How to Make the Best Holiday Vegetable Sides
Thanksgiving isn’t complete without the right side dishes. But what’s the secret to the perfect green bean casserole? And is there a way to make a memorable cranberry sauce? Whether you’re looking for interesting ways to dress up roasted carrots or want to make Brussels sprouts that everyone will really love (yes, love), we have all the recipes, tips, and techniques.
For many of our green bean recipes, we recommend blanching the beans by dunking them in boiling water and then shocking them in a bowl of ice water to set their color and preserve their crisp texture. To avoid having to fish the vegetables out of icy water, we place a fine-mesh strainer in a bowl filled with ice water and dump the hot vegetables into it. When the veggies are cool, the strainer can be lifted out, leaving the ice behind.
While testing our recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, we noticed that, in addition to whole squash, there were two other options in the produce department: precut chunks of peeled butternut squash and peeled, halved butternut squash. Though both options promised to streamline the prep time, we were concerned that what we saved in time would be offset by dry texture and stale flavor. After trying the squash chunks and halved squash in our soup, we weren’t surprised that tasters preferred the “creamy” texture and “earthy sweetness” of the soup made with fresh, whole squash that you peel and cube yourself. Still, tasters found the peeled, halved squash to be an acceptable substitute in the soup, lauding it as “balanced and nutty” though “not as squashy” as the whole squash. The precut chunks, however, were “dry and stringy” with “barely any squash flavor.”