The holiday season is full of longstanding traditions that are carried out year after year, generation after generation — but it also oﬀers an opportunity to create new traditions. My family has always enjoyed traditional Thanksgiving side dishes such as Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, and green beans. However, we’ve never been satisﬁed with just those, and we ﬁnd ourselves craving other ﬂavors on our plates. We enjoy experimenting with side dishes at Thanksgiving and incorporating Mediterranean ingredients like tahini, Greek yogurt, cipollini onions, and pine nuts. In the process, we create new Thanksgiving traditions while still keeping everyone happy and satisﬁed.
Some of my favorite dishes are inspired by my family’s heritage, while others simply reﬂect our love for Mediterranean food. Regardless of their diﬀerences, these dishes have a common thread — fresh, high-quality ingredients, and simple methods of preparation. Most importantly, all are enjoyed around a table with our loved ones. Here are some of my family’s favorite creative side dishes we have developed over the years. Try them out this Thanksgiving, or bookmark them for future weeknight dinner ideas.
Emilia Petrucci, Oldways media intern and nutrition communications student at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
5 Mediterranean-Inspired Thanksgiving Sides
1. White Beans with Roasted Tomatoes and Rosemary
White beans are a staple in Tuscany, where our family is from. Tuscans serve white beans with lots of sage and garlic. Here, I substitute the sage with rosemary, and add tomatoes and cipollini onions. Recipe here
2. Lemony Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Pine Nuts
Broccoli becomes crispy when it is roasted. In my house, we could eat bowls and bowls of it, topped with extra red pepper ﬂakes. You can also slice and roast the broccoli stems to reduce food waste. Recipe here
3. Roasted Carrots with Pistachios and Tahini Yogurt
Roasting carrots gives them an incredible sweetness. The addition of cumin, nutty pistachios, and creamy tahini yogurt makes this a balanced dish. If you have leftover tahini yogurt, it’s a great salad dressing. Recipe here
4. Kale with Roasted Beets, Wheat Berries, Goat Cheese, & Walnuts
Wheat berries are a nutty and chewy whole grain packed with ﬁber, vitamins, and minerals. Before you add the wheat berries and other ingredients, make sure to massage the kale well so it starts to soften. I massage kale with my hands instead of tongs. Recipe here
5. Farro and Arugula Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts & Pomegranate Seeds
Your guests will be glad to see a salad with a pop of brightness in the form of pomegranate seeds (arils). Farro is another nutty whole grain that I cooked in chicken broth to add ﬂavor and depth. Recipe here