Top 5 Worst Thanksgiving Side Dishes: Please, Please, Do NOT Pass the Ambrosia Salad

greenbeancasseroleyuck.jpg
Photo by Pattie
Wait, aren't green beans supposed to be green, not brownish gray?
3. Green bean casserole
I know I'm dumping on your Thanksgiving memories when I say this, but green bean casserole should be banned from all tables, holiday or otherwise. (I happen to think that most casseroles should be banished, but that's another story entirely.) Everything that goes into green bean casserole comes out of a can, and still, it's considered a vegetable dish. Let's consider each element on its own. Canned green beans: Mushy, flavorless, no longer really green, taste like the can they come in. Cream of mushroom soup: Flour, water and dehydrated cream and "flavoring" are not valid substitutes for actual cream and actual mushrooms. French fried onions: Onions are not the first ingredient listed. You know what's easier than green bean casserole? Cooking fresh green beans.

ambrosiasalad.jpg
Photo by Steven Depolo
"I'll have the salad that looks like vomit," said no one, ever.
2. Ambrosia salad
Can we just make a rule that nothing containing Cool Whip is allowed to be referred to as a salad? Same goes for Jell-O. Much like green bean casserole, every ambrosia salad I've ever encountered comes almost entirely from cans, bags and the freezer section. Syrupy canned fruit, sweetened coconut shreds, mini marshmallows and Cool Whip does not a salad make. In fact, Merriam-Webter's definition of "salad" reads as such: "a mixture of raw green vegetables (such as different types of lettuce) usually combined with other raw vegetables." To be fair, the second definition is all-encompassing enough to include ambrosia, I guess. Still. That stuff doesn't belong anywhere but on a dessert table, and even then I question its presence.


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61 comments
BobbyFreshpants
BobbyFreshpants topcommenter

You could always make the green bean salad fresh!? I suppose that goes against everything American these days though. Need that fast food.


Chris Whatley
Chris Whatley

Ambrosia salad is more iconic than the Astrodome!

jennytulltx
jennytulltx

I like 80% of those things - the canned cranberry sauce not so much.  But all the rest are just fine.  So shaddup!

Devin Gregoire
Devin Gregoire

well I haven't read Houston Press in years. Now I feel justified. 3 of those are have to haves.

David Clarke
David Clarke

Who doesn't like candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows???

Debbie Niday Lonon
Debbie Niday Lonon

Even when we used to have Thanksgiving dinners at work as a "bring a dish", I ALWAYS passed on the exact items you mentioned in your story! Stick to the REAL foods without the sweet concoctions!

Debbie Niday Lonon
Debbie Niday Lonon

I TOTALLY agree with you...and shared to my own timeline :)! Thank YOU for a great article in truth!

Laurin Marchand Guadiana
Laurin Marchand Guadiana

Oh, Kaitlyn Steinberg, how wrong you are. I enjoy all of these except for the wild rice stuffing. These dishes ARE Thanksgiving. Take them away, and what do you have left? Some (probably) dry turkey. I hope my family doesn't take tour advice and they keep making these classic side dishes.

Wendy Klotz
Wendy Klotz

You're fucking nuts. These are all delicious!

Ben Boven
Ben Boven

I like how you already posted this.

H Newcomb
H Newcomb

Bake the sweet potatoes, slide in a few pats of butter (homemade if possible), nothing more needed. Make your own dressing by mixing up a batch of cornbread mix, blend in some salsa if you want, or homegrown rosemary, or chopped homegrown green onions, or whatever blend of savory seasonings you wish, spread on a cookie sheet and bake till brown, remove, cool, cut into cubes, fix as you would any dressing (usually by pouring in some pan drippings from the turkey until it's the consistency you wish). Trim and cut some farmer's market green beans to desired length, saute in the homemade butter, just before done sprinkle with nutmeg and white pepper to taste, toss in slivered almonds if you wish.

Wesley Burnham
Wesley Burnham

People will eat the most disgusting shit in the name of being thankful.

Adrian Vargas
Adrian Vargas

We always have canned cranberry green bean casserole and we love jello salad the beauty of it you can make it any color you want

Maria Elba Olvera
Maria Elba Olvera

I like and I always make gree n bean casserole, can cranberry sauce and sweet potato. I will continue making it as long as family I cook it for wants it.

Alethea Drexler
Alethea Drexler

I'd take wild rice over dressing any day. Glob of soggy bread sticking in my throat? No, thanks.

Maggie McDougall Gutierrez
Maggie McDougall Gutierrez

Same here, what is thanksgiving without candied yams, canned shaped cranberry sauce & green bean casserole???...they have always been on the thanksgiving menu in my family and I will continue the tradition ;)

Josette Arvizu
Josette Arvizu

Call me crazy, but I love ambrosia salad. I know it's gross, but I

Mandy Mace Burnett
Mandy Mace Burnett

The author would hate thanksgiving at my house. 3/5 are staples every thanksgiving!

Jessica Jdub Wallace
Jessica Jdub Wallace

My sister and I finallky told our mom that she ruined our childhood by forcing us to eat her nasty ass green bean casserole! I remember literally just swallowing it.

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

This. E'ry Thanksgiving and I thought I hated the holiday. I certainly understood the quantities of Jameson's consumed. Thankfully, I married into a WONDERFUL Creole family with holiday traditions that involves nary a box or can. Yay!

Adrian Taylor Barnard
Adrian Taylor Barnard

LOL! I ask people how they like the food and I expect an honest answer. My family wouldn't lie to spare my feelings so...

Adrienne Byard
Adrienne Byard

Sounds like someone had shitty cooks in the family.

Annie Schwartz
Annie Schwartz

Yeah, but it's pretty rude to complain about food that people make for you. So you can't only go off of the fact that you've never had a complaint.

Kathy Stabe
Kathy Stabe

My mom's is basically the same. I think she uses fruit cocktail and adds mandarin orange slices. I don't like it tbh, but everyone else does. I'm going to try the Southern Living one with mostly fresh fruit.

LosNix
LosNix

Two humble suggestions:

1. Google Alton Brown's green bean casserole... Awesome stuff.

2.Mashed sweet potatoes topped with crisp, diced bacon and some crumbled blue cheese, baked at 375 for fifteen minutes. You're welcome :)

Adrian Taylor Barnard
Adrian Taylor Barnard

I like ambrosia, never put jello in it either. Mine is tropical fruit and coconut mixed with Cool Whip. Never had a complaint.

Kathy Stabe
Kathy Stabe

My mom's ambrosia salad has never contained Jello. There was actually an ambrosia salad recipe in this month's Southern Living that looks great. It doesn't have the Cool Whip either. I'm making it this year.

clcutts
clcutts

I agreed with cannned green bean casserole but it  is awesome with fresh green beans and a homemade mushroom gravy. 

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

Green bean casserole is a classic, you should get your head checked.

Marianne3
Marianne3

Ah, memories of....Ann Criswell. I remember Alison Cook, when she was provocatively good and writing for Houston Press, wondering aloud how a food critic at a major metro daily could recommend food like these items above. It was a classic piece of new food journalism.

Not_impressed
Not_impressed

@BobbyFreshpants Exactly!  We always make fresh green bean casserole with real mushrooms and fried onions and it turns out great!

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

And you see how that turned out...

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

Um, me. Sweet potatoes? Fine. Candy? Delightful. Marshmallows? If we must. But never the three should meet. Especially if the sweet potatoes are pureed down like baby food. Ick.

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

You are more than welcome to my share of the grass seeds.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@MadMac I want to do Thanksgiving with your family! I was actually thinking of getting takeout from Ragin Cajun this year haha

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@Adrienne Byard I have awesome cooks in my family! But I have a small family, so we often doubled up with others who were maybe more traditional than we were. These dishes also pop up at office parties and potlucks, not just the family table. Unfortunately.

hebrides
hebrides

@LosNix

 Bleu cheese and sweet potatoes...that combination, really?

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

You can have my shar. I would not cheat you of it.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

@MadMac Is that Atlantic Shar? Kidding.. :)


MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

That retirement package and dental plan will domesticate the best o' us.

Marianne3
Marianne3

@damian58 @Marianne3  

 Ah you're right! It was Lisa Gray. 

And if recall correctly,  Ann Criswell moved to become the editor at My Table, where she had developed a large fan base for casserole recipes

hebrides
hebrides

@adriennebyard @Marianne3 @damian58 

Right, though you could argue that Criswell and Byrne-Dodge are culinary doppelgangers, and also for a while Byrne-Dodge was pretending to be a food journalist at Houston Post, though eventually it came out that she was being paid for producing a column that was unmarked advertorial.

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