Although there's no surviving menu of the original Thanksgiving feast, it's very likely that succotash was served. It usually consists of sweet corn and beans — most often, lima beans. Succotash was popular during the Great Depression because its inexpensive ingredients offered a nourishing, protein-rich meal.

In Topham's updated version of succotash, Andouille sausage gives it some spice, and the lima beans are switched out for edamame, which are less mushy and more trendy. You can use another type of spicy sausage if you prefer.

Some older readers might remember "Sufferin' Succotash!" the phrase of the used by Warner Bros.' cartoon cat Sylvester and Daffy Duck. If you can't get past the term, "succotash,' well, then just call it "Sauteed Corn and Beans."

Another plus: both of these dishes come together quickly, and don't tie up your oven, which is precious real estate on Thanksgiving Day with all the turkey roasting and pie-baking going on.

Topham designed the recipes for a smaller Thankgsiving. So if you are feeding a crowd, you might want to double or triple these recipes.

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 shallot, finely chopped

1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

4 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh chives

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Salt/pepper, to taste

1 pound Brussels Sprouts, shaved (thinly sliced)

½ red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup toasted pumpkin or squash seeds

Prepare vinaigrette: Combine chopped shallots, mustard. chives, lemon juice and maple syrup. In a thin stream whisk in olive oil. Add toasted walnuts. Set aside.

Combine shaved sprouts and red onion. Toss all ingredients in a large bowl to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 2-4.

— Victoria Topham,


1 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound spicy smoked sausage, chopped (such as Linguica, dry smoked chorizo or Andouille)

1 cup yellow onion, chopped fine

2 teaspoon garlic, minced

¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped

¼ cup green bell pepper, chopped

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 cups frozen white sweet corn, thawed

2 cups frozen shelled edamame, thawed

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1 bunch scallions, minced

¼ cup Italian parsley, minced

Salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Sauté chopped sausage until crispy and browned. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons sausage drippings. Add onions and cook until softened. Add garlic, cayenne, corn and edamame. Sauté until flavors are combined and fragrant. Add tomatoes, parsley and scallions. Adjust salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes about 6 to 7 1-cup servings.

— Victoria Topham,

Valerie Phillips can be reached at

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