Side dishes that hold their own
Roasted Baby Carrots with Fresh Mint – This dish is quick to put together, but is always a crowd pleaser. The freshness of the mint really brightens up this humble root vegetable.

Side dishes that hold their own

You can make these favorites ahead of your holiday feast or pull them together in practically no time

BELLOWS FALLS — We spend a lot of time and money on the holiday main dish, but the side dishes are often the most memorable. There would be a revolt in our family if we didn't have creamy mashed potatoes and gravy or everyone's favorite cauliflower and cheese sauce.

But I like to switch things up a bit, too, and try something new every year. Sometimes, that experiment manages to become part of our regular offerings.

I really appreciate a few dishes, like these, that you can put together in practically no time or that you can make a day or two ahead and just pull out and serve or reheat while the turkey is resting.

Sweet and Spicy Broccoli and Pea Salad

This salad is a little lighter than the one Mom used to make with a thick, gloppy dressing and tons of bacon, not that the bacon lovers in the family wouldn't want some here! (We'll let them add it if they want, but only if it is locally raised.)

Break into small florets:

¶1 large head, or two small, of broccoli

Peel and chop the stems as well - they are delicious! Steam for about 3 to 4 minutes, just until crisp/tender, then immediately rinse under cold water to set the vibrant color. Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine:

¶3 or 4 scallions, sliced

¶{1/3} cup vegan or regular mayonnaise

¶2 to 3 Tbsp. Sriracha

¶1 Tbsp. ginger, finely grated on microplane

¶1 large garlic clove, finely grated on microplane

¶1 Tbsp. Vermont maple syrup, dark

¶2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

¶1 tsp. sesame oil, toasted

Whisk well, then add:

¶{1/3} cup frozen peas, thawed

¶{1/3} cup Marcona almonds (save a few for garnish)

¶{1/3} cup ginger, chopped, crystalized (save some for garnish)

Mix, gently toss in the broccoli, and season with salt to taste. Plate and garnish with reserved almonds and ginger.

Roasted Baby Carrots with Fresh Mint

If you can't find carrots with tops, use fresh parsley in place of the tops in the sauce.

Preheat the oven to 450F and place a rimmed baking sheet in to heat.

Scrub and remove the tops from:

¶1 small bunch baby carrots with tops

Place them on the heated sheet pan and drizzle with a little olive oil, rolling them to coat evenly. Roast until tender (generally 8 to 10 minutes, but time will vary according to the size of your carrots).

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine:

¶2 Tbsp. butter or vegan butter

¶1 heaping Tbsp. mint, finely minced

¶1 heaping Tbsp. carrot tops or parsley, finely minced

¶1 heaping Tbsp. pickled ginger, minced

¶1 Tbsp. native honey

¶1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Let the butter melt, then keep the mixture warm while the carrots roast.

When the carrots are done, pour the butter mixture over them and coat well. When you are ready to serve them, garnish them with a sprinkling of fresh mint.

Tangy Endive Salad

This salad is even better the next day.

In a large bowl, combine:

¶2 large heads of Belgium endive, sliced or chopped

¶1 medium English cucumber, chopped

¶Handful of grapes, sliced in half

¶{1/4} cup flat-leaved parsley, chopped and packed

¶{1/3} cup almonds or nuts of choice, roughly chopped (save a few to garnish)

In a canning jar or other small jar, combine:

¶2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

¶1 Tbsp. maple syrup

¶1 Tbsp. grainy mustard

¶1 Tbsp. capers, crushed a bit

¶1 tsp. caper brine

¶3 Tbsp. fruity olive oil

Shake well to emulsify the dressing. If you want it spicy, add:

¶1 pinch red pepper flakes, crushed

Dress the salad, mix well, correct the seasoning, and place in your serving bowl. Top with the rest of the almonds and a bit more parsley.

Cranberry Orange Relish

This relish takes hardly any time, and you can make it three or four days before your event. Just don't forget it in the back of the refrigerator.

My mom made this recipe with her meat grinder, but I use the food processor.

The cranberry adds tartness; the horseradish, a bit of a bite; and the orange, both a little sweetness and bitterness, since we are using the entire orange - peel, pith, flesh, and all.

The sage adds interest; it's one of my favorite herbs to combine with cranberries. If you want more heat, add a jalapeño.

If you can't find fresh horseradish, add a tablespoon of prepared horseradish, then taste and adjust.

In a food processor, combine:

¶4 cups fresh cranberries

¶1 large orange, cut up, seeded

¶{1/2} cup granulated organic sugar

¶1 heaping Tbsp. fresh sage

¶2 Tbsp. freshly grated horseradish

¶2 tbsp. Grand Marnier liquor (optional)

Pulse until the mixture attains the consistency you want. Taste and adjust. Do you want more horseradish? A little more sage? It's up to you.

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