Unlikely Side Stars: Surprisingly Healthy Dishes for Your Thanksgiving Table

This year, impress your Thanksgiving guests with sides that give a little twist to the familiar! The Related Life reached out to top catering firm The Culinistas for fresh suggestions on side dishes you don’t have to feel guilty about. Roasted vegetables are the stars of these delightful accompaniments! See The Culinistas’ top two recommendations below: a Charred Cabbage Gratin and a Squash Panzanella.


Squash Panzanella

Prep Time 10 mins

Cook Time 40 mins

To balance the heaviness of the Thanksgiving spread, this Squash Panzanella celebrates fall with roasted acorn squash, bitter radicchio, crunchy pumpkin seeds, and a perfectly acidic vinaigrette.


Ingredients for the Squash Panzanella

○  1 acorn squash, seeded, chopped

○  1⁄4 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

○  3 cups sourdough bread, torn into small pieces

○   2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

○  1⁄2 cup pomegranate seeds

○   1⁄2 cup pumpkin seeds, roasted

○   1 head radicchio, torn

○   1 tablespoon sumac

○   Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste


Recipe for the Squash Panzanella

1.)  Preheat oven to 400oF.

2.)  On a parchment-lined baking sheet, toss squash with 2 tablespoons oil, and salt & pepper. Roast, 30-40 mins.

3.)  While the squash cooks, toast the bread: On a parchment-lined baking sheet, toss sourdough with 2 tablespoons oil & toast in oven, 5-10 mins. Cool.

4.)  Make the red wine vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, combine red wine vinegar & remaining 2 tablespoons oil, whisking until emulsified. Season with salt & pepper.

5.)  In a large bowl, mix squash, toasted bread, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds & radicchio; dress to taste.

6.)  Transfer to a shallow serving dish. Garnish with sumac.

Serves 4 to 6



Shopping: Sourdough comes in all forms: pre cut, small loaves, big loaves, rounds, etc. Format does not make a difference for this dish.

Technique: Acorn squash skin is edible; no need to peel before roasting.


Charred Cabbage Gratin

Prep Time 10 mins

Cook Time 40 mins

Charred Cabbage Gratin delivers cheesiness from melted gruyere and a browned crust thanks to panko. Each bite offers a decadent depth of flavor and texture.


Ingredients for the Charred Cabbage Gratin

○ 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

○  2-3 allspice berries, grated

○  1⁄2 cup shallot, finely chopped

○  2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

○  1 cup heavy cream

○  1 1⁄4 cup gruyere, shredded, divided

○  1 head cabbage, stem trimmed, sliced into rounds

○  1⁄3 cup panko

○   1 tsp onion powder

○   Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste


Recipe for the Charred Cabbage Gratin

1.)  Preheat oven to 375°F.

2.)  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add allspice, shallot & garlic; cook until aromatic, 3 mins. Add cream, simmer & reduce; 4-5 mins. Add 1 cup gruyere & whisk to melt; season with salt & pepper. Remove from heat & reserve.

3.)  While cream simmers, begin charring cabbage: Using 1/4 cup olive oil, coat each cabbage slice on both sides; season with salt & pepper. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat & add cabbage slices one by one to deeply caramelize on both sides, about 10 mins.

4.)  Shingle charred cabbage in a medium baking dish & pour cream mixture over cabbage; top with remaining gruyere.

5.)  In a small bowl, combine panko with remaining olive oil, onion powder, salt & pepper. Top gratin with panko & bake until golden, 15-20 mins.

6.)  Serve in baking vessel.

Serves 6-8



Technique: Remove a few outer leaves of the cabbage before slicing to reveal the unmarked, bright green leaves. Slicing the cabbage in round, steak-like pieces increases the surface area for charring & will create even shingles in the baking dish.

Taste: Don’t be shy with ground black pepper; it helps cut the richness of the cream & cheese! Try adding whole grain mustard and tabasco sauce to the cream base for bite.



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