Thanksgiving Test, Eat Your Vegetables Edition: Green Bean and Cabbage Dishes

Thanksgiving isn’t just about the mashed potatoes and pie. You’ve got to have some balance on your plate; a time for recovery between the carb reps.

The group my wife and I are cooking for includes a few vegetarians, so we wanted to have plenty of vegetable side dishes. A green bean dish was a must, and one of Mark Bittman’s suggested Thanksgiving sides in How to Cook Everything was cabbage and apples. That sounded good, and gave us an equal balance of starchy to healthy sides.

Well, that first cabbage dish was a bust. Too sweet and too red, no one was going to eat it if they could have cranberry sauce instead.

The New York Times had a cabbage and apple dish that looked worthwhile to try. The recipe also included onions, celery and caraway seeds, for an overall flavor that was much more savory than sweet. This second iteration was much more successful. The cabbage was crunchy, not soggy, and the celery provided additional crunch. The onions and green apples balanced each other nicely, and the caraway seeds brought just a little extra flavor. One more recipe, in the bag.

I just needed to find a good green bean recipe. I read a bunch of food blogs, and one of those, Once Upon a Chef, had a dynamite recipe for roasted green beans with cranberries and walnuts. I had never tried roasting green beans before, but I was curious to try this new technique. I also liked how this dish would be carrying the cranberry theme through the meal. Then I checked Epicurious, and found another recipe I was eager to test: green beans with wild mushrooms. The recipe note said it was “a fresh take on green bean casserole.” I was certain one of these two dishes would be a perfect addition to the Thanksgiving spread.

Note how much the green beans shrunk during roasting.

I made the roasted green beans first, and after one bite I knew they were a serious contender. This recipe includes lemon juice and lemon zest, and the brightness from the citrus plays wonderfully with the roasted beans.

The green beans and wild mushrooms were delicious, too, but not as notable. I had basically made traditional blanched green beans with a very fancy sauce. The mushroom sauce was great, but the beans (supposed to be the star) were ordinary.

Overall, the roasted green beans were a lighter dish, and wouldn’t overwhelm the diners I’d be serving.

With these two dishes settled, I finally have my Thanksgiving meal selected.



  • Mom

    Sounds awesome. I’m really looking forward to this feast. And I’m really glad I’m not the chef!!!

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