A part of what makes the holidays special is honoring traditions and cultural, religious, and family practices, especially in the form of food. Ignite the magic nostalgia that keeps people warm and fuzzy this time of year. While old family recipes play an important role during the holidays, adding a few new ones to the list can make the spread whimsical and unique. Here are some non-traditional holiday dishes you can try this year to help mix things up.
Give green beans and potatoes some competition with a delicious pasta dish. Whether you prefer a tomato or cream base, tortellini or fettuccini, everyone will love this Italian favorite. To really step it up and impress your guests, try a nuanced lasagna with butternut squash or baby portabellas. Make it an entrée by adding ground sausage or keep it healthy with a vegetarian option. You’re limited only by your imagination.
Although lobster and salmon might seem commonplace in coastal regions during the holidays, most people in the south and Midwest stick to turkey, ham, and roast beef. For an occasion the whole family will remember, lighten things up with a nice seafood dish this time around. If you want a challenge, you can opt for paella or cioppino, as they both use a variety of shrimp, mussels, fish, and scallops. To try something different without providing a main entrée, consider adding lobster to an old favorite, like macaroni and cheese or broccoli rice casserole.
It’s not unusual to see glazed carrots, roasted root vegetables, or other winter favorites grace American tables this season, but don’t forget to include some other popular varieties as well. For a vegetable entrée, create a delectable pot pie or lentil stew, and remember that a buttery side of mushrooms has a place in every great meal. For an impressive starter, nothing beats a creamy butternut squash and roasted red pepper soup. To infuse protein into your veggies, create a southwest quinoa salad.
Every epic holiday dinner boasts an array of decadent desserts. Of course, everyone loves pecan pie or bread pudding, but why not finish the meal with a chocolate lava cake or baklava? To take a hint from our English cousins, try your hand at figgy pudding or blackberry trifle. For easy, hand-held treats, you could whip up a batch of carrot cake whoopie pies or crisp shortbread cookies.
Don’t get caught in the trap of relying on old recipes each year. Go a little wild and surprise your guests with some of these non-traditional holiday dishes. For the very brave, consider using a theme to help people get on board with a different menu. Have a spicy Mexican meal or big Mediterranean spread. If that seems too much for you, try a new twist on an old favorite. Add pineapple to your apple pie or bacon to the deviled eggs. You’ll be glad you did.