Thanksgiving spread Thanksgiving spread Side dishes don't have to coincide perfectly with tradition this Thanksgiving. (Photo: Bochkarev Photography / Shutterstock)

These Mediterranean side dishes will dazzle your holiday guests

Sides are the true stars in creating the perfect holiday dinner.

We may love a big, juicy turkey this time of year, but let's face it – it's the sides that make the meal when it comes to a stellar holiday feast. This holiday season, why not eschew tradition and go for the "wow" factor? After all, there's no rule against substituting stuffed mushrooms for stuffing, or replacing sweet potato casserole with a fragrant onion tart. See below for these and more off-the-culinary-cuff ideas, straight from our Israeli Kitchen.

Green bean casserole is great, but have you tried broccoli rice casserole?

Broccoli cheese rice casseroleThis unique dish is a nice change from traditional starch and cheese dishes, providing whole grains and nutrient-rich vegetables as a base. (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

Some of the best casseroles are the ones that involve nothing more than stirring a few ingredients in a bowl and spreading them out onto a baking dish. This medley of broccoli, brown rice, marinara and mozzarella is just that easy, with the added benefit of being gluten-free and full of fiber.


Or another alternative ... Asparagus, shallots and grape tomatoes

Asparagus with fried shallots and grape tomatoes.Asparagus with fried shallots and grape tomatoes. (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

The great thing about shallots is that they're small in size, yet pack unbelievable flavor. With this dish, you're letting that flavor shine, with a perfect balance of asparagus and tomatoes. Calling this recipe a "study in contrasts," Israeli Kitchen chef Sarah Berkowitz says making this dish always delights her household. "With every bite comes a burst of sweet juiciness along with the savory taste of turmeric and fried shallots," she said.


We love cranberry sauce, but you'll also love this beet salad

beet salad with tehina sauceThis beet salad is a favorite at Zahav, an Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia. (Photo: Michael Persico)

There's no better way to turn your guests on to the rich, luscious flavors of the Mediterranean than by (literally) taking a page from Zahav's book. This Israeli-style restaurant in Philadelphia, run by acclaimed chef Michael Solomonov, shared this beet salad and other recipes with From The Grapevine just in time for the holidays. "The combination is magical, capable of casting a spell on people who normally don’t like beets," Solomonov wrote in "Zahav," his cookbook released earlier this year. "This beet salad is one of a handful of dishes that have been on the Zahav menu every day since we opened."


Why stuff turkey when you can stuff ... mushrooms?

Stuffed mushroomsThere's more to stuff on Thanksgiving than turkey. (Photo: Krzysztof Slusarczyk/Shutterstock)

Before you start worrying yourself silly about the mutiny that would ensue in your dining room if you deleted the turkey from your menu this year, consider this: You can still have your turkey, but you don't have to stuff it. Instead, try this simply fantastic recipe from Israeli Kitchen chef Miriam Kresh. Kresh has not one, but two stuffed mushroom recipes that she alternates for her hungry household, and she says each one is a showstopper.


Not sweet on sweet potato casserole? Try a crowd-wowing onion tart

Onion tartThe ingredients for this onion tart are simple, but the result is divine. (Photo: Miriam Kresh)

This brilliant switch-up to your traditional holiday dinner will not disappoint your guests if you follow this recipe for a lovely, light onion tart. Unlike so many unwieldy onion-based dishes, this one doesn't require laborious chopping and dicing – only some basic slicing, for which some trusty onion goggles are recommended. And the result can't be experienced through pure text description – it simply must be tasted to be believed.


Bonus: Whatever shall I do with all this leftover turkey?

Stir-fry with turkey and vegetablesStir-fry with turkey and vegetables (Photo: Lesya Dolyuk/Shutterstock)

Fret not, fine holiday architects. Kresh says keep calm and turn it into stir-fry, with her handy recipe that also incorporates some of those leftover vegetables you were looking to cook before they spoil. Your Thanksgiving (and its aftermath) is now complete.

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