Easy Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes: Vegetable Sides That Shine

News4’s Megan McGrath shares her Thanksgiving recipes for a fresh take on green beans and easy carrots, plus a sweet way to use up day-old bread

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Let’s be real: On Thanksgiving, tasty sides can steal the show.

News4’s Megan McGrath is sharing her tips and tricks for classic vegetable sides with a modern, extra delicious twist. But they’re still simple, quick and easy.

Her green bean recipe swaps the conventional mushroom soup and crispy onions for blue cheese and hazelnuts. It yields a zippy, crunchy veggie side that will stand out on a crowded table.

Or, take a minimum effort, maximum “yum” approach and toss carrots in tarragon. You’ll spend more time accepting compliments than cooking.

Green Beans with Blue Cheese and Hazelnuts Recipe

  • 1 pound thin, fresh green beans, French style
  • 1 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 cup blue cheese (I use Stilton), crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Bowl of ice water

Sauté hazelnuts in about 1 tablespoon olive oil until brown. If using whole hazelnuts, pound them into pieces first. Set aside.

Boil green beans until they begin to soften but still have crunch. When done, throw the beans into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and preserve the color. Drain.

Add blue cheese to a skillet over medium heat. When the cheese starts to melt, add the beans, and toss to coat. Transfer cheesy beans to a platter and top with hazelnuts.

Tarragon Carrots Recipe

  • 1 pound carrots
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
  • salt and pepper

Boil the carrots until tender and drain. Melt butter in a skillet, add tarragon, salt and pepper and carrots. Toss to coat.

Savory Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

  • 4 pounds sweet potatoes, about 5 large
  • 1 large onion, cut to medium dice
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cup melted butter, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups fresh bread crumbs made from day-old, crusty bread
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, removed from stems

Prick sweet potatoes with a knife and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° until soft when pierced — about 1 hour. Cool and peel off the skins. Set aside.

Sauté chopped onion in 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook low and slow until the onion caramelizes to an amber color. Set aside.

In a bowl, add sweet potatoes, beaten eggs, milk, 1 cup melted butter, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Mash together manually or use an immersion blender (that works best) to combine. Fold in the caramelized onion after blending.

Spread sweet potato mixture into a greased casserole dish.

Make fresh bread crumbs using day-old, crusty bread. I use a food processor, but you can use a blender or hand chop. Add the remaining 1/2 cup melted butter, sage, thyme and parmesan, plus a pinch of salt and pepper. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture on top of the sweet potatoes and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes, remove foil and bake another 15-20 minutes until the crumbs brown and the sweet potatoes are warmed through.

Plan your perfect holiday season on NBC Washington's Holidays page and find more great recipes here.

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