The holidays are here. Thanksgiving is less than a month away, followed by Hanukkah and Christmas–among other celebrations. These festivities always include a meal requiring a great deal of preparation. One of the ways to divide the workload and expense–assign each guest a side dish to share.
If you are traveling by car to see your friends and family this holiday, and you have more than an hour drive ahead of you, here are some side dish ideas that travel well, while also meeting the needs of your family’s diet.
Side dish tips–how to choose
The first thing to consider when choosing a side dish to bring are the diets of the people you intend to serve. Are they vegetarian? Are there restrictions such as gluten free or diabetic friendly? What about those who are traveling with you? If someone in your party will have special dietary needs, choosing a side dish that meets their requirements will ensure there is at least one dish they are able to enjoy. Also consider what kinds of containers you have that travel well in the car, and will keep the food fresh, and safe from spills.
Side dish things to avoid
Next thing to think about is choosing a side dish recipe that travels well. This probably means avoiding anything that requires refrigeration. One traditional holiday favorite for many American families includes a Jell-O dish. While these may be a tradition, if you travel, don’t be the one to sign up for this type of side dish. You will likely arrive with a bowl of fruity gelatinous soup as heat ruins Jell-O’s consistency.
Other things to avoid are side dishes containing meat, mayonnaise, or raw eggs. All of these require refrigeration, making them hard to travel with. Easy side dishes are those that require little special handling–even salad greens will be affected by the heat inside a car, arriving wilted and uninviting.
Side dish items that travel well
Volunteer to bring items such as mash potatoes or baked sweet potatoes. These can survive at room temperature, easily reheated when you arrive. Another good choice are salads made from pasta, chopped vegetables, or tabouli. These can have vinegar or lemon based dressing, travel well, are not subject to the elements, and are better after they sit for a while.
Other side dish ingredients
Other possibilities include rice, pasta or vegetable casserole side dishes. Most people love macaroni and cheese. In the south, creamed spinach, or squash casserole are always on the menu. And of course who hasn’t had the famous green bean casserole with mushroom soup and crunchy fried onions? In some families, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without it.
One other main ingredient to work with are beans. You can make a three bean salad days ahead and it will arrive delicious. Meat free chili beans are great as a main dish for vegans and vegetarians who will pass on the turkey and ham. BBQ beans are a good complementary side dish if ham is on the menu.
One side dish for almost every diet
One final side dish that works well for almost any diet is a frittata. You can make it with only eggs, vegetables and cheese-like a quiche minus the crust. These are good for vegetarians, diabetics, lo-carb diets, and gluten free. They are easy to make, inexpensive, and are great served at room temperature. They also make a nice presentation when sliced in wedges, and served on a platter with salsa as a dip. Leftovers are great for breakfast or lunch the next day.
Keeping these tips in mind when you need to bring a side dish and have to travel will help you make a delicious, easy traveling choice. Of course if all else fails and you want to make it super simple, you can always sign up to bring a pie-just remember to avoid the ones with cream.