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Bored of the usual Christmas veggies? Here’s some fresh ideas to try instead

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If the thought of overcooked Brussels sprouts leaves you cold, fear not we’ve got some tasty suggestions for festive vegetables with a difference.

No Christmas dinner is complete without all of the trimmings – and that also includes the array of amazing veggies.

But what if you’re getting bored of the same sides gracing your table year after year?

With aisles at local supermarkets packed with vegetables and farm shops bringing out the very best produce from this year’s harvest, we’re here to tell you that there’s so much more to Christmas veg than carrots, parsnips and Brussels sprouts – although they are equally as delicious.

From al dente tenderstem broccoli to bring some vibrancy to your dinner plate, to swapping your roasties for the more upmarket dauphinoise potatoes, to substituting the traditional mashed tatties for a sweet potato version, there’s plenty of inspiration below to whet your festive appetite.


Tenderstem broccoli

If you’re looking to add some colour to your plate on Christmas Day, there’s no easier way to get a lively green colour on it than with tenderstem broccoli.

A hybrid of Chinese kale and broccoli, this fibrous addition is high in vitamin C and potassium, and is packed with antioxidants which help fix cell damage caused by free radicals that are linked to ageing and disease.

So all in all, it won’t just taste and look good, it is also a pretty healthy addition to the day’s offering.

Pan-fried tenderstem broccoli with almonds.

Hassleback roasted root veg instead of honeyed

If you’ve sickened yourself with sweets earlier in the day, why not swap honeyed vegetables like carrots and parsnips for a hassleback version?

Easy to make, all you have to do is carefully slice two thirds of the way into the veg, leaving a few centimetres between each mark as you work your way down it. Once all the veg is sliced, drizzle it with olive oil in a baking dish, making sure you get the oil into all of the cuts. Place the dish in the oven for around an hour at 180°C and serve.

If you want to make the veg slightly crispy, around 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, sprinkle some apple cider vinegar on it and leave the oven to do the rest.

You could also add turnip, beetroot or sweet potato if you like.


Cauliflower cheese

It might not be the first thing you think of – adding more cheese, milk and butter into the mix – but if it’s good enough for your Sunday roast, it’s good enough for Christmas Day.

Easy to whip up, all you need is one large cauliflower broken up into pieces, around 500mls of milk, a few tablespoons of flour, 40-50g of butter, 100-150g of cheddar cheese (you can use a strong one for that extra flavour and add more if you like it extra thick), and salt and pepper to taste. You can also add in a spoonful of English mustard for a more piquant flavour.

All you’ll have to do is boil the cauliflower, drain it, whack it in a ovenproof dish and then cook up the sauce in a saucepan, adding the cheese once everything else has been combined. Once cooked, mix in with the cauliflower in an ovenproof dish and put in the oven at 200°C for 20-25 minutes.

Classic cauliflower cheese.

Sweet potato mash instead of traditional mash

Why settle for bog standard mash when you can bring another root vegetable into the mix to be served alongside your roasties.

Or, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, swap potato altogether and make swede (neep) mash.

It tastes just as good and brings a lovely orange colour into the mix.


Dauphinoise potatoes over roast tatties

It is known as one of the more luxurious ways to enjoy potatoes and substituting dauphinoise for your roast potatoes may be one of the best things you do this Christmas, although there’s a place for both if you can’t give up your roasties.

While roast tatties are a staple part of the festive food offering, they are easy to overcook when crisping off in the oven, so why not swap the big chunky golden nuggets for the smooth and creamy dauphinoise instead.

If you’re adding cauliflower cheese to your festive offering it may be best to leave swapping out the roasties as both dishes are rich and full of dairy. However, dauphinoise would be a great accompaniment for those serving lamb or beef as their main showstopper.

Dauphinoise potatoes.

Kale with pancetta or bacon instead of Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts is the one vegetable which seems to divide households every year, with some either loving or hating them. So instead of causing a stir at the dinner table this year, why not swap them out for a different kind of green, like kale for example.

Cook the pancetta or the bacon first and add the kale nearer the end so you don’t overcook it. Add a little olive oil into the mix and a pinch or two of sea salt as well. You can also add in some onion when cooking up the bacon as another delicious addition.


Toasted walnuts instead of chestnuts

While Nat King Cole’s The Christmas Song may refer to chestnuts roasting on an open fire, some individuals would prefer them to stay there than make their way to the dinner table.

And while chestnuts are commonly associated with Christmas, there’s no reason that other nuts, like walnuts for example, can’t have a place, too.

To cook them up, add a few teaspoons of olive oil into a small pan and sautee them over a medium to high heat. When the oil is hot, add some rosemary sprigs to bring out the flavours of the herb and leave to sizzle for a few minutes. Remove the sprigs with a spoon and combine in a bowl.

Fried walnuts.

For more festive inspiration…

It’s the Christmas side dish that’s gone viral, so would you try deep fried Brussels sprout pakora?

From Tipsy Laird to cock-a-leekie, have yourself a very Scottish Christmas with these classic dishes

 

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