So, we’re onto our seventh tip from –
12 Tips for a gorgeous, no fuss, foodie Christmas
Tip #1 was all about the cake.
Tip #2 was about making a few meals to stash in the freezer for over Christmas
Tip #3 was the joy of handmade food gifts
Tip #4 was the wonders of freezing uncooked mince pies so that they are ready at the drop of a hat
Tip #5 was a prepare-ahead alternative dessert if Christmas pudding just isn’t your thing
Tip #6 was flying the flag for freeze-ahead roast potatoes and now here’s the next one –
Tip #7 – Some vegetable side dishes are perfect to prepare ahead for a no fuss Christmas Day menu.
So, we’re well on the way to being super prepared for Christmas dinner …. We’ve talked turkey – maybe in a box(!) – and the wonder of freeze-ahead roast potatoes. But although we probably cook vegetable side dishes most days, they do seem to be much more hassle on Christmas day. I guess it’s because there’s so much other stuff going on and we do also seem compelled to do such an enormous selection. So, if we can choose a couple of dishes that lend themselves to being prepared ahead of time, that can only be a good thing.
An injection of colour on the Christmas dinner table is always a bonus too, so bring on Braised Red Cabbage with Apples – it’s a beauty to prepare in advance and with that striking purple colour it really is a double winner. And its slightly sweet and sour flavours, well they work like a dream at cutting through the richness of the rest of the meal. Sometimes I might make this a couple of days before Christmas and keep it in the fridge until the big day but I often freeze it too. It will reheat in the oven, covered, on a low heat, but as every corner of your oven is probably spoken for, the microwave alternative also gets a big thumbs up from me. Gently stir the cranberry sauce through the cabbage just before serving – it gives a beautiful sheen and a subtle sweet flavour. Adjust the quantity that you use to your taste – it’s personal.
This red cabbage is also a delicious side dish during the rest of the year – perhaps with sausages, a little fresh green broccoli and a crunchy jacket potato with a fluffy, buttery inner. Perfect.
And while we’re thinking about colourful prepare-ahead vegetable dishes, here’s another suggestion. Do you remember the Roasted Vegetable Lasagne that was the recipe from tip #2? Well, the roasted vegetables for the filling also make a fantastic side dish. One recipe – two dishes. I like that.
Tweak it a little to get the most from it –
- Only add the cherry tomatoes for the last 5 minutes so that they keep their shape.
- With or without the capers and olives is up to you. I’d say yes to both, but this is your side dish after all …
- Save the basil garnish until you are just about to serve.
This is a dish that I would freeze – after all, your fridge will most probably be under as much pressure as you. Gently warm the defrosted dish in the microwave. Perfect.
So that’s two vegetable side dishes that can be prepared ahead of time. Both gorgeous and no fuss. I think we’re in great shape …
- 1.4kg red cabbage
- 700g onions, chopped small
- 700g cooking apples (or Granny Smiths), peeled, cored and chopped small
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ½ nutmeg, freshly grated
- ½ level teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ level teaspoon ground cloves
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 4½ tablespoons wine vinegar
- 20g butter
- salt and pepper
- 3-4 tablespoons cranberry sauce (shop bought works best), or adjust the quantity to taste
- Preheat the oven to 150ºC, 300ºF (gas mark 2).
- Discard the tough outer layers of the cabbage, cut it into quarters and remove the hard stalk, then shred the cabbage finely.
- Mix the spices and sugar together in a small bowl.
- In a large casserole, arrange a layer of cabbage seasoned with salt and pepper, then a layer of chopped onions and apples, followed by a sprinkling of garlic and some of the spicy sugar mixture.
- Repeat until everything is in the casserole, finishing with a layer of cabbage.
- Dot the top of the cabbage with the butter and pour over the wine vinegar.
- Put a lid on the casserole and bake in the oven for 1½ to 2 hours, stirring everything around once or twice during cooking.
- When cold, the red cabbage can be chilled for 2 to 3 days or frozen for up to a month. Reheat gently and then stir through the cranberry sauce before serving.
- To serve immediately, stir the cranberry sauce through the hot red cabbage and serve.