Cheesy Thanksgiving Recipe Twists

This holiday, mix things up with a fresh take on green bean casserole, sweet potato gratin, a fruity dessert option, and more that all include a touch of delicious cheese.
Fruit Crumbles with Caramel-Rum Whipped Ricotta

Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

It rolls around just once a year, and you may want your family’s classic dishes, but you can mix things up a little with variations on Thanksgiving dinner staples that include a Roasted Sweet Potato and Burrata Salad or Alpine-Style Green Bean Casserole, which are winners of the American Cheese Society Competition. With these recipes, courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, you can also make a cheesy version of sweet potatoes, and there is always room for another dessert option, such as Fruit Crumbles with Caramel-Rum Whipped Ricotta. Serve the Cheesy Caramelized Onion Dip as an appetizer or bring it out later in the day when people are ready for a snack while watching football or competing in a game of Yahtzee. These dishes would be tasty options throughout the upcoming holiday season, too.

Cheesy Caramelized Onion Dip

Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Cheesy Caramelized Onion Dip

Makes 3 cups

4 tablespoons butter, cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
Salt
1 package (8 ounces) Crystal Farms Original Cream Cheese, softened
½ cup sour cream
8 ounces Scray Fontina cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Assorted crackers or potato chips, for serving

  1. Melt butter with olive oil in a large, heavy skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions; season with salt. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes longer or until onions are golden brown, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat to cool.
  2. Beat cream cheese and sour cream in a large bowl until smooth. Stir the fontina, cayenne pepper and onions. Adjust seasonings to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Serve with crackers or chips.

Cheese Note: Fontina’s flavor can range from slightly tart, tangy and nutty to mild, earthy and buttery, depending on style. It has a semi-soft and slightly creamy texture. The cheese is a great choice for snacking and melting.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Burrata Salad

Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Roasted Sweet Potato and Burrata Salad

Makes 6 servings

¼ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 package (24 ounces) peeled and cubed sweet potatoes (about 5 cups)
6 cups fresh baby kale or spinach
8 ounces BelGioioso Burrata cheese
½ cup pomegranate seeds

  1. Heat oven to 400°F.
  2. Whisk the maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and Dijon mustard in a bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set this vinaigrette aside.
  3. Drizzle sweet potatoes with 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette in a large serving bowl; toss to coat. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a 17×11-inch baking pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until tender, turning once. Cool slightly on a wire rack.
  4. Toss kale with ¼ cup vinaigrette in the same bowl. Add sweet potatoes; gently toss. Top with burrata; cut cheese to open. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Cheese Note: Burrata is a fresh cheese with a lovely surprise hidden inside each ball. When cut open, there are fresh mozzarella pieces soaked in delicious heavy cream.

Alpine-Style Green Bean Casserole

Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Alpine-Style Green Bean Casserole

Makes 6 servings

5 tablespoons butter, cubed and divided
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
1½ pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup water
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
8 ounces Roelli Little Mountain cheese, shredded and divided (about 2 cups)

  1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch ovenproof or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs; cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes or until toasted. Transfer bread crumbs to a bowl. Wipe out the pan.
  2. Bring green beans and water to a boil in the same pan; cook over medium-high heat for 7 to 8 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Drain and transfer green beans to a large bowl; keep warm. Wipe skillet dry.
  3. Melt remaining butter in the same pan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually whisk in milk, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper if desired. Bring to a boil; cook and whisk for 2 minutes or until thickened.
  4. Reduce heat to low. Gradually whisk in 1½ cups Little Mountain until melted. Stir in green beans.
  5. Remove from the heat. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and remaining Little Mountain. Broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Cheese Note: Little Mountain is a washed rind, alpine-style aged cheese. Alpine cheeses like Gruyère, Emmentaler, and Fontina are full-bodied cheeses with rich, nutty flavor.

Sweet Potato Gratin

Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Sweet Potato Gratin

Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 cups (16 ounces) heavy whipping cream or half-and-half cream, divided
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large or 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, sliced and divided (1/8-inch thick)
8 ounces Roth Grand Cru (alpine-style) cheese, shredded and divided (about 2 cups)
Salt and coarsely ground pepper
6 to 8 fresh sage leaves, optional

  1. Heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Whisk the cream, cloves, and nutmeg in a bowl. Pour ¼ cup cream mixture in a greased 2-quart baking dish. Arrange a fourth of the sweet potatoes over cream mixture, overlapping slices. Sprinkle with ½ cup Grand Cru cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat step, starting with sweet potato layer.
  3. Pour ¾ cup cream mixture over layers. Arrange a fourth of the sweet potatoes over cream mixture, overlapping slices. Sprinkle with ½ cup cheese. Layer with remaining potatoes, cream and cheese. Top with sage leaves, if desired.
  4. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes. Uncover; bake for 30 to 40 minutes longer or until cream is absorbed and potatoes are tender. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes before serving.
Fruit Crumbles with Caramel-Rum Whipped Ricotta

Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Fruit Crumbles with Caramel-Rum Whipped Ricotta

Makes 6 servings

Enjoy all the warmth of fresh-baked pie without all of the work. A dollop of whipped ricotta spiked with rum and caramel makes this dessert even more decadent.

 Crumble Topping
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup honey
½ cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small cubes

Apple-Pear Fruit Filling
2 large tart apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 large pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Whipped Ricotta
1 cup (8 ounces) whole milk BelGioioso Ricotta con Latte cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons caramel sauce
1 tablespoon rum or ½ teaspoon rum extract

  1. Make the Crumble Topping: Heat oven to 350°F. Combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in honey. Cut in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  1. For the Apple-Pear Fruit Filling: Place apples and pears in another large bowl; toss with lemon juice. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a small bowl; sprinkle over fruits and toss lightly.
  2. Lightly grease six 8-ounce ramekins. Spoon apple-pear filling into ramekins; sprinkle with crumble topping. Place ramekins on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until filling is bubbly and topping is golden brown. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
  1. For the Whipped Ricotta: Whisk the ricotta, sugar, caramel sauce, and rum (or extract) in a bowl. Dollop crumbles with whipped ricotta.

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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 son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.