10 Holiday Side Dishes That Would Make Martha Proud

The ultimate maven of home and hearth, Martha Stewart regularly hosts fanciful meals and creates mind-blowingly beautiful crafts from broken twigs found in the yard — all while ruling over her multimillion dollar empire. From an eponymous magazine to exclusive home goods sold at department stores nationwide to splashy appearances at celeb-filled art shows and co-hosting food shows with notorious rappers, she has done it all.

Often referred to simply as "Martha," this hyper-accomplished business woman and kitchen wizard knows a thing or two about hosting festive holiday dinners fit for glossy magazine spreads. Make her proud this season when you banish boring, ordinary side dishes and opt for elegant, restaurant-caliber ones.

Sure, end-of-year festivities can often bring with them a nauseating over abundance of uninspired green bean casseroles, gummy mashed potatoes, and arid fruitcake, but maybe it's time to change up the sides game! Who says your side dishes can't be as glorious as the main attraction? Whether you add clever twists to classic sides, transform seasonal ingredients into works of culinary art, or create new small plates of deliciousness altogether, there's no better way to enliven the holidays than by shaking things up in the kitchen. Bland dinner bread replaced by soft, savory Parker House rolls. Heavy potatoes, move over to make room for an invigorating, palate-cleansing wild rice salad. The possibilities are endless, which means it's time to play.

To get your imagination going, here are some of my favorite recipes for holiday side dishes, including one from the hostess with the mostess herself. They are impressive, unique, absolutely delectable — and of course, they would most certainly cause Martha to beam with pride.

Parker House rolls

Bid farewell to plain old bread and say hello to your new go-to holiday dinner side of Parker House rolls. What are they? These soft and delectable pillows of carby goodness are hyper-realized versions of regular rolls. Dating back to the 1870s, this New England classic was first served at the Parker House, a swanky hotel and social club in Boston, Massachusetts. The rolls are cherished for their golden crisp exterior and fluffy center. With their illustrious history and buttery appeal, I have a feeling Martha would gladly have these on her holiday table. Try this no-fail recipe from Bon Appetit this season for the dinner rolls of your dreams.

Sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallow swirls

If the idea of serving another overly saccharine sweet potato casserole laden with marshmallows at your holiday dinner this year seems blase, I feel you big time. The antidote to heavy dishes that bore? Put your own sophisticated spin on the classic, of course. Take the naturally sweet, rich flavor of sweet potatoes and candied appeal of marshmallows and transform them into elegant hors d'oeuvres instead. This creative recipe from Food & Wine takes what you love about the traditional dish and turns it into a sophisticated starter, fit for royalty. Slow-baked sweet potato rounds are topped with honey syrup and gently torched meringue swirls. Garnished with chopped pecans, this festive appetizer strikes the perfect balance between rich and delicate.

Crispy potato-Parmesan galette

You're probably still full from the mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving, so why serve it again so soon? There's bound to be a plethora of other hearty dishes for you to enjoy during the December festivities, which makes heaps of mashed potatoes seem like a slight overkill. Don't get me wrong! I love potatoes as much as the next starch fiend. I'm just always looking for fun, sophisticated ways to prepare them for the holidays. This ingenious and ridiculously pretty dish from Delish sure fits the bill. With only two primary ingredients, this recipe manages to produce a beautiful, layered potato side worth celebrating on all the days. Creamy Yukon Gold potatoes are layered with Parmesan cheese, then baked to crisp-tender perfection. Oh, yes.

Wild rice and Brussels sprouts super salad

Between the decadent holiday offerings of roasted hams, cheesy casseroles, and butter-laden desserts, you might want a light palate cleanser in between. Sure, I can eat copious amounts of rich foods like a pro, but I welcome the occasional bright, festive salad, too. Consider this incredible one from Jamie Oliver — the answer to your December heartburn issues. Nutritious, complex, and underrated wild rice is tossed with bold red onions, fibrous Brussels sprouts, fragrant fresh herbs, and splashes of vinegar, olive oil, and lemon juice. The result is a super salad that brims with color, flavor, and nourishment.

Croissant and chocolate bread pudding

Once upon a time, I worked as a morning baker at a popular Brooklyn cafe, where I routinely made one savory and one sweetbread pudding each day. The latter also happens to be the ideal warming dessert to complete any dessert array this holiday season. This streamlined but no-less-decadent recipe from Real Simple uses croissants in place of regular bread, rendering the sweet custard-soaked treat all the more irresistible. Buttery croissants are combined with chocolate chunks, then drenched in rich custard and baked until the edges and the top are just golden brown. Serve this at your holiday dinner and win instant friends.

Buttery roasted chestnuts in foil

Let's get real. No holiday spread is complete without a side dish featuring chestnuts. According to Live Science, the tradition of roasting them during Christmas time has been around for hundreds of years. Since cereal grains couldn't grow in the Mediterranean, chestnuts became the go-to food for a wide array of nutrients. While it's unclear exactly how they became associated with Christmas, Christians believed they represented chastity. Check out Bon Appetit's lovely recipe for chestnuts roasted in foil. Simple and delicious, this side side dish combines hearty chestnuts with rich butter and aromatic rosemary for a full sensory eating experience come December 25.

Butternut squash tart with pomegranate-cranberry glaze

Leave behind bad memories of dry fruitcake when you decide to make Susan Spungen's stunning holiday tart. This subtle and complex confection is picture-perfect, which is exactly what I would expect from the woman who cooked and styled the food featured in films like Julia & Julia and Eat Pray Love. Naturally sweet and creamy butternut squash custard is the surprising star of this dessert. Cradled in perfect graham cracker crust, the filling sits atop a thin layer of chocolate and is glazed with the shiniest, most festive red pomegranate-cranberry finish. Pomegranate jewels dot the outer edge for maximum flair.

Crispy lemon-roasted Brussels sprouts

Quit searching for the perfect veggie side because here is it. This recipe from What's Gabby Cooking is all about the glorious potential of Brussels sprouts. Once you've had these orbs roasted with lemon until they are beautifully caramelized and impossibly crisp-tender, you'll want to put it on your holiday table every year. With few ingredients and a simple oven-roasted prep, you will be rewarded with a decidedly elegant, unfussy side dish to wow your loved ones. The key to getting your sprouts to crisp up during cooking? Arrange them cut-side down after halving. That's it!

Pan-roasted balsamic onions

Give this recipe from Martha Stewart a go if you really want to theoretically make her proud. It's elevated appearance, nuanced flavors, and sheer simplicity makes it distinctly representative of the Martha canon of holiday cooking. Whether you use pearl onions or sweet ones, the technique is straightforward. Onions are blanched and peeled, then tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Braised in balsamic vinegar and stock, the onions are infused with complex flavor. Paired with lightly sauteed leeks, this dish turns inexpensive, rustic ingredients into a dish worthy of serving at a five-star restaurant.

Whether you make one of these dishes or all of them over the course of December, you're certain to elevate the holiday dining experience forever. Have a good time in the kitchen this season, give your guests a treat, and earn that Martha stamp of approval.