Everyday Food: Put tasty twist on traditional Thanksgiving sides

A great Thanksgiving side: Brussels sprouts with bacon and apples.
A great Thanksgiving side: Brussels sprouts with bacon and apples. David Loftus

Change up your usual Thanksgiving menu — or put a new spin on traditional recipes — with these tasty side dishes. The best part: they can be prepared in advance. Just reheat and serve. How easy is that?

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Sweet potato casserole

Sweet potato casseroles are a tradition in most homes. Made with mashed sweet potatoes and a marshmallow topping, this dish is a perfect combination of gooey and sweet. With the help of a little nutmeg for flavor, this casserole is sure to be a new favorite.

Serves 8

  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes (about 8), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  •  1/2 cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  •  1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows or chopped regular marshmallows

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan, and cover with cold water by 1 inch; salt generously. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook until easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, and return to pan. Heat over medium heat, stirring, until liquid has evaporated and a thin film covers bottom of pan, about 2 minutes.

2. Remove pan from heat; add milk, butter and nutmeg. Mash until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Transfer sweet-potato mixture to a 2-quart baking dish.

3. Top casserole with marshmallows; bake until center is warmed through and marshmallows are lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.

Cook’s note: To make ahead, refrigerate up to 1 day.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 216 calories, 7 grams fat, 37 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 18 milligrams cholesterol, 86 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber, 27 percent of calories from fat.

Brussels sprouts with bacon and apple

The classic combination of Brussels sprouts and bacon gets a touch of sweetness from apple slices. Everything is roasted together until browned and tender.

Serves 8

  • 3 slices bacon, cut into  1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 pints Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and halved
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 apple, cored and cut into  1/4-inch slices, each slice halved crosswise
  • 2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange bacon in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until browned, 10 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts in a single layer; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until they begin to brown, about 15 minutes.

2. Remove from oven, and toss in apple. Return to oven; roast until Brussels sprouts are browned and tender and apple has softened, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Toss vegetables with vinegar, and serve immediately.

Cook’s note: Prepare recipe through step 2; store at room temperature up to 4 hours. To serve hot, spread vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet, and place in a 350-degree oven until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes. Proceed with step 3.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 65 calories, 1 gram fat, 10 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 76 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber, 19 percent of calories from fat.