What Chefs Bring To Friendsgiving


Friendsgiving has become...a thing. Like its name implies, it merges the best parts of the holiday season —  companionship and generosity. If you’re invited to a Friendsgiving dinner this year, don’t show up empty-handed. And if you’re hosting a Friendsgiving gathering, be sure to offer guests suggestions of what to bring. We’ve asked a few of our chef friends to share side dishes they would bring to a Friendsgiving dinner. Take notes. Their choices are guaranteed to be the talk of the party.

Margot McCormack

Margot Cafe & Bar, Nashville, Tenn.

Mom’s Candied Sweet Potatoes
“They are my favorites and no one else makes them just like she did. So good — they’re always the first to go.”

Ricky Moore 

Saltbox Seafood Joint, Durham, N.C.
Morasa Polo (or Persian Jewelled rice)
“The flavor profile of this dish is very reminiscent of what we enjoyed traditionally on the Thanksgiving table. I learned this rice preparation while working in international hotels. It consists of sweetened orange peel, dried barberries, carrots, toasted almonds and pistachios. It's a very colorful and festive side and you are guaranteed to make a new friend once they taste it.”

Sandra Gutierrez

Rice and Hearts of Palm Casserole
“It’s a perfect accouterment for turkey and gravy and a great substitute for mashed potatoes. It’s studded with chopped pimentos and topped with melted cheese and freshly chopped cilantro. It’s a favorite with vegetarian friends who forgo the bird altogether. I just love it because it’s comforting and a family favorite.”

Cheetie Kumar

Garland Restaurant, Raleigh, N.C.

“I love Thanksgiving time of year. I can narrow [my Friendsgiving sides] down to two or three items. I believe in testing the weight limit of the dining table at Thanksgiving!

One staple I find myself repeating is a really simple slaw of raw turnip and crisp apple. I julienne both on my mandoline, but a box grater is just fine. I prefer a crispy, tart-sweet apple, such as Mutsu or Honeycrisp, but a Granny Smith is good, too. And I use a mixture of purple top and hakurei turnips. Dress as soon as possible with lemon juice, a little neutral untoasted sesame oil, some chopped (curly!) parsley, nice amount of black pepper, salt and pomegranate seeds. I like a crunchy acidic element on the Thanksgiving plate and this brings that to the party with a little guilt-relieving bonus —  it's very healthy and very simple to make.

I also love the oysters this time of year. If the gathering is small enough, I think a nice pre-meal cocktail snack is some roasted (or raw) oysters with a little creme fraiche and pickled shallots.

If it's too many people to shuck oysters for, it's hard to resist oyster casserole. Assemble it before you get to dinner and pop it in the oven before dinner —- but you have to coordinate with your host to make sure the oven isn't in high demand. 

I don't think a Thanksgiving meal is complete without roasted vegetables. I love a mixture of various autumn and winter squashes such as butternut, acorn and kabocha tossed in canola oil, a little cumin, fennel seed, salt and pepper and roasted simply on a preheated sheet pan in a 375-degree oven. When they are cooked through and starting to caramelize, heat up a little mustard oil, melt in some butter, a little ground coriander, brown sugar and chili flake. Toss it all to combine and cook for another two to three minutes. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds (candied if you're feeling fancy) or anything else that strikes your fancy.”