It could very well be a savory pear tart. Or a car­rot souf­flé or even a Brus­sels sprouts Cae­sar salad with pecans that starts a hol­i­day dis­pute.

A seem­ingly nice sur­prise and uncon­ven­tional approach to fruits and veg­eta­bles this time of year might sound per­fectly ratio­nal.

Thanks­giv­ing is a time to gather with friends and fam­ily around a table that holds mostly tra­di­tional favorite dishes.

The mere thought or sug­ges­tion of sneak­ing in a new take on a famil­iar salad, side, appe­tizer or dessert may be grounds for a fam­ily fuss.

Chances are good that if the group assem­bled at your Thanks­giv­ing table has been there year-​after-​year, the expec­ta­tion is to serve exactly those same “tried and true” dishes that have been plated before.

If there are veg­e­tar­i­ans in the crowd, one stands a bet­ter chance of intro­duc­ing a new win­ter squash or green bean recipe. This falls under the guise of pro­vid­ing a mem­o­rable meal for those that refrain from turkey or any other meat prod­ucts.

The license to color out­side the clear bound­aries of tra­di­tion invokes images of wild rice, cran­ber­ries, fen­nel, jicama, Jerusalum arti­chokes com­bined with whole grains, nuts, dried fruits and other more inter­est­ing ingre­di­ents.

No com­plaint against mashed pota­toes. The provoca­tive sub­ject mat­ter is just how will they be pre­pared.

Peels on or off? Dare to add sour cream, pesto, fresh baby dill or for heaven’s sake, gar­lic and kale to the potato bowl. Protests are cer­tain to break out.

Fresh herbs added to the sim­plest recipe can pro­duce con­tro­versy at the table. Rose­mary, sage and thyme are the quin­tes­sen­tial hol­i­day herbs. A lit­tle too much of one or not enough of another will tip a dress­ing in the wrong direc­tion.

Cran­berry rel­ish is another side that we count on for con­sis­tency. This is not the stuff plopped out of a can. Rather, fresh cran­ber­ries cooked down on a stove­top with a bit of fresh­ness from pineap­ple, cit­rus (oranges or tan­ger­ines) or other fruits like pome­gran­ates.

One great way to bring some new­ness to the feast is with starter plates. Fes­tive hors d’oeurves, dips and soups are less intru­sive to the over­all meal. Exper­i­ment to the heart’s con­tent with egg­plant, pis­ta­chios, oys­ters, figs and dates if desired.

Right of refusal is eas­ier when it comes while min­gling and sip­ping a pre-​Thanksgiving spirit. No one is likely to take notice of a rejected small plate.

Dessert is next and almost sacred. Don’t mess with that pump­kin pie!

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