Unconventional and Enticing Holiday Menus
In the spirit of making lemonade out of lemons: Consider breaking with some traditions when it comes to holiday menus this year. Smaller gatherings and unconventional celebrations call for kitchen creativity—and you can embrace it by making whatever you want. Intimate seafood feast for two? Absolutely. Skipping the roast and going all in on sides? Sure, why not. Sitting down to a party-worthy spread of apps, hold the party? Thought you’d never ask.
Cooking seafood for a crowd can be intimidating—good-quality fish tends to be expensive and cook times are often unforgiving. If you’ve got a small gathering, however, seafood can be a great option, even if you’re new to it. Take advantage of your low-key holiday and try one of these stellar celebratory dishes.
Cioppino is a classic San Francisco fish stew made with tomatoes, fennel, oregano, white wine, and a mix of seafood commonly found in the Pacific Ocean, such as Dungeness crab, mussels, halibut, shrimp, and clams. We simplified with just halibut, clams, and shrimp in this version, but use whatever mix you like. We think it makes the perfect winter one-pot meal.
Cooking a whole fish looks hard. It’s not. The key is preheating the sheet pan and roasting it fast and hot.
HORS D’OEUVRES ONLY
If you’re sad to be missing the holiday party circuit—and all the dips, charcuterie, and canapés it promises—know that you’re not alone. In the meantime, might we suggest serving only appetizers? This micro-party menu is super fun, can be largely made ahead, and feels festive.
ALL THINGS À LA CART
Here’s a big tradition you might enjoy breaking: main dishes. Why fuss over a big roast when everyone loves the sides? Our favorites hold their own without a typical protein at the center of your table.
Rich and nutty from brown butter and toasted hazelnuts yet bright with sherry and sherry vinegar, this is a very welcome dish at any feast.
The combination of sweet, sticky honey and toasted walnuts conjures up memories of the takeout classic honey-walnut shrimp. But this carrot-inspired rendition is a lot less treacly and a lot more umami-packed, thanks to the miso. The fresh garlic and scallions add a pungent bite, which keeps this whole situation balanced.
Our new preferred way to serve a classic holiday vegetable: this simple shaved Brussels sprout salad, which is full of flavor. Prep all the elements in advance so that all you have to do is toss and season before serving.
Bright citrus, tangy yogurt, and sweet, earthy beets make a light yet complex side that complements many different menus.
This recipe is a great compromise for salad lovers and haters alike. It has a piquant sherry-mustard dressing and bitter frisée, but it’s balanced by rich roasted squash, sweet chewy dates, and nutty pepitas.