Inspiring Side Dishes To Try With Your Christmas Dinner

The Christmas season is here, and many of us will be enjoying a special festive lunch. If you are having a crowd, then you may also want to prepare a selection of side dishes and sauces to accompany the main meal. You may even be adopting the trend for having a festive brunch spread instead of a traditional Christmas dinner.

If you are in need of some inspiration for your side dishes, here are a few ideas to try.

Pan-fried sprouts with ibérico ham

Brussels sprouts are one of the most divisive of Christmas foods, lurching from being Britain’s favourite vegetable to its most hated. Whichever camp you fall into, the flavour and texture of the humble sprout can vary according to how it is cooked. A traditional way to prepare sprouts for Christmas lunch is to cook them bacon.

For a more delicious twist this year, try preparing pan fried sprouts with iberico ham. This is a superior quality of ham that is produced in Spain and Portugal, from free range pigs that graze in oak forests and feed off acorns. This gives the meat a distinctive sweet and nutty flavour, which is made more intense by the long curing process. 

To prepare, cook the ham for two or three minutes in boiling water until they are just tender; take care not to overdo it and make them soggy. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and add a sprig of rosemary, and then fry some slices of iberico ham until they start to go crispy. Add some roasted peeled chestnuts to warm, and then add the sprouts to the pan.

In a separate dish, combine some sherry vinegar with a tablespoon of honey and add salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Place the contents of the pan in a serving dish and pour the dressing over the top.

Curried roast parsnips with cashews

It’s always good to have a couple of vegetarian dishes on standby, especially if you are having a crowd over and someone has forgotten to mention their dietary preferences. This combination of sweep roast parsnips and Indian curry flavours is a great choice. 

First, heat the oven to 180c or gas mark 4, and roast 50g of raw cashew nuts on a tray with a tablespoon of coconut oil and a sprinkle of salt for up to 10 minutes or until golden. Sprinkle them with chilli powder and leave to one side.

Mix up a dressing of maps syrup, light soy sauce, wholegrain mustard, lemon juice and olive oil. 

Turn the oven up to 200c or gas mark 6, and toss about four peeled and quartered parsnips in the coconut oil and salt. Bake for up to 30 minutes or until golden brown. You may wish to add some curry leaves for the last five minutes. Toss them in the dressing and scatter on the cashew nuts. Serve on a platter for a flavoursome side dish or additional to a brunch spread.