Thanksgiving is a holiday that has us revisiting traditional dishes each year. While that has its place, try putting creative spins on sides to help you soar above the competition and earn extra gravy.

Let Plants Play

Vegetarian and vegan dining is a growing trend that’s here to stay. And the last few years, it’s cropping up even more during the holidays. According to research, around half of all consumers say they are eating more plant-based foods than last year, and more than 60% say they eat meatless meals at least once a week.

Take the on-trend ingredient of the year, the mushroom, and create a wild mushroom stack, mushroom Wellington, or stuffed portobellos. Spaghetti squash and roasted butternut squash are also perfect blank canvases for a variety of dishes. And fortunately, aside from the turkey itself, many beloved Thanksgiving dishes can be made vegetarian or vegan with only a few tweaks. Think about the classics—green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie, and swap in ingredients like coconut milk, tahini, or other products for a unique plant-based spin. These can draw in that demographic, and even traditionalists, on the big day by having something that other restaurants might not offer.

Viaggio in Italia

One way to offer twists on the traditional is by offering an Italian feast. Embrace antipasti, trendy charcuterie boards, vibrant vegetables like giardiniera and peperonata, risotto, and hearty pasta dishes such as baked lasagna or baked ziti that will bring comfort to all and offer something different. Stuffed artichokes, tortellini soup, or grilled eggplant are perfect complements to the main dish as well.

Leftover Lovers

Let’s face it. For many people, the best part about Thanksgiving is the leftovers. Recently, love for the Thanksgiving leftover sandwich has reached what feels like its peak. That mouthwatering combination of sliced turkey, stuffing, greens, and cranberry mayo on crusty bread is hard to beat, and it doesn’t have to be reserved for eating in the middle of the night by the light of the refrigerator. Serve up your own version as an LTO in the days after.

Capitalize on whatever leftovers you’ve got following Thanksgiving service by offering leftover specials. Whether it’s deep-frying leftover mac and cheese for an appetizer or baking up turkey and vegetables in a pot pie, guests will love the creative ways you re-use the classics, and you’ll be getting more bang for your buck with every sale.

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