Low Cost /Low Starch Vegetable Side for Thanksgiving?

I have to do a 250 people Thanksgiving Dinner. I plan to do carved turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes...but want a low cost great tasting side dish that won't take forever to make. I just want to buy at Sam's club their Haricot Verts because all I have to do is blanch and serve...but they are expensive. Any ideas?

  • Posted by: loubaby
  • November 6, 2011


inpatskitchen November 7, 2011
Costco sells 5 pound bags of organic broccoli florets for about $7.00 (frozen) You could thaw them and then maybe bake them with olive oil and a little crushed garlic ( for home use I like to saute), salt and pepper.
ChefJune November 7, 2011
Roasting brussels sprouts with carrot chunks and garlic cloves makes a pretty dish on the table and you can roast them on sheet pans in the oven, 3 at a time! You'd be surprised how many folks will chow down on roasted brussels sprouts. ;)
loubaby November 7, 2011
I am considering doing a medley of roasted vegetables including those you mentioned with onion and then tossing in just enough blanched Haricot Verts and some dried cranberries for color and interest. I have done brussel sprouts with butternut squash that way and it looked and tasted very good. But peeling butternut squash is too time consuming; carrots are easier, but yet still a starchy one.
ellenl November 7, 2011
What about julienned or ribbons---zucchini and/or carrots either sauteed with garlic and butter or tossed with lemon juice and olive oil, salt and pepper?
loubaby November 7, 2011
I think that is a really lovely presentation idea, but julienne or making ribbons for 250 people is way more time I can afford to spend...think I will save that idea for my 6-8 people dinners.
em-i-lis November 7, 2011
Add your answer here
loubaby November 7, 2011
Frozen peas would be cheaper..and yes I could get the pre-sliced mushrooms...this is an easy way....I will have to compare my notes and pricing and decide. I already did make a note when I was revising your Haricot Vert salad to hold the dressing and toss at end with the beans. I liked this idea for a cold salad because the dressing can be made the day before along with getting the cucumbers sliced. Beans would be cooked right before, tossed with halved cherry tomatoes and the cuc's and dressing....and I would be offering them something special in lieu of a tossed salad....
AntoniaJames November 6, 2011
Okay, they're a bit starchy, but traditional at many Thanksgiving table, and very easy . . . how about some "petite peas" (frozen . . . they're not bad when cooked just long enough to warm them!!) with some slices of button mushrooms sauteed in butter, with just a touch of cream added at the very end? I assume you can buy pre-sliced mushrooms, and you won't need a lot of them. Just enough to add a touch of flavor and contrasting color/texture to the peas. I haven't had great success with long beans, by the way . . . . the ones we get here tend to be rather tasteless. I would definitely test, well in advance. Also, if making a salad with green beans of any kind, don't toss with the dressing until the last minute, lest it turns the beans an unappealing shade of brown. ;o)
loubaby November 7, 2011
thanks for the explanation and reminder about blanching bacon...I remember now I blanched Pork Rind one time for a stew...I will continue to just bake and crumble since I like the full bacon flavor ...and I don't think my palette is anywhere near the sophistication of the French!
em-i-lis November 6, 2011
What about brussels sprouts (blanched, chilled, food processed into slivers) with a mustard vinaigrette and candied pecans. It's a fabulous, pretty slaw!
loubaby November 7, 2011
This sounds wonderful and I have made 2 of the brussel sprouts recipes ...one was Merrill's Crispy Fried Brussels Sprouts with Honey and Sriracha---my husband and I gobbled up the whole thing ourselves..and also a chilled shredded Brussel Sprouts Salad with dried cherries I think...it was also delicious...I guess I don't know how much I would need for 250 people...are they really a cheaper option?
skittle November 6, 2011
I'd stay away from Brussel sprouts....simply because so many people won't eat them. What about kale sauteed with garlic? Or perhaps even some creamed spinach? I would think those things would be easy to grab at Sam's?
loubaby November 7, 2011
I like the "cooked greens" idea, although I am not sure if they like brussel sprouts are not everyone's cup of tea. And I love creamed spinach...but for 250 people, wouldn't that be monumental to cook that much fresh spinach..or were you thinking that Sams sells it creamed already?
loubaby November 6, 2011
I wish Sam's Club would prep pearl onions....or anyone out there!!!...but then they would be expensive! LOL...same thing with butternut squash.

I like the long bean idea, although I have never tried them, but have a big indian/asian market by me and will go pick some up and try them. AND incorporate them I think into a salad as you all suggested....using a similar cheaper recipe of Antonio James recipe for Haricot Verts Dijonaise.

Thanks all, cause 6 heads are always better than one.
Greenstuff November 6, 2011
If you stretch the beans, how about pearl onions? They are also traditional at Thanksgiving, and maybe Sam's Club has them semi-prepared. Or another direction: How about a little green salad?
hardlikearmour November 6, 2011
This may be a crazy idea, but what about long beans. I know they'd require more prep than the haricots verts, but would probably equalize the amount of prep you'd need for stretching the haricots vert. I can generally find them at my local Asian market, and you can cut a bunch together. Flavor is almost like a cross between green beans and asparagus. You can blanch them, then ice-bath them, and dress as a salad or sautée them for a warm dish.
SKK November 6, 2011
This is a brilliant idea! They are really, really wonderful, easy to clean and hold up beautifully. Your batting 1000 HLA!
loubaby November 6, 2011
I should have mentioned that we will be having volunteers plating the food...so asparagus will still be too expensive...and regular green beans sound like a great idea, but I do have to trim them, unlike the Haricot Verts which come trimmed at Sam's Club. While I love Brussel Sprouts, I don't care how you fix em, more people just snub their nose at them.

I am thinking of STRETCHING the Haricot Verts...using half as many and incorporating onion, carrot, mushrooms perhaps?...any thoughts on this or have a great recipe?
hardlikearmour November 6, 2011
I'm going to vote Brussels sprouts as well - check out this technique: http://www.oregonlive.com/mix/index.ssf/people-events-stuff/cook-this-brussels-sprouts-get-some-respect-at-ned.html
I'm not sure how you'd adapt it for a large crowd, but it is a simple and delicious cooking method.
Greenstuff November 6, 2011
I think you're on the right track with the beans, but you should check out a larger version than the haricots verts. Not only will they be less expensive, the timing will be a little more forgiving. Personally, I'd go with Brussels sprouts, as they are in season. They also have that advantage that most people don't know how good they are and will not eat many.
SKK November 6, 2011
Harcot Vertes are overpriced in my opinion. I know this isn't simply blanch and serve, but how about green beans with bacon bits and almonds sprinkled over the top? And here is a great recipe for bacon bits http://www.food52.com/recipes/14640_perfect_bacon_bits.

loubaby November 7, 2011
Ii checked out the bacon bits recipe here.... I guess the benefit of this recipe is less grease flying all over by cooking in water? I would want it crispy and then it seems it would an additional frying step to get it that way using this recipe?....without having tried this, I am curious as why this is a better way over my usual way of frying large amounts of bacon by baking them in a single file on parchment in 400 oven til crisp; then cool and crumble.
AntoniaJames November 7, 2011
Julia Child was a great proponent of blanching bacon in stews and the like, where you don't want the pronounced smoky/salty notes of bacon to come forward. Here is a more detailed discussion, from a site called republicofbacon.com:

Change the Cooking Method, Change the Flavour
Blanching bacon was a favourite method of bacon preparation for Julia Child. (I suggest blaming the French!). Blanching bacon is for those times when bacon is a background ingredient in a dish, rather than a major component. The classic example for Julia Child is beef bourguignon. The bacon is just in the dish to provide a depth of flavour – no one is expecting to chew on chunks of bacon as they eat their meal. And the reason why you blanche the bacon is because you just want to subtly change the flavour of the bacon. When bacon is blanched, it has a rounder, more porky flavour than regular bacon. It also has a less smoky and salty flavour.
Basically, blanching bacon gives it a less powerful flavour. For dishes where you are concerned that the smokiness of bacon could mask the delicate balance of flavours in the other ingredients, blanching can be a good idea. (This is probably why the French are fond of this method.) But this is also clearly just a flavour preference – nowadays, most people are totally fine with a rich, smoky flavour in their foods. Heck, some people buy it in sauce containers and then dump it all over whatever they are eating! So, for most other meals, I recommend using the tried and true methods of baking and frying.

http://republicofbacon.com/2011/03/13/the-pros-and-cons-of-blanching-bacon/ ;o)
lorigoldsby November 6, 2011
The appeal of the green vegetable creates a harmonious plate...instead of the haricot verts--you could offer asparagus--people usually will only take a couple of stalks--so you get more servings vs the green beans where they will take a 1/4 of a package! Not sure if Sam's club offer brussles sprouts, but you could have them and roast/carmelize them...finish by deglazing the pan with a little sherry vinagrette and toss some craisins in.
Recommended by Food52