While we definitely dare not eliminate a single one of the beloved traditional Thanksgiving side dishes – creamed onions for Uncle Charlie, green bean casserole in honor of Grandma Mamie, marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes for all the kids of whatever age at the table – the menu planners (that would be my sister and me) add a couple of new vegetable dishes every year just to mix it up.

Our aim is to balance all the starch with some lightness, color variations and flavors that hint of pleasing bitterness and tang.

We’re adding these two to our Thanksgiving table this year.

Brussels Sprout Slaw

Brussels sprouts are, after all, tiny cabbages, and when thinly sliced, the green outer leaves and yellow hearts make a lovely, delicate slaw that is a wonderful addition to the Thanksgiving board.

It’s enlivened with a bit of rich, salty pecorino Romano cheese.

Makes 6 side dish servings

One-quarter of a small red onion, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ pound Brussels sprouts, as large as possible

1/3 cup grated pecorino cheese

Soak the onion in a bowl of cold water for 15 minutes to rid it of some of its bite. Drain on paper towels.

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, sugar and mustard. Whisk in the oil and season with salt and pepper.

Remove any bruised outer leaves from the Brussels sprouts. Holding each sprout by the root end, thinly slice with a sharp knife or slice on a mandolin. Discard the root ends. (You should have about 3½ cups.) Toss in a bowl with the onion, gently separating the sprout leaves from one another if necessary. (Can be done up to four hours ahead.)

When ready to serve, toss the sprout mixture with the dressing, sprinkle with the cheese and toss again.

Garlicky Greens Gratin

Some people strip kale leaves off their stems, but I cut all but the toughest bottom stems into thin slices and include them because I like the contrasting texture. If you have other greens – broccoli rabe, turnip or beet greens (anything except collards, which require longer cooking), by all means use them as part or all of the mix.

8 to 10 small side dish servings

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

2 pounds kale, cut into 1-inch crosswise slices


2/3 cup vermouth or white wine

1 cup heavy cream

Freshly ground black pepper

¾ cup Panko or fresh bread crumbs, or more if necessary

¾ cup shredded white cheddar cheese, or more if needed

Heat the oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and pepper flakes and sizzle for 30 seconds.

Add about half the greens and turn with tongs until they begin to wilt; add remaining greens, ¾ teaspoon salt and 1½ cups water.

Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until kale is almost tender, about 15 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, uncover pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and greens are tender, about 5 minutes.

Push greens to one side of the pan and add vermouth. Boil briskly until liquid is reduced by about two thirds, about 2 minutes.

Add the cream and continue to boil until liquid is reduced by about half, about 4 minutes. Stir greens back into liquid and season with pepper and more salt if necessary. Scrape into a greased 2-quart baking dish.

Toss crumbs with cheese and season generously with pepper. Spread evenly over greens.

If topping seems skimpy (it depends on the diameter of your dish), mix up ¼ cup additional crumbs and cheese and complete the job. (Can be made up to a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake casserole uncovered for 15 to 25 minutes or until liquid bubbles and crumbs brown.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Lobster!” She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at: