Please note: This is an old blog post written before I completed my masters and became an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD). Older posts may not reflect my current knowledge or contain ‘healthy’ recipes, so check for nutrition info or analysis below any recipes to see if it is something to enjoy regularly or just for special occasions.
Well I am being much more successful with this than I was for NaBloPoMo! I’m very happy with myself for sticking to this series of posts. It’s probably because Christmas time makes me happy and there are just so many of my Christmas favourites to share with you all. I was originally going to post sides and salads separately, but I’m going to be busy over this weekend and I have my first Daring Bakers post in 3 months to share with you as well, so I am combining them.
Growing up as a vegetarian, my Christmas plate was filled with the sides and salads. One favourite that is lacking below is roast potatoes. I could live on them. I do make rather good roast potatoes (If I do say so myself), but it is one of those things I have made so many times without a recipe that it becomes very difficult to explain it to others. Next time I make them I will be sure to keep track of cooking times and quantities, but for now they have to be missing from this list.
Other favourites of mine growing up were of course roast vegetables and stuffing. Sometimes, if I was lucky, whoever was cooking the Christmas dinner would cook the stuffing separate from the meat. My aunty used to make me stuffing balls that were really delicious. But most of the time it was just cooked with the meat and I had to turn a blind eye to it being pulled from the bird. Either way, it was one of my favourites.
The recipes below are my favourite Christmas sides and salads from recent years. All of them could be enjoyed at any time of year, but they have graced our table during the festive season so they have become my Christmas favourites. Other recipes that could easily fit this post, but which I have already posted about previously are Ratatouille and Red Capsicum Relish.
Keep a look out for that Daring Bakers post mayhem over the weekend and my final Christmas favourites post (desserts!) sometime before Christmas day. I hope you all have your Christmas shopping finished (I’m doing mine tonight) and aren’t too stressed.
Baked Ricotta (Makes 6 large or 12 mini)
This is not only one of my favourites for Christmas due to the red capsicum and green pesto combination of colours, but it is also one of my favourites for Catering. Just make them in mini muffin moulds instead of the larger ones and they make great finger food for any occasion. You can use store bought pesto if you are pressed for time and if you are really short on it you can use grilled capsicum from a jar. The stuff you make yourself will always taste better and fresher though. The recipe and photo are taken from Cool Food, Murdoch Books, 2002.
Seed 1 large red capsicum and cut into quarters. Grill, skin side up, under a hot grill for 5-6 minutes or until the skin blackens and blisters. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until cook. Peel off the skin and slice the flesh into 2cm wide strips.
While the capsicum is cooling you can make the pesto by placing 2Tbsp pine nuts, 100g (2C) basil leaves & 2 peeled garlic cloves in a food processor and processing for 15 seconds, or until finely chopped. While the processor is running, add 2Tbsp olive oil in a continuous thin stream, and then season with salt & pepper. Stir through 2Tbsp Parmesan cheese. It would be wise to double (or triple) the pesto part of this recipe because once you taste it you are going to want more of it. It keeps well in sealed jars in the fridge for at least a week, if you can keep your hands off it for that long.
Preheat your oven to 180C and grease 6 large muffin holes (or 12 mini ones). Mix together 750g low fat ricotta cheese &1 egg until well combined. Season lightly with salt & pepper. Divide capsicum strips among the muffin holes, top with a dollop of pesto (not too much, you will probably have some left over) and fill with ricotta mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes (less for mini ones), or until the ricotta is firm and golden. Cool, then unmould carefully using a blunt knife.
Peas with Ham & Garlic (Serves 6)
This recipe, photo and nutritional information are taken from the December 2006 issue of Healthy Food Guide magazine. It’s just a tasty and not too unhealthy side that would be great at any time of year.
Heat 2tsp olive oil in a non stick frying pan and fry 1 diced brown onion, 1 crushed garlic clove & 30g diced reduced fat ham on a low heat for 5 minutes. Add 1/4C reduced salt chicken stock and bring to the boil. Cook for 2 minutes or until the liquid has almost evaporated.
Meanwhile, cook 200g frozen baby peas according to packet directions. Stir through onion mix and serve.
Nutritional Information: (per serve)
Energy 199kJ, Protein 3.2g, Fat (Total) 1.9g (Saturated) 0.3g, Carbohydrates (Total) 3.4g (Sugars) 1.2g, Dietary Fibre 2.2g, Sodium 107mg. 0.4 serves of Vegetables.
Christmas Salad (Serves 6)
This is another one taken from the December 2006 issue of Healthy Food Guide magazine. The colour combination makes it look very festive and the dressing is delicious without adding too much fat. We used baby spinach in place of rocket because none of us like the taste of it.
Steam 100g trimmed green beans in the microwave on high for 3 minutes or until tender. Plunge into cold water and drain. Arrange 100g washed baby spinach, 1 punnet red grape tomatoes, halved, 1 punnet yellow grape tomatoes, halved & green beans in layers on a white platter.
In a small jug whisk together juice of 1 lemon, 1Tbsp olive oil, 1tsp seeded mustard, 1tsp honey, salt & pepper to taste. Pour over salad just before serving and sprinkle with 1/4C toasted pine nuts.
Nutritional Information: (per serve)
Energy 450kJ, Protein 2.3g, Fat (Total) 8.6g (Saturated) 0.7g, Carbohydrate (Total) 4.1g (Sugas) 3.7g, Dietary Fibre 2.4g, Sodium 21mg. 1.3 serves of Vegetables.
Caramelised Onion & Potato Salad (Serves 10)
This is my favourite potato salad recipe of all time. It takes a little longer than usual, but the sweetness of the caramelised onions is well worth it, and bacon – well it makes anything taste better doesn’t it? Be warned though, this one is definitely not good for your waist! This is another one adapted from (photo taken from) Cool Food, Murdoch Books, 2002.
Heat 2Tbsp olive oil in a large heavy based frying pan and add 6 thinly sliced red onions. Cook over medium-low heat for 40 minutes, or until soft and caramelised.
Meanwhile, cut 1kg Kipfler or new potatoes into large chunks, without peeling them. If they are very small leave them whole. Cook in boiling water for 10 minutes, or until just tender, being careful not to overcook them or they will fall apart in the salad. Grill 6 rashers streaky bacon, rind removed, until crisp and drain on paper towels. Cool slightly before coarsely chopping.
Snip 30g chives and put most of them in a large bowl with the potatoes and onions, reserving some for a garnish. Whisk together 250g whole-egg mayonnaise, 1Tbsp Dijon mustard, juice of 1 lemon & 2Tbsp sour cream, pour over potatoes and toss to coat. When ready to serve sprinkle with bacon pieces and garnish with reserved chives.
Avocado & Grapefruit Salad (Serves 4)
This recipe is adapted from (and photo taken from) Bbq Food, Murdoch Books, 2003. It has an interesting combination of flavours and textures with the contrast of grapefruit and smooth avocado. Lovely on a warm Summer day.
Peel and segment 2 ruby grapefruit, working over a bowl to save any juice for the dressing. Cut 1 ripe avocado into 2cm wedges and put in a bowl with the grapefruit, 200g watercress (or mixed salad leaves) & 1 finely sliced French shallot.
To make the dressing put 1Tbsp of reserved grapefruit juice, 1Tbsp sherry vinegar, 1/4C olive oil, salt & pepper in a screw top jar and shake to mix. Pour over the salad, toss gently and serve.