Organic Sense

Side Show

What’s the best part of a holiday meal? For adventurous cooks, it’s the side dishes.

By Terese Allen, Organic Valley Food Editor

Tradition is central at holiday meals. In most families the cook wouldn’t dare deviate from such beloved, expected fare as stuffed turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, and with good reason, for these hallowed specialties bring continuity and a sense of connection to the holiday table. Made with organic ingredients, they’re also a health-giving gift to family and guests. And they’re delicious, of course.

For those with a creative streak, though, classic dishes can feel a little restrictive. Where’s the fun in serving the exact same meal year in and year out? Happily, there’s plenty of room on holiday menus for side dishes. Think of them as the kitchen artist’s opportunity for coloring outside the lines.

Archetypes like roast beef or baked ham give form and function to a holiday feast, but innovative vegetables, salads and breads let you tweak the meal. (And in vegetarian homes they can happily make the meal.) Seasonal crops and organic products inspire such go-withs as a cheese-topped gratin of mixed root vegetables, or a cranberry-spiked salad of roast beets, carrots and pears. Check out other ideas from the list of recipes below and this year start a new tradition: a holiday meal made with imagination. 

Recipes

 

Roast Beet, Pear and Carrot Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

A colorful, celebration-worthy salad.

Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Maple Dressing

If you like spinach salad with hot bacon dressing, you’ll love spinach salad with hot bacon maple dressing.

Wheat Berry, Fig and Feta Salad

An ingenious whole-grain side dish contributed by Anne Bramley, author of Eat Feed Autumn Winter.

Winter Squash, Leek and Saffron Risotto

Stir this winter-focused risotto on the stovetop while an Organic Prairie pork loin or turkey roasts in the oven.

Root Vegetable and Swiss Cheese Gratin

A great make-ahead dish special enough to serve as a vegetarian main course or as a side dish for a holiday meal.

Green Chile and Cheddar Cornbread Cobbler

Tex-Mex savor and dairyland richness in a recipe from organic farmer Tricia Bross, of Luna Circle Farm in Rio, Wisconsin.

Parsnip Soufflés

Another show-stopper from Anne Bramley’s Eat Feed Autumn Winter -- one that features Organic Valley’s Omega-3 eggs and blends “rustic good taste with haute-cuisine technique.”

Cracked Pepper Cream Biscuits

Fill a cloth-lined basket with these to include on a “big day” buffet.

Turkish Sweet Red Pepper and Walnut Spread

An exotically spicy relish to accent the white meat or to lavish on artisanal bread.

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