The almighty bird takes center stage at the Thanksgiving dinner table every year and the holiday has even earned the nickname Turkey Day in honor of the fowl-forward main course. But secretly — or maybe not so secretly — everyone knows that when it comes to the perfect plate, side dishes trump turkey every time. If you’ve become bored with the same old stuffing and monotonous mashed potatoes you’ve made every November for decades, we suggest whipping up a new and inspired dish that will forever step up your side game. To get you started, here are three homegrown recipes, each drawn from the diverse backgrounds of Coachella Valley chefs and all of which might have your guests wishing you a happy Side Dish Day.

Coachella Date, Parsnip, and Sage Turkey Dressing

Manfred Bräuer, Executive chef
The Vintage Club, Indian Wells

“I’ve been around the world and wherever I go — and this is my eighth season here — I like to, first and foremost, use what is local and available in the area. I created this recipe after some members asked me to cook for smaller holiday dinners at their homes. It’s my own take on a traditional stuffing with a local twist, using dates we get here in the Coachella Valley.”

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions
Handful of fresh sage leaves
4 parsnips
8 ounces local organic pitted medjool dates, soaked in brandy and white wine
1 splash of apple cider
12 ounces brioche bread, cubed
1 large free-range egg
1 teaspoon each of sea salt and black pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
4 ounces savory turkey broth (can substitute vegetable or chicken broth)
Zest of 1 lemon

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F and oil an 8-inch baking dish. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast in oven for 5 to 8 minutes to dry them out.
  • Peel and finely chop the onions. Peel and chop the parsnips into quarter-inch chunks. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat, and then add the onion and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes, or until softened. Meanwhile, shred the sage and add to the pan along with the parsnips, cider, and a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
  • Place a lid on the pan and leave for 10 minutes to soften the parsnips. Remove the lid, add the diced strained dates and chopped parsley, and then spoon the mixture into a bowl and allow to completely cool.
  • Add in the egg and finely grate in the lemon zest and add savory turkey broth to the bowl. Using your hands, scrunch it all together until well combined, press into the prepared baking dish, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, cook for an additional 15 minutes, and serve.

Serves 12.



Engin Onural, Owner and executive chef
Sandfish Sushi & Whiskey, Palm Springs and The Venue Sushi Bar & Sake Lounge, Palm Desert

“In Turkey, we celebrate the wonder of yogurt. It has been a part of our lives for a very long time, and I think we tend to consume more than others. One of our go-to dishes is called cacık. You can add it to any lunch or dinner menu, and I enjoy it while celebrating Thanksgiving here. You can achieve your sweet spot of a ‘creamy’ feel by thinning it with water. Add less to make it a thick refreshing yogurt-and-cucumber dip — perfect for adding to other vegetable side dishes — or add more to make it more of a soup. I enjoy mine with more cucumber and just a hint of garlic.”

2/3 cup Süzme yogurt (or another thick strained yogurt such as Greek yogurt)
3 large cucumbers peeled, center removed, and finely chopped
2/3 clove of garlic, peeled and grated
2/3 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried mint, plus extra for garnish
Salt to taste
Optional: Urfa, dried Turkish chili peppers, for garnish

  • Add yogurt to a medium size bowl. Add a touch of water and mix vigorously. Continue adding water until you find your desired consistency.
  • Add in half of the olive oil and the lemon juice. Stir in mint, garlic, and cucumbers. Taste and add salt to your liking.
  • Chill for several hours and serve the dish ice cold. Garnish with some dried mint on top and a drizzle of olive oil. You can add a sprinkle of urfa pepper as well for a hint of heat.
  • Serves 6 to 8.

Jewels’ Collard Greens

Chermica Simmons, Owner and chef
Mica’s Soul Kitchen, Palm Springs VillageFest,
Palm Springs Farmers Market

“I grew up eating collard greens, especially at holidays, and at New Year’s, they mean good luck with money. This is my grandmother’s recipe I still make today. To me, a recipe has no soul on its own, but we as chefs bring the soul and love to the recipe. Good vibes bring good food.”

1 large bag collard greens, cleaned, with stems and brown spots removed
2-pound turkey drumstick
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 turnip, chopped
1 whole clove garlic
4 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons garlic salt
4 tablespoons black pepper
4 tablespoons onion powder
4 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
4 tablespoons graduated garlic

  • Fill a large pot with water. Add all dry ingredients and simmer on medium-high heat.
  • Add turkey drumstick and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Add collard greens and simmer until greens are tender.
  • Add chopped onion, bell pepper, and turnip and simmer another 15 minutes or until turnip is tender.

Serves 4.