Be Thankful for Cheesy Sides

Ramp up your feast with a clever cheeseboard, crispy cheesy appetizer, creative sides and ways to love your leftovers
Thanksgiving Turkey Cheese Board

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

No doubt turkey is a big part of Thanksgiving, but there’s so much more to the feast. There are always a variety of side dishes to consider, not to mention appetizers and evening snacks to nibble during that rousing game of Yahtzee. Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving or bringing a dish to share, these sides that include fall favorites like sweet potatoes, apples and glazed carrots are elevated with artisan cheeses to bring interesting additions to the table. There is a fun turkey cheese board to create and also ideas to help you love your leftovers after the big day. Everyone could use a little help in the kitchen, so each recipe includes a make-ahead tip. (Recipes and photos courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin.)

Thanksgiving Turkey Cheese Board

Makes 6 to 8 servings

When your oven is working overtime, make a no-cook cheese board this Thanksgiving. Arrange an array of Wisconsin cheeses, charcuterie and other seasonal bites into pretty patterns and fun designs that your friends and family will gobble up.

Widmer’s One Year Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
Arena SpringGreen™ Gouda cheese or Arena SpringGreen™ Smoked Gouda cheese, thinly sliced
Cedar Grove Havarti cheese, thinly sliced
Red Anjou pear
Thinly sliced prosciutto
Thinly sliced bresaola sausage or prosciutto
Mini cucumbers, halved lengthwise
Sweet mini bell peppers, stems removed, halved lengthwise and seeded
Pita crackers
Pitted green olives
Dried apricots
Fresh sage leaves
Black peppercorns
Seedless purple or red grapes

  1. Cut the cheddar, gouda and havarti into triangles. Set aside two gouda slices.
  2. Place pear on a serving board. Arrange prosciutto around pear. Fill in board with cheddar, bresaola, cucumbers, gouda, havarti, bell peppers and crackers. Tuck in olives, dried apricots and sage.
  3. Cut reserved gouda slices into eyes, beak and feet. Attach peppercorns for pupils. Place eyes and beak on pear; arrange feet.
  4. Garnish board with grapes, prosciutto flowers and sage.


Flaky Parmesan Palmiers

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Flaky Parmesan Palmiers

Makes 40 palmiers

1 box (17.3 ounces) frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
5 ounces Sartori SarVecchio® Parmesan cheese, finely shredded and divided (1¾ cups)
3 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper, divided

  1. Heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Unfold one sheet puff pastry on a lightly floured surface; roll out pastry to a 12 x 9-inch rectangle.
  3. Whisk egg and milk; brush over pastry. Sprinkle with ¾ cup parmesan and 1½ teaspoons pepper.
  4. Score a line lengthwise down center of pastry with a knife. Tightly roll up pastry to score mark, jelly-roll style, starting with a long side. Tightly roll up remaining long side until the rolls meet.
  5. Brush inside each pastry roll with egg wash, and press rolls together to seal. Wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze for 30 minutes. Repeat steps with the remaining puff pastry. Cover and refrigerate egg wash.
  6. Cut each pastry widthwise into ¼-inch slices. Place slices cut side down 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan.
  7. Bake for 12 minutes. Flip pastries. Bake for 2-3 minutes longer or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

 Recipe Tips
• Make-ahead tip: Assemble pastry up to wrapping it in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Cover and refrigerate egg wash and remaining parmesan. Cut and bake the pastry as directed.
• For best results, keep the second sheet of puff pastry refrigerated until rolling it out.
• Check out a step-by-step video here.

Apple-Cheddar Sweet Potato Tart, Bourbon-Glazed Carrots with Gorgonzola, and Balsamic Coleslaw with Candied Walnuts

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Apple-Cheddar Sweet Potato Tart

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 sheet refrigerated pie pastry
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium tart apples, cut into 1/8-inch slices
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 ounces Sartori MontAmoré® Cheddar cheese, shredded (1½ cups)
¼ cup honey, warmed
Additional honey, for serving

  1. Roll out pie pastry on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom; trim edges. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat oven to 375°F.
  3. Prick bottom and sides of pastry with a fork. Line pastry with parchment paper or double thickness of aluminum foil; fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until crust is light brown. Carefully remove parchment and pie weights. Cool on a wire rack.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the sugar, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut potato slices in half.
  5. Drizzle potatoes with olive oil in a large bowl. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture; toss to coat. Drizzle apples slices with lemon juice in a bowl. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture; toss to coat.
  6. Arrange sweet potatoes around edges of crust, placing potatoes rounded side upright and overlapping slices. Arrange apples in a circular pattern, placing skin side upright and overlapping slices. Alternate circles of sweet potatoes and apples. Sprinkle tart with cheddar, tucking cheese between layers.
  7. Drizzle tart with half of the honey. Bake for 25 minutes. Drizzle with remaining honey. Bake for 20-25 minutes longer or until crust is deep golden brown.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature with additional honey.

Recipe Tip
Make-ahead tip: Prepare and bake tart up to 3 hours ahead. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Drizzle tart with honey in front of guests for added flair.

Bourbon-Glazed Carrots with Gorgonzola

Makes 6 servings

1½ pounds small rainbow carrots, peeled and trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
½ cup bourbon
½ cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, cubed
1 cup Prairie Farms Gorgonzola Cheese Crumbles, Mindoro Collection (6 ounces)

  1. Heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Place carrots on an aluminum foil-lined 15 x 10-inch baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil; toss to coat. Arrange carrots in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until carrots are tender, stirring once.
  4. Meanwhile, bring bourbon and dried cherries to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for 3-4 minutes or until bourbon is reduced to about ¼ cup, stirring frequently. Stir in brown sugar and butter. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes or until sugar is dissolved.
  5. Drizzle carrots with glaze. Sprinkle with gorgonzola just before serving.

Recipe Tips
Make-ahead tip: Prepare recipe up to a day ahead. Bake carrots and drizzle with glaze. Cool; cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 20 minutes before warming. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes or until heated through, stirring once. Sprinkle with gorgonzola. (Tip was tested in an 1,100-watt microwave.)

Balsamic Coleslaw with Candied Walnuts

Makes 8 to 10 servings

1 cup walnut halves
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons sugar

¼ cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

6 cups thinly sliced cabbage
6 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
2 cups dried apricots, julienned
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
6 ounces Cello® Copper Kettle cheese, shaved (1½ cups)

Candied Walnuts:
Cook and stir the walnuts, balsamic vinegar, cinnamon and cayenne pepper in a large skillet over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until nuts are toasted. Sprinkle with sugar. Cook and stir for 2-4 minutes longer or until sugar is dissolved. Spread walnuts onto aluminum foil to cool.

Balsamic Vinaigrette:
Whisk the balsamic vinegar, sugar and Dijon mustard in a bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Combine the cabbage, dried apricots and red onion in a large serving bowl; toss with vinaigrette. Sprinkle with Copper Kettle and walnuts.

Recipe Tip
Make-ahead tip: Prepare candied nuts up to a day ahead. Cool and store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Prepare vinaigrette and coleslaw up to a day ahead. Store covered in separate containers in the refrigerator. Before serving, transfer slaw and nuts to a serving bowl; toss with vinaigrette.

Take-Two Turkey Dishes

Show your leftovers some love with these slow-simmered meals that combine cooked turkey with aged cheddar, mild fontina and ricotta cheeses.

Aged Cheddar-Turkey Chowder

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Aged Cheddar-Turkey Chowder

Makes 8 servings (3 quarts)

1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter, cubed
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 cups chicken stock
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 bag (12 ounces) frozen corn
¼ to ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups shredded cooked turkey
1½ cups half-and-half cream
12 ounces Springside 2 Year Aged Cheddar cheese, shredded (3 cups)
Salt and pepper to taste
Salted pepitas and hot pepper sauce

  1. Sauté onion in butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes or until crisp-tender.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in flour until light brown. Gradually stir in chicken stock; add the potatoes, corn and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in turkey and cream; simmer for 5-6 minutes longer or until heated through. Remove from the heat. Gradually stir in cheddar until melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Ladle chowder into serving bowls. Top with pepitas and hot pepper sauce.
Creamy Fontina-Turkey Pasta Bake

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Creamy Fontina-Turkey Pasta Bake

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 package (16 ounces) uncooked rigatoni pasta
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
12 ounces BelGioioso Ricotta con Latte® cheese (about 1½ cups)
3 cups shredded cooked turkey
12 ounces BelGioioso Fontina cheese, shredded and divided (3 cups)
3 to 4 tablespoons minced fresh sage
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
  3. Sauté onion in olive oil in a 6-quart ovenproof or cast-iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes until tender. Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic; cook and stir for 1 minute.
  4. Stir in tomatoes. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in ricotta.
  5. Remove from the heat. Stir in the turkey, 2½ cups fontina, sage and pasta. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with remaining fontina. Bake, covered, for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.

Recipe Tip
Don’t have a 6-quart ovenproof Dutch oven? No problem. Make the recipe in your Dutch oven, and transfer the pasta-turkey mixture to a greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Bake as directed.


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Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her school-age son, who used to eat beets and Indian food, will one day again think of real food as more than a means to a treat—and later share this with his younger brother.