MARK DeWOLF: 7 side dishes for your holiday feast

The time is nigh. Christmas is two days away. It’s time for the last-minute grocery store trip, and your final opportunity to infuse a little spice into your holiday feast.

I love the classic flavors of a simple roast turkey, stuffing, creamy mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, but the accompanying vegetables could do with a little spicy flare.

Sweet potatoes can become a mélange of sweet, spicy and salty flavors with my recipe for smoky sweet potatoes with brussels sprouts and blue cheese. Carrots don’t have to lose their flavor in a pot of water. Try roasting them with honey and cinnamon. Even beets can be elevated thanks to a sweet and spicy vinaigrette.

Happy holidays!

Sweet potato gets a boost in flavor thanks to the addition of chipotle and blue cheese.  -Mark DeWolf
Sweet potato gets a boost in flavor thanks to the addition of chipotle and blue cheese. -Mark DeWolf

Smoky sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts

  • 1 lb Brussel sprouts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, cubed
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 chipotle in adobe, minced
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 F. Trim brussels sprouts and remove outer leaves and then halve. Place brussels sprouts in a pot of heavily salted water. Blanch for 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and place on paper towel to dry. Toss brussels sprouts in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet and roast for 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place sweet potatoes in pot of salted water. Bring to a boil. Boil until tender (20 minutes). Add to a bowl, along with butter, maple syrup and chipotle. Mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place sweet potato in a serving dish. Top with brussel sprouts, blue cheese and pine nuts. If you wish, and if the serving is oven safe, return to oven and heat until the blue cheese just begins to melt.

Lemon, coriander potatoes

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 lemon, juice, zest
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 lb potato, washed, cut into eights
  • Coriander, for garnish

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 F. Whisk together garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil and stock. Toss potatoes with liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Place in roasting pan. Roast for 45 minutes, turning once. Remove from oven, place on serving platter. Sprinkle with coriander.

*If there is room you can place potatoes in the same pan as your turkey for the last 45 minutes to 1 hour of cooking time. If you are cooking your turkey at 350 F add an additional 15 minutes of cooking time.


Roast beets are toasted with an Asian-inspired vinaigrette.  -Mark DeWolf
Roast beets are toasted with an Asian-inspired vinaigrette. -Mark DeWolf

Ginger and sesame roast beets

  • 2 lb beets, leaves removed, scrubbed
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 orange, juice, zest
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish

Directions: Preheat oven to 400°F. Place beets in a baking pan and cover with foil. Roast beets at 400 °F for approximately 60 to 75 minutes. From 40 minutes onward check doneness of beets every 10 minutes. Beets are done when a skewer can be inserted easily into the center of the beet. Allow beets to cool at room temperature. When cool peel and slice. Make a vinaigrette by whisking together remaining ingredients except sesame seeds. Toss beet slices with vinaigrette. Place in serving bowl and garnish with sesame seeds, if desired.

Cumin roast squash

  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 acorn squash, quartered, seeds removed
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch cracked pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine the melted butter, maple syrup and cumin. Brush squash quarters with the butter and season with salt and pepper. Place the slices skin side down on a baking sheet. Place baking sheet on middle rack of oven and roast for 45 to 50 minutes or until tender.

Carrots become warm and full of flavor when roasted with butter, honey and cinnamon.  -Mark DeWolf
Carrots become warm and full of flavor when roasted with butter, honey and cinnamon. -Mark DeWolf

Honey and cinnamon roast carrots

  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 lb carrots (small), peeled, tops removed, halved lengthwise
  • Salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 F. Whisk together butter, honey and cinnamon. Place carrots on baking sheet. Drizzle with butter and season with salt. Roast for 30 minutes.

minted peas

  • 4 cup peas
  • 1 small bunch mint, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon juice, zest
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch jump
  • pinch pepper

Directions: Cook peas in pot of boiling salted water for 2 to 3 minutes (or until tender but not mushy). drain. Add the mint, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, salt and pepper. Let sit to allow flavors to combine.

Baking spice cranberry sauce

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 cups (one bag) cranberries
  • Pinch each ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg

Directions: Place water, sugar, cranberries, and spices in a pot. Bring to a boil. When the cranberries burst, reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Let’s cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.

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