Thanksgiving sides that would be welcome on any potluck table

The New York Times challenged home cook extraordinaire Melissa Clark to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner using one set of four stovetop burners and an oven.

It took her eight hours.

If you’re hoping to serve a holiday dinner with a turkey and four to six side dishes and extras, plan on spending at least that much time cooking.

That’s a lot to ask of any individual cook, which is why I’m such a big fan of potluck Thanksgivings. I don’t even care if people bring the same dish; it’s so fun to see what people create when asked to bring whatever their heart desires.

Here are a handful of ideas for what to bring if you are so lucky to be invited to a potluck-style dinner or to add to your menu if you’re doing a huge spread all by yourself. (Bravo, if so!)

Want even more recipe ideas? Find our recently published recipes for sweet potato rolls, triple nut bars or manchego spinach pies and more at

Millet and Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts and Cranberries

In this recipe, the millet and the Brussels sprouts cook in about the same amount of time. Then all you need is a quick toss with the nuts, dried fruit and dressing to finish the dish. The medley is just as good cold the next day, too.

— Editors of Vegetarian Times

1 1/4 lbs. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered lengthwise

5 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil, divided

3/4 cup millet

2/3 cup toasted chopped walnuts

2/3 cup chopped dried cranberries

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Heat oven to 475 degrees. Toss Brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons oil in large bowl, and season with salt, if desired. Arrange sprouts in single layer in 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish. Roast 20 to 24 minutes, or until brown and tender, stirring once. Cool 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat large saucepan over medium heat. Add millet, and cook 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden. Add 2 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Transfer millet to large bowl. Cool 5 minutes. Fold Brussels sprouts, walnuts, cranberries and parsley into millet.

Whisk together remaining oil, vinegar, syrup, lemon juice and lemon zest in bowl. Stir into millet mixture, and season with salt, if desired. Serves 4 to 6.

— From “Vegetarian Times Plant-Powered Protein Cookbook: Over 200 Healthy & Delicious Whole-Food Dishes” by the editors of Vegetarian Times (Globe Pequot Press, $28)

Arugula, Apple and Fennel Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette and Three-Cheese Crostadas

Funnily enough, though this salad is one of my favorites, the recipe came about on one of those serendipitous “I’m hungry and going to use up everything left in the fridge” type of days. I always have fennel and arugula around, and I had one green apple left, so I threw it in as a last-minute addition. During apple season, I love making this salad as either a starter for dinner or I’ll do it as a full meal when I indulge in the three-cheese crostadas. They’re basically really amazing croutons.

— Valerie Bertinelli

1 small shallot, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 cups baby arugula

1 head bibb lettuce, torn

1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced

1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced, fronds chopped and reserved

1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts

8 (1/2-inch-thick) baguette bread slices

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together the shallot, citrus juices, honey, mustard, salt and white pepper; let stand for 2 minutes. Add the extra-virgin olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until blended. Set aside the dressing.

Toss together the arugula, bibb lettuce, apple, fennel bulb slices and walnuts in a large bowl. Set aside the salad.

Place the baguette slices in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and lightly brush the tops with the olive oil. Bake until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Stir together the cheeses, lemon zest and black pepper in a small bowl; stir in 1 tablespoon of the reserved chopped fennel fronds. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of cheese mixture onto each toasted bread slice, and return them to the oven. Bake until the cheese slightly melts and the bread edges are crispy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the dressing to the salad, and toss. Divide the salad evenly among 4 plates, and serve each with 2 crostadas. Serves 4.

— From “Valerie’s Home Cooking: More than 100 Delicious Recipes to Share with Friends and Family” by Valerie Bertinelli (Oxmoor House, $30)

LISTEN: The ultimate Thanksgiving playlist

Green Bean Casserole with Bourbon, Goat Cheese and Rice

Most people think to make green bean casserole around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but honestly, I make this dish more during the summer, when green beans can be found fresh at the market. I think it is the perfect meal when served with crusty bread, a bountiful salad and a cup or two of wine. My secret is to be generous with the from-scratch sauce and let the cooked rice soak it up. The rice will retain the texture while giving the sauce something to cling on.

— Damaris Phillips

1 sweet yellow onion, sliced

1/2 cup bourbon

Kosher salt

3 pounds green beans, tops removed, cut in half

4 ounces shiitake mushroom caps, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

4 cups mushroom broth

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the casserole dish

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

8 ounces goat cheese

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped and chopped

1 cup cooked brown rice

4 ounces bread crumbs

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a sauté pan, simmer the onion in the bourbon until soft, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. While the water heats, fill a large bowl with ice water and put a strainer in it. Drop the green beans into the boiling water and cook until crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge the green beans into the ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain well.

Toss the mushrooms with the oil, season with salt and pepper and spread on a baking sheet. Roast for 8 minutes. Set aside.

In a small pot, heat the broth over medium heat until just under a simmer. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook until golden brown, stirring constantly, about 4 minutes. Gradually add the hot broth to the butter and flour mixture, whisking constantly. Cook until it starts to boil, about 3 minutes. Add the cheese, cream and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Toss the green beans and mushrooms in the warm sauce.

Butter a 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole dish. Spread the rice in the dish and top with the green bean mixture. Cover with the bread crumbs and bake for 15 minutes. If additional browning is desired after baking, place under the broiler. Serves 8.

— From “Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy: Down Home Classics for Vegetarians (and the Meat Eaters Who Love Them)” by Damaris Phillips (Harry N. Abrams, $29.99)

RELATED: Austin restaurants selling Thanksgiving meals to go

Slow Cooker Scalloped Potatoes

In this familiar dish, a few humble ingredients are transformed into something truly luxurious. Keep scalloped potatoes in mind for any holiday meal, alongside any kind of roast — turkey, beef, lamb, you name it. Resist the urge to lift the lid as the potatoes cook; it may look as if they are separating from the cream sauce, but both will come together in the end.

— editors of Martha Stewart Living

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the slow cooker

1 sweet onion, finely chopped

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups half-and-half

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus 2 sprigs

2 cups (8 ounces) coarsely grated Gruyere cheese

8 Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled and sliced paper-thin

Butter the insert of a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. In a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 8 minutes. Season with salt. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in half-and-half; cook, stirring, until sauce thickens and comes to a boil. Add mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, cayenne, 1 teaspoon thyme and 1 cup cheese. Reduce heat and continue whisking 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from heat.

Season potatoes with salt and black pepper. Layer half the potatoes evenly on bottom of the slow cooker, overlapping slightly. Pour half the cheese sauce over layer, spreading to cover evenly. Repeat layering potatoes and cheese sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese and the thyme sprigs. Cover and cook on low until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, 6 to 7 hours (or on high for 3 to 3 1/2 hours). Remove lid and allow potatoes to rest for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

— From “Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker: 110 Recipes for Flavorful, Foolproof Dishes (Including Desserts!), Plus Test- Kitchen Tips and Strategies” from the editors of Martha Stewart Living (Clarkson Potter, $26)

Fizzy Ginger Punch

Last holiday season, we enjoyed a white wine sangria that gets its bubbles from ginger beer, but if you like ginger and even more bubbles, check out this fizzy ginger punch from the editors of InStyle magazine. The fresh ginger pairs with the brandy and Champagne for a boozy punch that’s perfect for Thanksgiving or any other holiday dinner party.

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup chopped peeled fresh ginger

3/4 cup water

4 (2-inch) lemon zest strips, plus 1/3 cup fresh juice, chilled

1 star anise pod

1 (750-ml) bottle Champagne, chilled

1 cup brandy, chilled

2 medium-size oranges, cut into rounds

Combine the sugar, ginger, water, lemon zest strips and star anise pod in a small saucepan over high. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Cool completely, about 1 hour; pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer, discarding the solids.

Place 1/2 cup of the sugar syrup mixture in a pitcher. Cover and chill the remaining simple syrup up to two weeks; reserve for another use. Add the Champagne, brandy and lemon juice to the pitcher; stir gently. Garnish with the orange rounds. Serves 8.

— From “InStyle Parties: The Complete Guide to Easy, Elegant Entertaining All Year Round” by the Editors of InStyle (Oxmoor House, $30)

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Austin360 Eats

Jerry Jeff Walker’s still fightin’, and ‘It’s About Time’ for a new record
Jerry Jeff Walker’s still fightin’, and ‘It’s About Time’ for a new record

The sweet sound of a gently strummed guitar floats on an early spring breeze as we walk up to Jerry Jeff Walker’s front yard in West Austin. Beyond the gate, there’s Jerry Jeff, sitting on the porch and singing softly to himself. Realizing company has arrived, he ambles on over, gingerly. Ol’ Scamp Walker isn’t as light on his...
A four-sibling family plans to open new Marble Falls brewery this summer
A four-sibling family plans to open new Marble Falls brewery this summer

Many breweries, as small businesses, tend to be family affairs — but perhaps none quite like this one. Bear King Brewing, planning a summer opening in Marble Falls, is the vision of four siblings and their families. Bear King Brewing, just off Main Street in the town an hour northwest of Austin, will have a 5,500 sq. ft. taproom and...
Chef Philip Speer’s food truck dedicated to recovery closes but mission continues
Chef Philip Speer’s food truck dedicated to recovery closes but mission continues

Bonhomie chef Philip Speer and partner William Ball have closed their brunch-centric food truck My Name is Joe after a little over a year in business. Ny Name is Joe owners Philip Speer (left) and William Ball. (Credit: Julie Cope Photography) The truck donated profits to Comfort Cafe in Smithville, which supports the Serenity Star recovery...
Love music and movies? Keep an eye out for these four SXSW films
Love music and movies? Keep an eye out for these four SXSW films

Movies about music are a natural fit for South by Southwest and for film fans here in the Live Music Capital of the World; here are four that caught our critics’ attention. “If I Leave Here Tomorrow.” “If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd.” This documentary from Stephen Kijak chronicles the...
Weekend music picks: Free family fun at Mueller, Joe Ely, Los Pinkys more
Weekend music picks: Free family fun at Mueller, Joe Ely, Los Pinkys more

South by Southwest might be over, but the music in Austin doesn’t stop. Here are our picks for the weekend of March 23-25. OUR TOP PICKS [youtube=] Friday: Joe Ely, Denny Freeman at Saxon Pub. Ely has popped up around town for special appearances in recent weeks, accepting a special...
More Stories