Thanksgiving gives adventuresome cooks a chance to dive deep into their family’s culinary traditions and to explore new horizons and create a few new traditions. And spices play a crucial role in both.
Ideas for Traditional Sides
Whether you make stuffing with white bread or cornbread, whether you add sausage or oysters or bacon or turkey giblets, whether your stuffing is bolstered by onions, carrots, and celery or whether it relies on raisins, apples, and other fruit to build flavor, all begin to soar with their spice profiles. Sage, parsley, rosemary, and thyme are common and make a huge contribution to your dish of stuffing.
As a celebration of the harvest, a platter of roasted vegetables will add color and terrific flavor to your holiday table. Our recipe relies on seasonal root vegetables, but it’s flexible enough to accommodate vegetables like zucchini or pieces of winter squash and hearty greens like kale or collards. Our recipe is lifted by the addition of Gateway to the North Maple-Garlic Seasoning with its signature blend of pure maple sugar, brown sugar, salt, Tellicherry pepper, garlic, and two types of onion.
Inspiration for Non-Traditional Sides
Nothing gives a cook more joy than having someone at the table say “This is really delicious. How did you make this?” The addition of a non-traditional ingredient or spice can change an ordinary side dish into one of those mysteriously-delicious additions to a holiday meal that might just become its own ongoing tradition.
This mashed potato recipe is transformed by the addition of parsnips: that sweetly-earthy-nutty taste. Their addition to this dish guarantees people will wonder what you’ve done to make these mashed potatoes extraordinary. The dish has an absolutely classic spice pairing of bay leaf and ground white pepper. You might also try adding roasted garlic, green onion flakes, or rosemary. And don’t forget that a pinch of fleur de sel will finish any mashed potato dish perfectly.
Special Spices Adding a Subtle Lift
Are you charged with making cranberry relish this year? Try countering the sweet-sour flavors with a little heat. The dazzle of ground guajillo chiles will add a bright, tangy heat that will match the sweetness of the relish.
Pumpkin Pie relies on a complex flavor profile at the heart of classic baking spices: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and vanilla. Think it’s impossible to surprise anyone with this gorgeous gourd dessert? What about the addition of rosemary? Or caraway? Or maybe a touch of black pepper or long pepper?
Has the green bean casserole been added to your cooking portfolio this year? How would Chinese Five Spice work in your recipe? Ours is hand-blended from cassia cinnamon, powdered star anise and anise seed, ground ginger and ground cloves.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment with Spices
Thanksgiving provides a platform for cooks to stretch and experiment. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of that. Try adding something new: whether chiles, or a culinary herb, or a baking spice in an unexpected dish, expanding the flavor profile of both traditional and non-traditional Thanksgiving sides can delight friends and family at your table. And be prepared to answer the beloved question: “What’s in this?”