• Best Travel-Ready Sides for Thanksgiving

    Best Travel-Ready Sides for Thanksgiving

    Travel-Ready Sides for Thanksgiving

    Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the year, as people hit the road to celebrate and feast with friends and family. And since you don’t want to show up empty-handed, picking a side-dish to make and bring along is an important decision. We all have our favorite sides for Thanksgiving, but have you ever considered what makes a dish travel-ready? Sure, that lobster mac and cheese may look great at home, but after 6 hours in a car? Not so much.

    Perfect Cranberry Sauce

    No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without this tart and tangy side dish that’s tailor-made for traveling.  This receipe from The Food Network can be made the night before or even earlier, which will give the citrus flavors plenty of time to meld with the tart berries.

    whole-cranberry-sauce
    Photo Credit: The Food Network

    What You’ll Need

    12 oz whole cranberries, fresh or frozen
    1 cup sugar
    2 tbsp. water
    1 strip orange or lemon zest
    Sugar, salt, pepper to taste

    Directions

    1. Empty cranberries into a saucepan, reserving 1/2 cup.
    2. Add sugar, zest, and water to cranberries and cook over low heat about 10 minutes, or until the sugar dissolves and the cranberries are soft.
    3. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the cranberries burst. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the reserved cranberries.
    4. Add sugar, salt and pepper to taste and cool to room temperature before serving.

    Green Bean Casserole

    This simple yet delicious Thanksgiving classic from The Food Network’s Alton Brown is perfect for travel, since the beans are hardy enough to sit for a few hours without getting mushy or soggy. The key is to save the onion topping until the very last minute – just sprinkle it on when you’re ready to re-heat.

    green-bean-casserole-with-fried-onions
    Photo Credit: The Food Network

    What You’ll Need

    Topping

    2 medium onions, thinly sliced
    1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
    1 teaspoon kosher salt

    Casserole

    2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
    1 pound fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved
    2 tbsp. unsalted butter
    12 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
    2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
    1 cup chicken broth
    1 cup half-and-half

    Directions

    1. Pre-heat oven to 475 degrees. Combine the onions, flour, panko, and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. Evenly spread the onions on the pan and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Remove and turn oven down to 400 degrees F.
    2. Bring a gallon of water and 2 tbsp. of salt to a boil. Add the beans and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain beans in colander and transfer to a bowl filled with ice cubes. Set aside.
    3. Melt the butter in a skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1 tsp. salt, and pepper and cook until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.
    4. Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute.
    5. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the half-and-half.
    6. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 of the onions and all of the green beans. Top with the remaining onions. Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes.

    Butternut Squash Soup

    Soup is the ideal make-ahead dish, since the longer it sits, the more the flavors will meld together. This recipe adds tart Granny Smith apples and savory herbs for extra depth. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds just before serving for a real autumn treat.

    butternut-squash-soup-in-a-bowl
    Photo Credit: Chowhound

    What You’ll Need

    2 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
    2 tbsp. unsalted butter
    1 medium Granny Smith apple
    1/2 medium yellow onion
    8 fresh sage leaves
    2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
    2 1/2 cups water
    1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
    1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    1/3 cup heavy cream
    1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional)

    Directions

    1. Heat the oven to 425°F. Place the squash pieces cut-side up on the baking sheet. Brush 1 tbsp. of melted butter over the tops and insides of the squash halves. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast until knife tender, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
    2. Dice apple and onion into medium pieces. Melt 1 tbsp. butter and cook apple, onion, and sage, season with salt and pepper, until softened, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and set aside.
    3. Add squash into the saucepan with the sautéed apples and onions; discard the skins.
    4. Add the broth, water, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes, breaking up any large pieces of squash. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream.
    5. Using a standing blender or immersion blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve garnished with the pumpkin seeds, if using.

    Roasted Veggies

    The only thing easier than cutting up a bunch of veggies and roasting them with salt, pepper, and olive oil is transporting them – just pack in an airtight container and you’re ready to roll.

    root-veggies-on-a-pan
    Photo Credit: The Pioneer Woman

    What You’ll Need

    1-1/4 pound red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
    3/4 pounds rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
    3/4 pounds sweet potatos, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
    3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
    1 pound beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
    4 Tablespoons olive oil
    3/4 teaspoons salt, divided
    3/4 teaspoons ground pepper, divided
    2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Lightly coat two baking sheets with cooking spray.
    2. In a large bowl, stir together red-skinned potatoes, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, carrots, 3 tbsp. of olive oil, ½ tsp. salt, ½ tsp. pepper and 1 ½ tbsp. rosemary, and stir to combine.
    3. Dress beets with remaining 1 tbsp. of olive oil, ¼ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. ground pepper and ½ tbsp. rosemary, and stir to combine.
    4. Divide all of the vegetables evenly between the two baking sheets. Roast for 20 minutes, then gently stir the vegetables and rotate the baking. Vegetables are done when pierced with a fork and golden brown in some spots, an additional 20-25 minutes.

    Travel Tips

    There are a few simple ways to make sure your culinary creation arrives deliciously intact. If you know you’ll have to reheat your dish upon arrival, save time by using cookware that’s either oven- or microwave-safe. Refrigerated dishes will keep for a few hours in an insulated bag or a cooler filled with ice. And since nuts and breadcrumbs can become soggy and unappetizing during travel, add your finishing touches at the very last minute.

    Do you have any road-ready sides for Thanksgiving that your family loves? Share it with us on Facebook  or on Instagram!

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