Bored with traditional holiday sides? Here are more than 4 ways to mix it up.

Amanda Cushman, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Entertaining

Holidays are a time of year for entertaining and family gatherings with food taking center stage.

Dishes can be wonderfully traditional or you can mix it up with a new twist on the classics. I love side dishes and often make a meal out of the various side offerings at a holiday table. The creativity, variety and choice of flavors make side dishes a great vehicle to try something new.

Most of us prepare the traditional entrees, such as roast turkey or ham or possibly a beef tenderloin, but the sides are where you can kick it up a notch and experiment with something new. I tend to lean toward texture and color to add pop to my holiday sides and enjoy trying different herbs, spices and nuts to create delicious results.

An added benefit of side dishes is that most can be prepared ahead and either frozen or refrigerated with just a quick heating before serving. I recommend doing as many dishes as possible ahead of time for a stress-free holiday.

Try the following ways to mix up your sides for the holidays and enjoy your time with friends and family.



I always have a variety of nuts and dried fruit on hand to add crunch or chewiness to a rice or grain dish. I love almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and cashews.

The best way to store nuts is in the freezer to ensure freshness. Remember to toast them in a dry skillet to bring out the nutty flavor.

Dried cranberries, currants, raisins and apricots are all wonderful and add a touch of sweetness as well as color. Adding thinly sliced scallion, shallots or finely diced red onion is another way to get some added texture and flavor to your side dishes.



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