Everyday Food Blog

Contest: Best Room-Temperature Side Dish (win a free martha stewart turkey!)

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This brown-sugar glazed squash can be served warm or at room temperature. Got a recipe that can beat it?

You've all been there—it's Turkey Day, the bird (and the oven) are stuffed, every burner, plate, platter and fork has been spoken for, and your dear friend/auntie/sister/cousin just showed up with her side dish. Great! Right? No, wait, what? You need oven space to cook that casserole? A burner to put the final touches on your famous mashed potatoes? Noooooooooo—don't crash my kitchen!

So here's the challenge: how can you be a winner on Thanksgiving and the best pot-luck contributor ever? Room temperature side dishes are the answer! Our glazed acorn squash, above, is a perfect example. Ditto this cabbage-apple slaw (something crunchy and raw is good on the buffet, too).

Now it's your turn. SUBMIT YOUR BEST NO-COOK/ROOM TEMPERATURE SIDE DISH by posting a comment (below) in 250 words or less and we've got a prize for you! The winner will receive a Martha Stewart Young Turkey, shipping included (U.S. contestants only, sorry!). Send us your recipe by end of the day on Thursday, Nov 11. We'll select a winner and ship out your bird!

Find all contest rules and information here.

Comments (19)

  • avatar

    A family favorite side dish we serve with our Thanksgiving meal is figs that are stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped with prosciutto. Simply slice fresh large figs in half, scoop a tiny hollow in the flesh, stuff with a bit of goat cheese and wrap with a narrow strip of prosciutto. Other variations on these stuffed figs include placing an almond or a tangerine segment in the middle of the fig with or without cheese and then wrapping with the prosciutto. All of these combinations are luscious pairings with figs. What is wonderful about this recipe is that it can be set up like an assembly line for kids. Our boys have fun putting together each step for a delectable finished product.

    Additionally, figs blend well with poultry and are an excellent source of potassium and fiber plus magnesium, iron, copper, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B6, thiamine and zinc. These stuffed figs can either be eaten freshly made at room temperature or warmed through in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes and eaten warm or at room temperature. Heating the prosciutto is recommended for pregnant women and for the immune compromised as deli type meats can harbor listeria which is unsafe for this population unless heated thoroughly. Enjoy!

  • avatar

    I always bring cranberry gelatin salad, which I make from scratch from my family's ancient recipe. You cook cranberries in water and put them through a ricer to create a wonderful cranberry liquid (messy!). Then add sugar, unflavored powder gelatin, chopped pecans or walnuts, chopped celery, and chopped apple. Pour it into a ring mold and let it set up in the fridge. I usually garnish it with some curly parsley and whole cranberries (looks like holly). Gorgeous red color, sweet and tangy flavor, easy to serve at dinner.

  • avatar

    I was given this recipe by a friend a couple of years ago. I think it's a perfect no-cook side dish for Thanksgiving. It also is pretty & colorful:

    Mandarin Beet Salad
    - 11oz can Mandarin oranges, drained with 2Tbsp liquid reserved
    - 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
    - 1 Tbsp olive oil
    - 1 tsp Dijon mustard
    - 2 cups sliced beets
    - salt & pepper to flavor

    Whisk together the orange liquid, vinegar, oil & mustard. Add beets & drained oranges. Toss to coat. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

    The only thing I've changed when I make this recipe is that I also add a bag of washed baby spinach.

  • avatar

    I know its not traditional but I would love to serve Sushi! California rolls...yummm..

  • avatar

    This is one of our favorite no-bake Thanksgiving dishes.


  • avatar

    Kale and Feta Salad

    2 large bunches of tuscan kale
    2 tbsp shallots finely chopping
    2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    1/4 tsp salt
    Black pepper
    3 tbsp olive oil
    6 oz crumbled feta cheese

    This salad gets anyone to eat kale! Also it's smart to have something healthy with lots of fiber when you are eating super rich food on thanksgiving. I find that something healthy on the table at thanksgiving is important! You can add whatever else you have (tomato, pinenuts, etc) making this a easy recipe!

  • avatar

    Wilted Pumpkin Kale

    - 1 bunch kale, stalks removed and discarded, leaves thickly sliced
    - 1/4 cup olive oil or pumpkin seed oil
    - 1 tsp lemon juice
    - 2 tsp honey
    - 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
    - 2 tbsp dried cranberries, thinly sliced
    - sea salt

    Set oven to its lowest setting (175F). Spread kale on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Allow cooling. Massage Oil into wilted Kale. Add fresh lemon juice and then drizzle with honey. Continue to massage kale. Sprinkle with salt, add pumpkin seeds and cranberries. Lick your lips and enjoy!

  • avatar

    My grandma used to make an Orange and Carrot salad on holidays it was and still is my favorite, She is no longer with us,but it is not Thanksgiving without it. It is so simple, yet sooo good! A large box of orange jello, the hot water, large can of crushed pineapple drained(reserve juice), use pineapple juice and water to equal the cold amount for the jello. Grate 2 medium carrots. Let jello set up a little add the pineapple and carrots. Put in frig to set. That is it! Love this dish it makes my Thanksgiving and brings back great memories of my grandma:)

  • avatar

    8 oz green beans (fresh)
    1 chopped fennel bulb OR/AND 1/4 cup diced onion , preferably vadalia & 3/4 cup diced celery
    ½ cup diced red pepper
    1 ½ cup cubed cucumber
    8 oz orzo pasta
    2/3 cup fresh dill
    1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil or mint
    ½ cup raw cashews
    1 cup water
    Lemon juice, about 1 TBS or to taste
    S&P to taste

    Combine cashews and water and put in fridge. Let soak overnight or about 4 hours.

    Cook green beans in large sauscepan of boiling salted water until just tender, about 5 min. Remove and cool. Use same water to cook orzo, until tender. Drain

    Blend in food processor cashews and their water, dill, basil, garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.

    Cut beans crosswise into ½ (or smaller) pieces. Place in large bowl. Add orzo, cucumber, red pepper, fennel (or onion/celery mix). Mix in dressing. Season more to taste.

    if you like a little sweet, throw in some halved red seedless grapes!

    I like this recipe bc it's easy to adjust. You can infuse the cashew cream with whatever you like - curry, tex-mex flavors, etc so definately fit the tastebuds of any family.

  • avatar

    With all of that rich food, something refreshing and crispy is my answer. And since a dressed leafy salad tends to wilt sitting around my go to is always a delicious anisey fennel which compliments Thanksgiving flavors perfectly, and is super easy to make.

    Thanksgiving Fennel Salad

    Yield: 9-10 servings.
    3 Fennel bulbs, whites sliced into quarter inch by two inch pieces. Reserve some greens for garnish.
    The juice of 2 lemons.
    About a 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil.
    A handful of grated parmigiano-reggiano.
    Sea or kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

    Make the dressing then toss the fennel to coat. Sprinkle some of the greens over the top. It's delicious as is but also fabulous dressed up with mandarin oranges, and fresh goat cheese if you want to get a bit fancier.

  • avatar

    You can make this a day ahead!

    Gluten Free Cornbread Stuffing Recipe


    1 lb cooked bacon
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 cup celery, diced
    3 carrots, minced
    1 cup onion, diced
    4 cups Gluten Free Cornbread, diced
    poultry seasoning, to taste
    paprika, to taste
    red pepper, just a pinch
    sea salt, to taste
    pepper, to taste
    1 cup gluten free chicken broth

    Preheat oven to 375°F.
    On the stove, preheat a sauté pan over medium heat with a thin layer olive oil.
    Add the celery, onion and carrots to pan and cook.
    After the vegetables begin to turn translucent, add the spices and cook an additional minute.
    Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
    Add the cup of chicken broth and bring to a boil.
    Place the cubed cornbread and cooked bacon in a bowl.
    After the vegetable mixture has come to boil, pour over the cornbread.
    Mix everything together until well combined.
    Adjust seasonings if needed.
    Place the mixture in an oven-proof casserole dish and bake for approximately 25 to 30 minutes.
    If desired, place under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the top.

  • avatar

    Broccoli Salad

    2 cups raw broccoli
    1 cup grated cheddar
    1/2 lb of bacon, broken into pieces

    Mix together with 1/3 cup of sugar, 1 cup of mayo, and 2 tbs of vinegar. Let set in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.

  • avatar

    one jar marinated artichoke hearts--you can use just plain,too
    handful chopped Calamata olives
    a few sundried tomatoes sliced thin
    Sweet red onion sliced thin
    Red wine vinegar
    Olive oil
    Salt and pepper
    A tad bit of sugar
    Bowtie pasta

    I'm not good following recipes and I'm really NOT GOOD at writing recipes. But I throw all these ingredients together when company comes--they love it every time.

  • avatar

    One of the favorite parts of this season for me: cranberries. I love them in many recipes but this simple one always surprises our guests.

    Cranberry Orange Relish with Honey & Triple Sec

    2 oranges, peeled, seeded, sectioned, with membrane removed
    12 oz. cranberries, fresh if possible, but frozen cranberries work, too
    1/2 c honey (local, of course)
    2 T triple sec

    Completely puree the orange sections in a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until desired consistency. I like the cranberries to still be chunky. This relish will keep refrigerated for several days (if you have any left!) and is good served both chilled or at room temperature.


  • avatar

    My dad had 2 acres of land which he planted all kinds of vegetables. One night he was eating a salad made up of tomatoes, cucumbers, and plan old mayonnaise,with salt and pepper. The juice of the tomatoes and the mayonnaise, make the best tasting salad dressing. I served this salad to a friend, and he raved about the dressing.Said he never tasted a salad dressing as good at that. I finally told him the dressing was mayonnaise. This salad is best with fresh garden tomatoes and cucumbers.

  • avatar

    Asparagus Amore
    1 bunch asparagus with 1/3 bottom stalk cut off
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 tablespoon water
    1 teaspoon coarse salt
    1 teaspoon pepper
    1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese shredded
    Place asparagus in microwave safe bowl and drizzle olive oil over asparagus evenly. Place water in dish. Salt & pepper asparagus and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove and sprinkle parmesan cheese evenly over asparagus. May serve warm, room temperature, or if made the day before you can serve this cold the next day. It is actually better if made the day before and served cold. Yields 4 servings. Recipe may be doubled or tripled.

  • avatar

    I'd like to share a fabulous recipe that my family enjoys very much, a delicious Sensational Sweet Potato Salad. The sweet potatoes are delicious raw, and with pineapple, cranberries, apple, and sunflower seeds, it is sure to be the Best no-cook side-dish on your Thanksgiving table! Not only is it absolutely delicious, but packed full nutritional benefits! It's a Thanksgiving dish you can feel great about as you enjoy each bite!
    To prepare: simply shred 2 large sweet potatoes (or yams) and 2 medium granny smith apples (a cheese grater works well, or use a processor to make it extra fast!), and place them into a large bowl. Add in 1 cup of dried sweetened cranberries, 1 cup of crushed pineapple, and 3/4 cup roasted sunflower nuts (sunflower seeds with the shells removed). Squeeze the juice of 2 oranges over the salad, and stir well to combine. Enjoy!!! This super simple and fast salad serves about 6.

  • avatar

    This is an adaptation of the gelatin based cranberry salad my grandma would always make.

    Cranberry Slaw
    12 oz fresh cranberries
    1 cup sugar
    1 orange, peeled and cut into chunks
    1 cup chopped celery
    1 granny smith apple, cored and cut into chunks
    1 cup FRESH pineapple

    Grind cranberries in food processor, set aside in a large bowl and mix in sugar.

    Grind orange, celery, apple and pineapple in food processor, combine with cranberries.

    Chill until it's time to serve.

  • avatar

    This salad is a colorful, refreshing and nutritious side dish--not just for Thanksgiving, but for any meal. It uses ordinary ingredients in a novel way, and is sure to become a holiday tradition in no time!

    Mixed Citrus Salad with Frisee, Fresh Beets, and Grapefruit Vinaigrette

    Grapefruit Vinaigrette

    ½ tbsp. finely minced shallot
    1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
    ¼ tsp. salt
    ¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper
    2 tbsp. grapefruit juice
    1 tablespoon brown sugar
    1 tsp. sushi vinegar
    3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

    Grapefruit Salad

    8 cups frisee
    1 ruby red grapefruit, segmented
    1 white grapefruit, segmented
    2 oranges, segmented
    ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
    ¼ cup fresh cilantro, minced and tightly packed
    1 cup snow peas, julienned
    1 medium carrot, grated
    2 small raw beets, grated
    ½ cup slivered almonds
    6 sprigs fresh mint, for garnish (optional)

    Mix all grapefruit vinaigrette ingredients in a screw-cap jar. Shake until combined, and set aside.

    On a large platter, place frisee, grapefruit, orange, onion, cilantro, snow peas, grated carrots, and beets. Garnish with slivered almonds and fresh mint (optional).

    Drizzle salad with grapefruit vinaigrette and serve immediately.

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