Let’s be real: Big holiday meals aren’t really about that huge bird or hunk of meat in the middle of the table, right? Even if you love a serving of turkey or ham, holiday meals are all about the side dishes. When else do you get to sample your way through pretty much every type of seasonal produce, gleefully dousing everything with cranberry sauce and/or gravy? Done right, a plate piled high with sides is the true definition of “feast.”
The only problem with preparing a huge array of side dishes is that it can be a lot of labor. Most veggies require a decent amount of work to clean, peel and break down, and then there’s the issue of what happens next: steaming, boiling, mashing, seasoning and plating.
Well, we’ve got a serious holiday hack for you! Here’s how to pack the table full of delicious vegetable sides without adding a ton to your meal prep to-do list.
First things first: load up on local, farm-fresh PA produce. This is not the time to skimp! Holidays meals are special, and we urge you to seek out the best vegetables you can get your hands on. Then, we suggest you roast them — yup, roast all of them!
Roasting is, in our opinion, the best way to coax out flavor from fall and winter veggies, and best of all, roasting is as easy as can be. We’ve got foolproof methods for making roasted veggies — and all you basically need is a sheet pan + good quality olive oil + seasonings, and you’re good to go.
Here are just a few tips from the culinary experts on the PA Eats team:
- For roasting veggies, preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Cut the vegetables in even sizes for even cooking.
- Always use good quality olive oil for maximum flavor.
- Season everything evenly with kosher salt.
- Wash and keep skin on potatoes and sweet potatoes for maximum nutritional benefits.
- Use fresh herbs that you’re already using in the turkey or other dishes.
- Stir everything every 10 minutes or so as it’s roasting for even caramelization.
- Always toast your nuts and seeds for great flavor.
- While you’ve got the oven on, throw in a whole head of local garlic, drizzled in olive oil and wrapped in tin foil. Roasted garlic cloves make an amazing spread for toast, or aioli sauce when mixed into mayonnaise.
Check out our recipes for:
Spice rub roasted (paprika, cumin, turmeric, chili powder), garnished with lemon tahini, pistachio, feta
We hope these ideas make your holiday cooking a little less stressful and your table more abundant!
- Photos: Dish Works