By- Kelli Drummer-Avendano

Turkey day is just around the corner! It’s a food-lover’s holiday and a time to enjoy all our favorite dishes: turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and many more. This year, why not put a side dish on the table that’s sure to start a conversation—something with an international spin. While nothing can replace the classics, these seven dishes are a wonderful way to explore different cultures, traditions, and flavors!

1. Sweet Potato Gnocchi  

This traditional Italian pasta has been around since the Roman Empire, and what’s not like? It combines pasta and potatoes! This Thanksgiving, instead of traditional sweet potatoes, try serving sweet potato gnocchi with butter and a little fresh parmesan. Delizioso!

2. Moon Cakes

In China, they celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival or the Moon Festival on the 15th day of the eighth month from the lunar calendar. The festival is a time to give thanks for a plentiful harvest and to get together with family and friends. The moon cake is a traditional food served during the festivities. This delicacy consists of a heavy pastry filled with a sweet-bean paste. Try dipping it in cranberry sauce for a sweet and sour treat. 

3. Spanish Green Beans and Tomatoes

Green beans cooked with garlic, diced tomatoes, and pine nuts are very different from the customary green bean casserole famous for cream, mushrooms, and fried onions. However, this lighter take on a favorite side dish means you have more room for dessert!

4. Beans and Rice

In most Latin American countries, no feast is complete without some version of beans and rice. This versatile dish lets you spice it up to your liking. Try adding cumin, cilantro, and oregano to make the traditional Cuban-style dish congri. Another bonus: this side is easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of prep time if you use canned beans or soak them overnight.

5. Couscous 

Like the previous dish, couscous is a stress-free side that lets you add international flair without a lot of extra work. This dish is a North African staple and can be served in a variety of ways. For Thanksgiving, try combining cooked couscous with dried cranberries, pistachios, and celery. 

6. Asian Salad

Instead of coleslaw, try serving this salad, which is made with carrots, cucumbers, jicama, celery, and baby corn. Simply cut the vegetables lengthwise so they resemble matchsticks and combine them with a dressing made from rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger.

7. Poutine

This French-Canadian tradition might just beat the classic mashed potatoes and gravy. Poutine combines French fries, cheese curds, and gravy! You can probably find cheese curds at a local grocery store, but you could also use chunks of fresh mozzarella. If you don’t want the work of making homemade fries, buy a bag of frozen French fries. You can even use the same gravy you have on hand for the mashed potatoes! 


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