Everyday Food: Extra guests? Easy sides will make them feel welcome

Cranberry Chutney made with red wine vinegar saves in the fridge for a week.
Cranberry Chutney made with red wine vinegar saves in the fridge for a week. David Loftus

You might have most of your menu planned for a Thanksgiving feast, but news of additional guests or a worry about needing an extra side dish is easily addressed with these fresh recipes.

Both can be prepared in advance, plus the chutney makes a terrific relish for post-holiday leftovers.

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Cranberry chutney

This cranberry chutney has savory leanings, with shallots and ginger sauteed in olive oil. Red wine vinegar adds tang, and sugar balances the tartness of the fresh cranberries.

Serves 8

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  •  1/4 cup finely minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 bag (12 ounces) fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-low. Add shallots and ginger; cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Add cranberries, sugar, vinegar and 1 cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, until most of the berries have burst and mixture has thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool completely. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Cook’s note: To store, refrigerate in an airtight container, up to 1 week.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 137 calories, 2 grams fat, 32 grams carbohydrates, trace protein, no cholesterol, 22 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber and 11 percent of calories from fat.

Green bean casserole

For many families, the green bean casserole is a Thanksgiving must-have. This homemade version uses fresh green beans, a creamy homemade mushroom sauce and a flavorful topping of crisp fried shallots. We've made the quintessential Thanksgiving casserole better than ever.

Serves 8

  • 3 cups vegetable oil
  • 6 large shallots, cut into very thin rounds, rings separated
  • 1  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 pounds green beans, trimmed and halved
  •  1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 pound button mushrooms, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 14  1/2 ounces low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup whole milk

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. In a large bowl, toss together shallots and 1  1/4 cups flour until shallots are evenly coated. In batches, shake off excess flour from shallots and fry until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes, adjusting heat if shallots are browning too quickly. With a slotted spoon, transfer to baking sheet and season with salt. Set aside. (Store in an airtight container at room temperature with a layer of paper towels underneath, up to 2 days.)

2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook green beans until crisp-tender, 6 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Pat dry. (To store, refrigerate in a resealable plastic bag, up to 1 day.)

3. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high. Add mushrooms and cook until liquid has evaporated, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add  1/4 cup flour and cook, stirring, until incorporated, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, gradually add broth, then milk. Bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Add green beans to mushroom sauce and toss to coat. Transfer mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake until bubbling around edges, about 15 minutes. Serve topped with fried shallots.

Cook’s note: To store, refrigerate with plastic wrap on surface, up to 2 days. Reheat before using.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 303 calories, 21 grams fat, 25 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams protein, 20 milligrams cholesterol, 50 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber and 59 percent of calories from fat.