Come Thanksgiving, it’s always the side dishes that speak to me and end up getting my attention in this column. They’re probably my favorite part of the meal– except maybe for the stuffing, and the pumpkin pie, and…. I guess I actually love it all! I scour food magazines for new twists on the classics but in the end, I usually end up with the old favorites, with the addition of something bitter, like broccoli or greens, and something with crunch, like a salad.

Here are two of our family’s tried and true root vegetable side dishes.

Northern Kingdom Maple-Glazed Braised Turnips

For several years my farmers market has had heaps of the “new” small, round, tender white Japanese hakurei turnips. They are delicious raw in a salad, or cooked a la this maple-glazed side dish. If you can’t these find small white turnips, use larger purple-topped white turnips or even rutabagas, cut into 1-inch chunks.

Serves 6 or more as a Thanksgiving side dish

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup chicken broth

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1½ pounds small young white turnips, peeled and halved

1 tablespoon coarse-ground Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Melt the butter in a large skillet with a lid or a Dutch oven. Stir in the broth and maple syrup, and bring to a simmer. Add the turnips, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the turnips are just tender, 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size. Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving liquid in the pan.

Raise the heat and boil cooking liquid briskly until it is reduced by at least half and is beginning to get syrupy, 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the shape of the pan. Whisk in the mustard. Return turnips to the sauce, turn to coat, and season with salt and pepper to taste. (Can be prepared up to 2 hours ahead.) Reheat gently on top of the stove or in the microwave, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Nutmeg-Scented Parsnip and Carrot Puree

This beautiful pale orange puree of parsnips and carrots creates a harmonious marriage of the two root vegetables. They’re cooked in two separate pots to preserve the integrity of each – otherwise, the stronger parsnip would overwhelm the sweeter carrot in the cooking process. Mainers have always held parsnips in esteem, but over the past 20 years or so, they’ve become better appreciated nationwide.

Serves 8 or more as a Thanksgiving side dish

1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut in 1-inch slices

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut in 1-inch slices

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in 4 pieces

½ cup half-and-half

1 teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In two separate saucepans of salted water, cook parsnips and carrots until each is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain in one colander, return to one pot, and place over very low heat until the vegetables are quite dry, 1 minute or so.

Transfer to a food processor or leave in the pot to mash. Add butter, half-and-half, sugar and nutmeg, and process or mash with a potato masher or electric mixer to make a fairly smooth puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Puree can be made ahead and reheated in a microwave.)

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

facebook.com/brookedojny