Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and you’ve been tasked with bringing a side dish. Where to begin - sweet or savory? Make the dish ahead or cook right before serving? We’re taking the guess work out for you with our foolproof guide to Thanksgiving side dishes. For a dish that’s dinner party worthy every time, we turn to roasted vegetables with the help of Just Date Syrup. Forget that trip to the store to pickup those pre-made sides. Instead, follow these easy tips to get a stand-out dish that’s a crowd pleaser every time!
1. Pick a veggie. You’ve got some options! Some of our Fall favorites include: brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, carrots, delicata squash, butternut squash, and cauliflower - just to name a few.
2. Slice it up. Slice up your vegetables into cubes, florets, discs, wedges - whatever feels right for the ingredient you’re using. As a note, cutting your veggies into similar sizes will ensure more even cooking.
3. Add some fat. Yep - that’s right. It's going to add flavor, and help with caramelization. Choose your preferred cooking oil, i.e. olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, or even butter or ghee to coat your veggies.
4. Choose a better sugar and add some flavor! Here is the fun part - choose the flavor profile you’re going for and get creative with spices, herbs, and Just Date Syrup. Not only will Just Date Syrup add that perfect hint of sweetness to your dish, but the natural sugars from the medjool dates will help create those perfectly caramelized vegetables we all love. Some of our favorite flavor combinations are below:
- JDS + ghee + smoked paprika + turmeric + cumin + coriander
- JDS + sesame oil + tamari or soy sauce + Korean chile paste
- JDS + olive oil + smoked paprika + Ras El Hanout
- JDS + olive oil (simple and never fails!)
5. Coat those veggies and toss ‘em around! Drizzle your veggies with your preferred cooking oil in a bowl, and toss with Just Date Syrup, spices, and a few generous pinches of salt and freshly cracked black pepper until everything is evenly combined.
6. Get cookin'! Next up you want to cook your vegetables. You can either cook them in a large cast iron skillet on high heat, or roast them on a sheet tray in the oven at about 425 degrees F until perfectly golden brown and caramelized on the outside and tender on the inside. As a note, make sure you don't crowd the pan - if you pile the vegetables too close together you'll create pockets of steam and we don't want steamed vegetables over here.
7. Plate and garnish. Plate your masterpiece on a serving dish or in a bowl and garnish to bring it all together. We love to add fresh garnishes on top of our dishes to add crunch, acidity, freshness, creaminess, and pops of color. Some garnishes guaranteed to make your dish shine?
- Fresh herbs
- Chopped medjool dates
- Toasted pepitas, walnuts, or pine nuts
- Crumbled feta or freshly grated parm
- Dollops of yogurt or ricotta
- Freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice or zest
- Drizzled browned butter or good quality extra virgin olive oil
- Flaky salt
- Crispy bacon, pancetta, or ground sausage
- Generous Just Date Syrup drizzles for good measure, our favorite.
Pro Tip: if you’re going to top your dish with crispy pancetta, bacon bits, or ground up sausage, slowly render the meat first, remove it from the skillet, and cook the rest of your dish in the same skillet. Or if you plan on roasting your veggies in the oven, reserve the fat from the skillet and toss the veggies in it before roasting! Anything that’s rendered out will add incredible flavor to the base of your dish.
Alright - If you’ve read this far, it’s official: you’re ready to handle Thanksgiving like a pro! If you need a little inspiration or you’re looking for a recipe to follow, check out these recipes for Roasted Delicata Squash with 'Nduja and Ricotta, and Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta, Dates, and Pomegranates. Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram @JustDateSyrup to show us your side dishes this Thanksgiving! Happy cooking and eating!