Alternatives for Traditional Thanksgiving Sides

Is it too early to start talking about Thanksgiving? All of the pie baking has us revved up for the holidays, and we're betting we're not the only ones planning our menus. And we know that for many of you, the same dishes make an appearance year after year—no problem there. But if you do want to branch out, we have some suggestions for slight variations on the classics. Nothing crazy, just options to think about...Instead of mashed potatoes, try...
-Something with turnips! Roast them, purée them, maybe serve a soup in a shot glass next to the turkey.
-Make a cauliflower soufflé. Here's a recipe from Epicurious: Cauliflower Soufflé with Brown Butter

Instead of sweet potato casserole, try...
-A sweet potato and sage gratin, which is much less sugary and dessert-like but still sweet. It's also great re-warmed if you want to make it the day before.
-Simple sweet (or spicy) acorn squash.

Instead of green beans (or green bean casserole), try...
-A seasonal take on cabbage. You could braise it in wine (maybe add some roasted chestnuts) or try this cabbage casserole.
-Make a kale and potato gratin, which could take care of your potato quotient, too.
-Try one of our suggestions for cooking with brussels sprouts.

Instead of stuffing (we know, we know, sacrilege, but maybe stuffing's not your thing), try...
-A wild rice salad with cranberries.
-Pasta! It's a carb, and it can be perfectly complimentary to your turkey with squash and pancetta thrown in.

Instead of cranberry relish, try...
-Opening a jar of store-bought, preserved apricots or plums. It saves you time, in case you don't have much help, it's better than canned relish, and it would be a pretty accompaniment on the plate.

Of course, our classics may not be your classics. Maybe turnips and pasta are already family traditions for you. If so, you could always reverse the thinking...

Related: Thanksgiving 2007: What's Your Favorite Side Dish?

(Images: Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan; Faith Durand; Emma Christensen)