If you’re looking to introduce more plant-based side dishes to your Thanksgiving feast or simply tread the unbeaten path, Oakbrook’s Seasons 52 is a strong contender. Blurring the lines between modern ingredients and the traditionalism that we’ve grown to love, its wide array of vegetarian dishes are sure to complete any Thanksgiving dinner table.
TIRED OF TURKEY DAY?
Thanksgiving is as quintessentially American as it gets. A time of communion and appreciation, it encapsulates the beauty that this country prides itself on: the ability to raise a family and lead a life worth living. And although many dispute whether the holiday’s history even deems it worth celebrating, gratitude should not be limited to the superficiality of its name.
As part of the rapidly growing plant-based movement across the globe, there’s no better time than the holiday season to give being vegetarian a try. If you want to truly express your gratitude for the earth we live on, what better way than to practice a plant based diet and not contribute to the huge demand for meat that these holidays create?
In an effort to not only advocate for sustainability but to expand our horizons beyond the sometimes overly repetitive classics, we’ll be taking a look at vegetarian side dishes from Seasons 52 — an American grill and wine bar — that will truly redefine your perception of Thanksgiving.
The first dish that deserves a spot at your coveted Thanksgiving dinner table is the grilled artichokes and preserved lemon hummus served with crispy Lavash bread and fresh vegetables. This dish draws inspiration from a traditional French crudités — a platter of assorted raw vegetables served with a dipping sauce — but, instead, puts a Middle Eastern twist on it. And in all honesty, this dish is best eaten when you pair all of the elements together — allowing the crunch of the lavash, the tanginess of the hummus, and the earthiness of the artichokes to combine into a cornucopia of deliciousness.
A few bites reveal a strikingly fresh and complex flavor profile with more smoky, charred undertones. The preserved lemon hummus contributes a majority of that brightness and acidity that cuts right through the richness of the imported extra virgin olive oil. And while many tend to shy away from artichokes, especially since they’re more of an acquired taste, this dish showcases just how delectable they can be. Between the tender mouthfeel and crispy char, these artichokes become a heavenly vessel for the vibrancy of the hummus to shine. The Lavash is equally as flavorful, with a crispy texture and subtle flavor that’s somewhat reminiscent of pita. Perfect as a vegetable side dish to replace your typical green bean casserole, this dish allows Seasons 52 to excel precisely where others fail: elevating a vegetable to such a transcendent level of delectability.
The next dish that Seasons 52 sheds a new light of innovation on, although admittedly a classic, is their aged cheddar mac ‘n’ cheese. Between the velvety sheets of the deep, smoky cheese sauce, golden brown crispness of the panko breadcrumbs, and toothy al-dente texture of the cavatappi, there’s no doubt that this mac ‘n’ cheese is a clear step up from grandma’s. But what really sets this apart from tradition, though, lies in their thoughtful composition — with artisan and locally-sourced ingredients taking front and center stage in terms of flavor.
The cheese sauce features this unexpected rich sweetness and full-bodied taste that offsets the more creamy, velvety texture that might seem overbearing at first. The cavatappi pasta is cooked just to the point where it’s pillowy, yet still retains a chewy resistance, its various ridges and irregularities serving as the perfect adhesive to that glossy sauce. Simply put, it tastes heavenly. With the crispy parmesan panko breadcrumbs adding this new dimension of garlicky herbiness and saltiness, this masterful mac ‘n’ cheese takes comfort food to new levels of culinary reinvention and skill.
The last dish that should make an appearance at your Thanksgiving dinner this year is the Truffled Potato Flatbread. Featuring shiitake mushrooms, smoky goat cheese, green onions, and a heavenly drizzle of truffle oil, it makes the perfect combination of a traditional bread-based side dish and mashed potatoes. The actual bread itself is a super thin layer of buttery, flaky pastry that comes to life from the garlic butter brushed on top. It’s cooked to a level of golden brown crispiness that you’d think is only possible in those overly edited commercials. But this? This is the real deal.
Finely minced golden potatoes are spread in even layers across the flatbread, their fluffy interiors and crispy exteriors making for an inviting break in texture from the creamy, salty goat cheese. Shiitake mushrooms are sprinkled about the dish — albeit messily with no clear pattern or purpose — adding this new dimension of umami smokiness that perfectly complements that slightly floral, earthy truffle oil. Topped off with some sliced green onion for a needed pop of color, this flatbread skillfully combines the festivity of Thanksgiving with down-to-earth ingredients, giving this satisfaction that makes you forget that it’s completely plant-based.
Seasons 52 combines an upscale approach with down-to-earth ingredients that allow a plant-based Thanksgiving dinner to become a reality for many. Between their rich, satisfying dishes paired with just the right amount of creativity, they truly capture the festivity of the holidays and the comfort of good company.
Seasons 52 is located at 3 Oakbrook Center Drive in Oakbrook. Learn more by calling 630-571-4752 or visiting seasons52.com.
Aryav Bothra is a food critic for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl