Roasted Fennel with Rosemary Breadcrumbs
Instead of roasted root vegetables or Brussels sprouts, try roasted fennel. Fennel has licorice notes that mellow in the oven, becoming slightly sweet. A splash of cider vinegar at the end brightens the dish.
Tricolored Beet Tart
Start your holiday meal with a simple yet gorgeous beet tart, topped off with tangy goat cheese, crunchy hazelnuts, and flaky sea salt. Par-bake the crust to get a lovely raised edge (what forms the shell of your tart) and ensure that the bottom will be cooked through. If you or your guests are not beet fans, substitute sweet potatoes: Wrap 4 (4-ounce) sweet potatoes in parchment paper, and microwave at HIGH 3 minutes. Then cool, peel, and slice. You can also sub feta for goat cheese and pecans or walnuts for hazelnuts.
Honey-Roasted Butternut Squash
This side is simple and fabulous. The cooking is mostly hands-off, and the prep is easy. Serve the tender butternut squash in large pieces to catch every last bit of the honey butter drizzle.
Grapefruit, Endive, and Arugula Salad
Tossing the endive leaves in the vinaigrette first softens their bitter edge. You could also sub thinly sliced fennel or chopped Romaine hearts.
Roasted Root Vegetables with Walnut Pesto
This dish takes advantage of all the great vegetables that are in season right now. Root veggies and Brussels sprouts all benefit immensely from a long roast, which makes them tender and brings out their natural sweetness. Walnuts replace pine nuts in the pesto that better suits these vegetables' earthy flavors. Serve as a side or pair with wild rice or pasta for a vegetarian main course.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Pomegranate and Pine Nuts
For a bit of showmanship, bring the whole cauliflower to the table, and then "carve" and dress with the vinaigrette, pomegranate arils, pine nuts, and parsley.
Pappardelle with Roasted Winter Squash, Arugula, and Pine Nuts
This fresh and easy dish packs in lots of seasonal flavors, and you can put everything together in the 25 minutes it takes for the squash to roast. The recipe makes six filling servings, so it's great for a family dinner or casual get-together, but you can always double or triple it to be the main course at any holiday party.
We use the tart-shell method from the master recipe for a fuss-free version of the classic Greek spinach-and-cheese-pastry. A little pimiento, brightened with vinegar, adds pop; you could also sub chopped olives. Make sure to drain the spinach mixture well; extra liquid could make the crust soggy. Let the spinach drain while the crust bakes. Build and finish baking the tart shortly before guests arrive.
Fontina and Mascarpone Baked Pasta
This is mac and cheese for adults. It's got all the creamy comfort of the original, with the sophisticated flavors of Italian cheeses standing in for the traditional cheddar. The garlicky breadcrumb topping adds crunch and visual interest. If you want an even more elegant presentation, bake individual servings in ramekins or gratin dishes for each guest.
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
Chef Jonathan Waxman taught Cooking Light Editor Hunter Lewis how to make this fall salad many years ago. Riff with the ingredients to find the flavor balance you prefer. With a zing of fresh citrus to cut through the acidity, this crunchy winter salad is the perfect light addition to your holiday spread.
For a vegan version, omit the parmesan.
Caramelized Leek and Spinach Dip
Beautifully caramelized leeks and onions cannot be rushed; resist the urge to crank up the heat. Leeks become especially silky and sweet when left to cook awhile. If they start to stick to the bottom of the pan, add a tablespoon or two of water, and stir (the liquid will evaporate during cooking). Instead of bread or crackers, serve the dip with an array of vegetables, such as baby carrots, endive leaves, radishes, diagonally sliced cucumber, and mini sweet bell peppers for a bit of freshness, color, and crunch. You'll also save calories and room for the rest of the meal.
Mediterranean Spinach Strata
With savory vegetables, cheese, and bread baked into an eggy custard, this recipe is at home on the brunch, lunch, or dinner table. It's filling, but also healthful, providing lots of vitamins and minerals, protein, and, most importantly, flavor.
Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables
A mix of colorful root vegetables may be your star side. Peeled, prechopped butternut squash saves time, but pieces tend to be irregular and small—we prefer peeling and cubing it yourself.
Wild Mushroom Pastitsio
No Hanukkah celebration is complete without latkes. Go classic potato for the first night, and then try borscht-inspired beet, cheesy cauliflower and Gruyère, and earthy-sweet carrot and curry variations on the other nights. The trick to crispy cakes with less oil is to start with a very dry grated potato mixture: Drain well, and then squeeze in a clean kitchen towel. The frying oil may get too hot during successive batches; remove pan from heat for a minute or two, and lower the temperature as needed.
Spicy Moroccan Chickpeas
Put a global spin on your holiday meal with this flavorful dish. Serve as a vegetarian entrée or as a hearty side, but do serve it one way or the other!
Blood Orange and Radicchio Salad
This salad is a beautiful addition to any table spread with its vibrant orange and deep magenta hues. Hearty radicchio and fennel have real staying power—even after they've been tossed with dressing—which makes this ideal for times when you need a make-ahead salad for a buffet or to take to a potluck. We love the color of blood oranges, but you can use all naval or Cara Cara oranges.
Roasted Garlic, Sun-Dried Tomato, and White Bean Dip
Roasting performs a magical transformation on garlic, turning the pungent raw cloves into a sweet, mild paste that adds loads of flavor in any recipe. This impressive appetizer takes great advantage of roasted garlic, combining it with sun-dried tomatoes for color and white beans for body and texture.
Creamed Winter Greens
Two beloved dark leafy greens, spinach and lacinato kale, combine to bring deep, earthy flavor to this updated take on classic creamed spinach.
Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tamales with Tomatillo Sauce
Mashed Potato Gratin
Yukon Gold potatoes are naturally buttery and creamy, and this recipe adds cheesy to the mix. A baked, bubbly, and browned topping is what really sets this dish apart, though. Each recipe makes 14 servings, but don't worry about leftovers―if your guests don't eat it all, you will the next day.
Roasted Cauliflower with Fresh Herbs and Parmesan
Cauliflower is a versatile yet often overlooked vegetable. Roasted here until just tender and browned, and flavored with Italian herbs, garlic, Parmesan, and lemon juice, it's the highlight of any meal. It's heavy on flavor but light on calories, with only 89 per serving.
Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion, and Spinach Lasagna
Serve with a fresh salad of grapefruit and fennel, and sip our Pomegranate Fizz.
Spinach Pie with Goat Cheese, Raisins, and Pine Nuts
This savory pie is full of flavor. Make it as a filling vegetarian option to serve with your holiday meal or let it stand alone as the main star on your dining room table.
Parmesan and Root Vegetable Lasagna
Just a tip: Wash the pan well before using it again to cook the strained milk mixture--that will ensure a silken sauce.
Soft Polenta with Wild Mushroom Sauté
This is an easy and versatile side dish. The polenta is topped with a quick sauté of wild mushrooms (or use exotics, like shiitake and oyster, if wild are not available). If you replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth, this side dish can serve four as a vegetarian entrée. Garnish with sage sprigs.
Pumpkin Ravioli with Gorgonzola Sauce
Winter squashes like pumpkin have a deep flavor and hearty texture that makes them an excellent centerpiece of a vegetarian entrée. Here, pumpkin fills an easy-to-assemble ravioli and is topped with earthy hazelnuts and a thick cheese sauce for maximum winter warmth and comfort.
Golden Beet, Greens, and Potato Torta
Sophisticated and delicious—make this tall, flaky pie the centerpiece of the holiday table.
Quinoa Salad with Pistachios and Currants
Grains, nuts, and dried fruit are typical in the Sephardic community—Jews who immigrated from Spain, Yemen, and the Mediterranean. (Ashkenazic Jews brought bread and potatoes from Eastern Europe.) Quinoa is a modern twist. Dried currants are smaller and less sweet than raisins, but either will work in this dish.