When planning the Thanksgiving menu, I’m not going to mess with our family’s beloved dishes — my mother-in-law’s creamy mashed potatoes, my grandmother’s chestnut stuffing, my mom’s fresh cranberry-orange relish.

But I can’t resist the urge to try a few new side dishes to add color, texture and bold flavors to the table. After 37 years of hosting the feast, I look for fresh and simple, bright, boldly seasoned recipes that emphasize our vegetables’ natural goodness. Their flavors should complement the other foods on the table, and the dishes themselves must hold up after they’re made so that they’re good served warm or at room temperature. I don’t want any last-minute fuss.

Thanksgiving presents two specific challenges for any cook:

1. Getting people to come to the table when they’ve been enjoying chatting and catching up. Who wants to interrupt a great conversation? Some years at my home, dinner has been served an hour or so later than planned.

2. Dealing with dietary preferences. Every year, the menu expands to accommodate suggestions for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and lactose-free dishes, adding more reason to try something new.

The four recipes we have here meet all those criteria. As side dishes, they’re fine accompaniments to traditional turkey; together they add up to a satisfying meal when served side by side by side by side.

Inspired by the late autumn crops — the last fresh vegetables to come out of our fields — these dishes showcase a bountiful harvest. The recent cold snap has helped to sweeten the cold hardy cabbage and Brussels sprouts, sparked the sugars in those sweet potatoes, and cured the squash so that its flesh is just dry enough to roast up especially well.

Dishing up Thanksgiving sides that are deliciously simple makes it easy for cooks to give thanks.

Here are the recipes:

Hot and Tangy Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Serves 6 to 8.

Note: Roasting the Brussels sprouts sweetens and caramelizes their flavor and gives them a toasty, crunchy edge. You can clean and cut the Brussels sprouts a day before, then roast them an hour or two ahead. They are delicious served hot, warm or at room temperature. Be warned that it’s tempting to eat them with your fingers as they come out of the oven, so add a few extra to the pan just for snacking. From Beth Dooley.

• 3 to 4 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half

• 2 to 3 tbsp. olive or sunflower oil

• Coarse salt

• 1 tbsp. fresh lemon zest

• 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

• Pinch red pepper flakes

• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts and the oil. Spread out on a baking sheet so the vegetables don’t touch. Sprinkle liberally with the salt. Roast until the sprouts are dark around the edges, about 20 to 25 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally.

Remove the sprouts from the oven and turn into a serving dish. Toss with the lemon zest, lemon juice and pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition information per each of 8 servings:

Calories 89 Fat 4 g Sodium 34 mg

Carbohydrates 12 g Saturated fat 1 g Calcium 60 mg

Protein 4 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 4 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 vegetable, 1 fat.

 

Cranberry, Orange AND Gingered Sweet Potato Wedges

Serves 8.

Note: Our local farmers are growing a wider variety of sweet potatoes each year. Some taste brown-sugary sweet, while others have a mild chestnut flavor. Here, cranberries roast along in the pan before they’re tossed with orange and fresh ginger for tang and heat. You can roast these ahead, store in the refrigerator, and reheat them to serve warm or at room temperature. From Beth Dooley.

• 4 medium sweet potatoes (about 4 lb. total)

• 3 to 4 tbsp. sunflower or vegetable oil

• 2 tsp. ground coriander

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 1/2 c. fresh cranberries

• 2 tbsp. sugar

• 2 tsp. grated orange zest

• 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger

• 2 tbsp. fresh orange juice, or more to taste

• Pinch red pepper flakes

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash the sweet potatoes but do not peel. Cut the potatoes lengthwise in half horizontally. Cut again into 1/2-inch thick slices and then cut into 3 to 4 inch- spears. Brush the pieces with the oil and place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with a little salt and coriander. Scatter the cranberries overall. Roast until the wedges are tender and golden brown, about 25 minutes, turning the spears occasionally with a spatula so they don’t stick.

Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle with the sugar, orange zest and ginger. Return to the oven so that the sugar creates a light glaze, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and transfer to a serving dish. Drizzle the orange juice over the sweet potatoes, and season to taste with salt, pepper and red pepper.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 120 Fat 5 g Sodium 36 mg

Carbohydrates 18 g Saturated fat 1 g Calcium 25 mg

Protein 1 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 bread/starch, 1 fat.

 

Roasted Squash with Warm Spices and Lime

Serves 8 to 10.

Note: You can make this entire dish ahead, store it covered in the refrigerator, and reheat it before serving warm or at room temperature. Leftovers are great when simmered with stock then puréed with a little cream for warming soup. I prefer butternut squash for this recipe. It’s the easiest to peel, and its flavor is nutty and sweet. From Beth Dooley.

• 2 medium butternut squash (about 4 lb.)

• 3 to 4 tbsp. sunflower or vegetable oil

• 2 tsp. grated nutmeg

• 1 tsp. ground cardamom

• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

• Pinch red pepper flakes

• 2 to 3 tbsp. fresh lime juice

• Salt and freshly ground pepper

• 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel, seed and cut the squash into 2-inch pieces. Turn into a large bowl and toss with the oil.

In a small bowl, whisk together the nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon and red pepper flakes, add to the squash and toss to coat. Spread the squash out on a baking sheet and roast until it’s lightly browned along the edges and tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove and turn onto a serving bowl and drizzle with the fresh lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with the parsley.

Nutrition information per each of 10 servings:

Calories 90 Fat 5 g Sodium 2 mg

Carbohydrates 12 g Saturated fat 1 g Calcium 34 mg

Protein 1 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 4 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 vegetable, 1 fat.

 

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage AND Apples

Serves 8 to 10.

Note: To keep the cabbage bright and crunchy, add the vinegar after it’s been lightly cooked. This can be made a day ahead, stored in the refrigerator and then gently reheated before serving warm or at room temperature. From Beth Dooley.

• 1 tbsp. sunflower or vegetable oil

• 2 shallots, peeled and chopped

• 1 medium head red cabbage, trimmed and cut into 2-in. pieces

• 2 large apples, cored, seeded and cut into 2-in. pieces

• 1/4 c. fresh apple cider

• 2 to 4 tbsp. vinegar, to taste

• 1 to 2 tbsp. maple syrup, to taste

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

In a large deep pot, heat the oil and add the shallots; cook until the shallots are translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cabbage, apples and cider, cover, and simmer until the cabbage is just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in the vinegar, maple syrup, and salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition information per each of 10 servings:

Calories 73 Fat 2 g Sodium 24 mg

Carbohydrates 15 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 45 mg

Protein 1 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, ½ fruit, ½ fat.