Looking for some inspiring side dishes to bring to Thanksgiving? You’ve come to the right place!
Guys, Thanksgiving is right around the corner!
This year I’m going to focus on beautiful, real-food dishes to share with the family. I thought it would be fun to share some of the recipes I’ve been drooling over and ask a bit of advice on which ones you think I should cook.
Of course, I’d also love to know if you decide to make one for your own festivities! These are all ideas of beautiful side dishes to bring to Thanksgiving that deviate from the standard mashed potatoes and dressing.
Now that I’m basically a wines of Italy expert (ahem, maybe) thanks to my partnership with the Italian Trade Commission, I feel confident picking out some gorgeous reds to enjoy with our meal.
I’m sharing those choices with you today because I’m just nice like that.
Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that calls for incredible wine. I’m going to tell you all about three big, beautiful Italian reds that will pair perfectly with your feast. Each one has a gorgeous garnet color and an incredibly smooth body.
These are the kind wines your guests will ask you about!
Wine Choice #1: Valpolicella Ripasso
Valpolicella is an appellation from Verona in the Veneto region of Northeast Italy. The soil in this region is really rich in minerals, which gives great structure to wines produced here.
The vines used in the production of Valpolicella are predominantly Corvina and Corvinone, with small amounts allowed of Rondinella, Molinara, and possibly Croatina or Oseleta. The “Ripasso” style of wines from Valpolicella makes an intense wine with a really velvety palate. I
personally love the bouquet of this wine, usually leather and tobacco, with a bit of cinnamon. The nose is a bit more prune with hints of cherry and chocolate. Everything about this smooth wine is intense, round, and rich!
When your guests ask about this wine (and they will!), be sure to mention the use of the unique “Ripasso” technique, from which this appellation earned its name. Ripasso (meaning “re-pass”) is a process during fermentation where the skins of dried grapes that were pressed to make Amarone (made exclusively from dried grapes and thus an expensive wine to produce) are added into the vats of already fermenting Valpolicella wine.
That wine will be completing its malolactic fermentation at that point. The skins are added to donate the residual sweetness that characterizes the Amarone flavor profile into the Valpo as a way to acquire similar richness without the cost of relying exclusively on raisined grapes.
This technique adds complexity, making this wine a great candidate for aging. When you buy Valpolicella Ripasso it has already been aged for eighteen months in oak and four months in the bottle. After you find a bottle you love, buy a few extra and age them for another 5-7 years for an extraordinary treat!
Wine Choice #2: Barbera d’Alba
Another fantastically smooth wine, Barbera d’Alba hails from the Cuneo province in the Piedmont region of Northwestern Italy.
The westernmost region of Italy (bordering both France and Switzerland), Piedmont is known for beautiful rolling hills and chalky, limestone-rich clay which produces exceptional grapes.
Piedmont is at the foot of the mountains with a hot, dry, and sunny climate lending itself towards fantastic grape production.
Wines with the Barbera d’Alba designation are made with a minimum of 85% Barbera grapes, with up to 15% percent allowed of Nebbiolo grapes. Barbera grapes were once considered to be “common” (meaning only used in table wines), but thanks to new techniques, that perception has completely changed in recent years.
Wines made from Barbera grapes are known for their beautiful color (be sure to check out the gorgeous purple reflections in the glass), low tannins, and high acidity.
These wines are best when bottle-aged a few years to allow the tannins, acidity, fruit, and oak to all mellow together and integrate.
When you sip this beautiful wine, you’ll taste hints of dark fruits with a bit of balsamic, delicate baking spices, and sometimes a whisper of licorice.
Smooth, stunning, and perfect for a holiday meal!
Wine Choice #3: Cannonau di Sardegna
My third recommendation is Cannonau di Sardegna, from the island of Sardinia (<– U.S. spelling).
The second largest island in in the Mediterranean (after Sicily!), Sardinia is a rugged island with sandy coastlines and interior mountains.
The vineyards on the rugged Eastern coastal range grow the rich, red Cannonau grapes required this produce this appellation.
The official Cannonau di Sardegna designation can be used for the entire region of Sardinia. The towns of Oliena, Dorgali, Jerzu, and Cape Ferrato produce particularly notable wines from their Cannonau grapes.
Cannonau is believed by some to have originated on the island of Sardinia while others argue the grape comes from Spain (where it is known as Garnacha). Wherever it originated from, this grape is one of my personal favorites.
Cannonau di Sardegna often has an aroma of Mediterranean scrub and rosemary, which makes it an obvious choice for a holiday meal. It is robust, well-structured on the palate, with evident tannins and a complex, sweet finish of minerals.
I find that this wine goes particularly well with anything garlicky!
Okay, now that we’ve got the wine selections down pat, let’s talk about the food. Without further ado, here are…
Sixteen Sumptuous Side Dishes to Bring to Thanksgiving!
Okay, starting things off here with something that isn’t really a side dish. Technically this is more of an appetizer, but I don’t think anyone will complain.
These roasted grape crostinis with whipped ricotta are sure to become a family favorite!
Holy gorgeous pierogi! These beauties from Eating European would be a lovely addition to the hors d’oeuvres menu. Butternut squash is a perfect flavor for autumn, and I love the addition of feta cheese for creaminess.
We eat tons of endive over here, but usually it’s just raw in salads. When I saw these gorgeous sauteed endives from Spanglish Spoon, I knew I had to put them on the menu!
This salad comes from This Healthy Table, and I really want it on my healthy table. Brussels sprouts, kale, apples, walnuts, aged cheese… could anything be more perfect?
Can’t you just see this gorgeous salad piled high on an oval serving platter? The Bojon Gourmet serves this warm and cozy with a yogurt-dill sauce. Yum!
Mushrooms are always a good idea in the autumn, and this roasted version from Closet Cooking looks perfect for a fancy meal. Plus, brown butter is good on everything.
This is one of my own concoctions, so I’m quite partial to it.
My partner’s mother is half Italian and fully vegetarian, so I know she would love these braised flat beans!
These roasted Brussels sprouts from Primavera Kitchen are calling to me. I love a beautiful golden-brown vegetable, especially one covered in garlic and Parmesan.
I don’t think any Thanksgiving table would be complete without this stunning dish from Cookie and Kate.
Don’t you just love the brilliant color of this pumpkin risotto from Platings and Pairings? This is definitely a great side dish to bring to Thanksgiving, especially if you have some vegetarians in the group who need something hearty.
Sweet potatoes are a requirement at my Thanksgiving table, and these twice-baked beauties from Savory Nothings are at the top of my list.
I adore beets, but I really hate the way they stain everything in sight. Enter, the GOLDEN BEET! Running to the Kitchen has us covered with this gorgeous golden beet gratin. Cheese is life, guys.
Another very pretty option for a side dish! I happen to love asparagus, but this recipe from Cafe Delites makes me love it even more.
This squash from Well Plated is almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
Another perfect idea for the meatless eaters in your group! This Cassoulet from Feed Me Phoebe looks fantastic and filling.
Wild rice is already a great idea for Thanksgiving, but this version from Carlsbad Cravings adds cranberries, apples, and pecans to it! Isn’t it pretty?
Okay, folks. That about wraps up today’s post! I hope you got some brilliant ideas for side dishes to bring to Thanksgiving. I’d love if you left me a comment telling me which ones you’ll be featuring at your Thanksgiving!