We all want our Christmas dinner to an incredibly festive spread of winter wonderment and definitely not just another roast dinner with a bigger bird. Here are 3 spruced up Christmas dinner sides to impress your lucky family and guests and give them a dinner to remember. These are healthy twists on Christmas vegetables, so you can enjoy your Christmas pud, guilt free!
All these sides can be largely prepared ahead of time and let’s face it, you’ll want to be smashing it at shuttle board, beating the kids at Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit and dancing round the house, foot loose and fancy free, with your best pyjamas on. Not standing at the sink peeling veg!
In our household it’s only ever been me and my son James who eat the sprouts with our Christmas dinner. It’s partly relishing this stoic British tradition, partly enjoying eating the health-giving bitesized balls (so we feel free to down alcohol and sugar guilt-free until all stocks run low) and partly because we actually do like them. To my mind, it wouldn’t be Christmas dinner without these little green gems!
Roasting sprouts both intensifies their flavour and leaves them with a nice bite (nothing more miserable than a soggy sprout). Adding garlic, roasted hazelnuts, a drizzle of hazelnut oil and a few grinds of salt you have a sprout dish to tempt even the most determined sprout-haters with the minimal of fuss.
This is the year of the hasselback, so it only seems right to have hasselback parsnips on your Christmas plate. I think they cook through much more evenly this way, so they are well worth trying – for me they are a keeper. Maple syrup is a buddy to the humble parsnip and adding lemon thyme adds a lovely fragrance. Roasting them makes them gorgeously caramelised and slightly chewy.
Whereas, the other two recipes are super quick and easy, cauliflower cheese does take a little longer. However, there is no need to put that champagne flute down, you can carry on with that karaoke, because this can make this the day before and heated through on the day. Not only that, the cheese sauce is fuss free with a ricotta cheese base so no fussing with making a flour paste. In contrast to the soft white belly of this dish, the herb lid gives a lovely crunch. If you like things cheesy you could even add more cheese on top!
I sat at my dining table with the lazy winter sun low through the windows and enjoyed a plate of my 3 spruced up Christmas dinner sides. I felt all tingly with Christmas spirit – and then like a good ghost of Christmas past I had a hankering for a spoon of Christmas pud with a dollop of cream. Well, I guess the veg did the job of switching on my festive neurones. Bring. Christmas. On.
For these 3 spruced up Christmas dinner sides, you will need:
Herby Cauliflower Cheese
- one cauliflower head
- 1tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 thick slice of bread, made into breadcrumbs with another tbsp of olive oil
- 1/2 handful of chopped herbs – parsley and thyme
- 200g ricotta cheese
- a few good grinds of nutmeg (about 1/4tsp)
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 splashes of milk
- 100g cheese – blue cheese or aged gruyere goes well with turkey
- more cheese for the top (optional)
- First of all place the cauliflower florets into boiling water, then simmer for 5-6 minutes. Drain and allow to cool.
- Whizz up the bread, with the olive oil, the herbs and a little salt and pepper. Mix in 40g of the cheese, grated or broken into small pieces if you’re using the blue cheese.
- To make the cheese sauce, simply stir together the ricotta cheese, 2 egg yolks, 60g cheese grated or broken up, 1/4tsp nutmeg and the milk.
- Place the part cooked cauliflower into a small oven proof dish. Drizzle over a tbsp olive oil and some grinds of salt and pepper.
- Spread over the cheese sauce.
- Then sprinkle over the herby breadcrumb and a bit more cheese if you fancy.
- At this stage you could wrap it and place into the fridge for later.
- When you are ready cook, place in a pre-heated oven at 180ºC and cook for 20 minutes.
Roasted sprouts with hazelnuts
- 200g sprouts
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 garlic
- 1/2 handful hazelnuts
- a drizzle of hazelnut oil
- Finely chop the garlic, add to the sprouts with a little olive oil and a few grinds of salt and pepper.
- Place the sprouts onto an oven sheet and place into the oven at 180ºC for 20 minutes (longer for bigger sprouts)
- Place the hazelnuts into a dry frying pan and toast. It should then me easy to rub the skins off the hazelnuts.
- Chop the hazelnuts and toss into the cooked sprouts along with a drizzle of hazelnut oil.
Hasselback parsnips with maple syrup and thyme
- 4 parsnips
- a drizzle of olive oil
- salt and pepper
- a drizzle of maple syrup
- a tsp lemon thyme leaves
- Slice through the top 2/3 of the parsnips and place them onto an oven tray. Drizzle with olive oil and a few grinds of salt and pepper.
- Place in a hot oven at 180ºC for 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the parsnips.
- once you can easily place a fork into the side of the parsnips, remove them from the oven and drizzle them with maple syrup and thyme leaves.
I love vegetable dishes and could happily chomp through a plate of spruced up Christmas dinner sides. I can’t wait tho’ for some pigs in blankets, my husbands family stuffing (a-mazing) and gravy for days along with roast potatoes and a few thick slices of succulent turkey.
If you know someone who is stressing over the roast dinner, pass this page on!
I hope your Christmas dinner it goes well and is worthy of Henry VIII’s table.
Happy Christmas everyone, from my family to yours xx
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