8 Easy, Festive Side Dishes for the Whole Family to Enjoy

What’s in the name we call side dishes? Are side dishes by default vegetables or carbs? Let’s wonder no longer and set our own rules. I am not much one to follow trends, I rather set hem ( haha, bit full of myself here), anyhow. It seems that food sharing and sort of help-yourself-platters are passed around the dinner table more so these days. It looks like lovely presented individual plates have left our home parties and hello side dishes. This Holiday Season I am joining in and serving multiple dishes all at once, bang in the middle of the table and help your self boys and girls. There is enough for everyone and there is plenty for the vegetarians and flexitarians to accompany your lovely roast or meat-lover-dishes for those carnivores (like me).

The trick is to have plenty of side dishes prepared in advance as not to overwhelm you when guests are in da house.

GET STARTED – when choosing side dishes, first question is “what is in season now”. It should actually always be your first question when cooking or planning a menu. Second question is “who eats what” or better yet “who does not eat what”. Today between the vegetarian, flexitarians, gluten and lactose free diets one may despair when pulling of a home cooked dinner party. Fear not, it is easier than it sounds to cater to all needs. You take your “what’s is seasons list” and you mark down next to each ingredient how many guests will eat this. My rule is if 40% of the guest will eat it, I cook and serve it. Now you have a list of ingredients to work with. Look up recipes: pull out the cook books and magazines, search the ingredient on foodblogs (like mine) or check out what chefs websites have for you.

PREP WORK – everything starts by reading the recipe first at least twice. Than I lay out all the ingredients needed on the kitchen counter and start preparing or weighing out each ingredient as described in the recipe. This means I wash, peel, cut, dice, chop, weigh, melt, and zest everything that is needed first. Than I cook. This way I make sure I don’t forget anything, I can clean up while cooking and if the recipe requires to cook something “a la minute” when the guests are at the table, it will go very fast due to all the prep.

SERVE – It is really up to you how you wish to serve your lovely food, anything goes: individual bowls per side, large platters combining dishes or just straight from the pan on the table. This means best to consider how you will decorate the table and how much space is there to put the serving bowls down. Nothing is soo awkward as when your guests don’t have space to put the bowls down.

FUN – I like a little show but mostly flavour, I find baking beetroot in salt the most effective way to keep flavour and get an even bake through out. This technique can be applied to fish and poultry as well. So have some fun and try some old fashioned techniques but bang on trend now.

Here my easy, festive 8 (side) dishes to inspire you:

Hassleback potatoes with rosemary and Parmesan  ( slice the peeled potato not quite all the way, melt butter (or use vegetable oil) and add potatoes and rosemary twigs, bake in oven till cooked thru while occasionally basting them w the butter, shave Parmesan over them before serving, season with pepper)

Parsnip creamy mash potatoes (use 1/3 parsnip and 2/3 potatoes, boil potatoes and parsnip till tender, add butter, cream season with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg and mash)

Sweet potato wedges with tahini (Cut peeled sweet potatoes in wedges, lay on oven tray, splash of olive oil and sprinkle of salt, bake till cooked, serve with tahini)

Portobello mushroom with fried leeks and roasted fennel (need 2 mushrooms per person bake 1 whole cleaned mushroom in the oven with butter (or use vegetable oil), basting it from time to time until cooked. Chop up 1 mushroom and cook in butter with sweated onion and fresh thyme. Braise the sliced fennel in the oven with butter till soft. Shallow fry the leeks in olive oil. To serve : stuff the mushroom with mushroom and onion mixture, add fennel and leeks.)

Freekeh with roasted onion and dried fruit (Bake sliced onion in oven till crisp, boil the freekeh as per packet instructions, drain and add diced dried fruit such as pear and apricot and onion and season with salt and pepper.) (Freekeh is an ancient grain with tons of fiber: young green wheat is toasted and cracked)

Braised chicons (endive) with grapefruit (braise the cleaned and cut chicons in oven with butter till soft, season with salt and pepper. Add cut the grapefruit.)

In salt crust baked beet root with Radicchio, tangerines, pomegranate and yogurt dressing (see recipe attached below)

Kale, pear and haloumi salad (flash fry in vegetable oil the cleaned and core removed kale, peel and dice the peer, dust the haloumi with flour and fry till golden. Toss it all together, season with salt and pepper and olive oil)


Salt Crust Baked Beet Root with radicchio, tangerines, pomegranate and yogurt dressing

Yield 6 portions


  • 3 medium size beetroots, peeled
  • 2 kg coarse salt
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 radicchio, leaves pulled and washed
  • 2 tangerines, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 pomegranate, seeds removed
  • 50 ml Kefir yogurt
  • 1 table spoon agave syrup
  • salt and pepper


  1. Mix in a bowl the salt and egg whites well. Line a baking tray or dish with aluminium foil. Spoon some of the mixture on the tray and flatten. Add the beetroots, with a 3 cm gap in between them. Spoon on the mixture and enclose each beetroot fully. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 C degrees for 40 minutes, until you start smelling the beetroot. Remove the salt crust and rinse the beetroots. Dice them.
  2. Make the dressing by adding the agave to the Kefir yogurt and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Toss the radicchio leaves, beetroot, tangerine slices and pomegranate seeds together with some olive oil and serve with yogurt dressing.


on www.LeeksandHighHeels.com by Sandra Slawinski

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