Splash your Christmas table with Colourful Sides, Salads and Snacks.

You go for your first art lesson. The teacher says you must hero something big and bold, make it stand out. It must look important. After five minutes of looking blankly at the board, you slowly lift your hand. Luckily the instructor sees you immediately and comes over, saving you the embarrassment of funny looks from the rest of the class. Nearly in a whisper you say, “Like what?”  The instructor takes pity on you and asks “What do you see every day that’s big and bold and that you know pretty well.” Blankly you look up at her and shrug your shoulders. A slight look of exasperation clouds her face, as she slowly starts to walk away, she turns and says “What do you live in!”

The penny drops. You grab your brushes and even though you make the rookie mistake of plonking the painting of your house bang in the middle of your canvas, at least you’re painting something. The instructor notices your industriousness and saunters over. She looks genuinely pleased. However she adds, “Do you really live in a desert? Time is nearly up, when you’re finished, I don’t want to see one spot of white anywhere.”

You catch her drift quickly now. The space above the house you cover in bright blue. The artist in you kicks in. Are skies really this blue… rarely! So you paint in big blotches of white. Are clouds really so white, not in your neck of the woods. You decide to make them into Cumulus – Nimbus jobs and paint in streaks of grey. You’re styling now and with a few more strokes, you have a flower garden come to life. You smile to yourself as your paintbrush flies across the canvas covering the remaining white with grass, trees, walkways and even bicycles left in the garden by the kids.

Quickly you sign your name at the bottom of the canvas, grab your coat and bag and waltz out the studio in a manner that makes the instructor raise her eyebrow in a ‘What now?’ expression.

It’s Christmas day. You look at the empty table with only the roast stuck in the middle. You have a light-bulb moment. Thinking back to the art class, you dash around between kitchen and dining room for the next hour or so. Finally, you take a breather. Standing back you look at the splendid table before you. Colourful salads, interesting side dishes and even homemade bread. The table looks like a work of art! You smile to yourself, perhaps the money for the art lesson wasn’t wasted after all.

Oh oh! There’s the doorbell. The family have arrived. Gotta run.

Tomato salad with olive pesto

Brighten up your Festive table.


  • 400 g large firm ripe Roma tomatoes
  • 2 large sweet red peppers, seeded
  • 400 g whole cherry tomatoes
  • 240 g sundried tomato quarters
  • 150 g  bocconcini mozzarella, strained and halved (optional)
  • basil, for sprinkling
  • Italian parsley, for sprinkling
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • For the green olive pesto:
  • 30 g walnuts
  • 230 g whole Nocellara di Castelvetrano olives in brine
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 25 g basil, rinsed and well-dried
  • 25 g talian parsley, rinsed and well-dried
  • 1⁄3 – ¾ cup olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Halve the Roma tomatoes lengthways. Thickly slice the peppers. Turn the fresh tomatoes and peppers onto a platter. Spoon over the sundried tomatoes with their vinaigrette. Add the cheese if using. Sprinkle with herbs, drizzle with olive oil and serve with the pesto.

2. To make the pesto, roast the walnuts at 160°C for about 10 minutes. Drain the olives, leaving 120 g. Pat dry, smash and remove the stones. Place in a food processor with the garlic, herbs and walnuts. Process together. Gradually add the olive oil. If it seems too thick, add more olive oil. Season to taste.

Chicken salad with coriander sauce

The chicken and brinjal are good together with the fresh topping and coriander sauce.


  • 900 g–1 kg free-range skinless chicken thigh fillets
  • 800 g–1 kg medium-sized brinjals
  • 80 g fresh sugar snap peas, for serving
  • 60–80 g baby spinach leaves, for serving
  • 5 g fresh coriander
  • For the marinade, whisk:
  • 1 t mild curry powder
  • ½ t ground turmeric
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T fresh lime juice
  • 3 T sunflower oil
  • 1 t honey
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • sea salt, to tase
  • For the coriander sauce, mix:
  • 1 cup thick mayonnaise
  • 25 g fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 3 T strained baking liquid
  • sea salt, to taste


1. Place the chicken in a single layer on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Spoon over half the marinade and marinate while preheating the oven to 180°C.

2. Peel the brinjals, slice lengthways, then across into 4 or 5 pieces. Place on a separate baking tray lined with baking paper. Spoon over the remaining marinade and turn to coat evenly. Marinate while preheating the oven to 180°C. Once the oven is ready, place the chicken and brinjals in the oven.

3. Bake the brinjal for 20 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside. Turn the chicken over in the marinade and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until just cooked and tender. Use a slotted spoon to lift the chicken onto a large platter. Add the brinjal.

4. Strain the baking liquid, reserving a few spoonfuls for the sauce. Spoon the remainder over the platter. Season with salt if necessary. Serve at room temperature topped with the peas, spinach and coriander, with the sauce on the side.

Smoked trout beetroot salad

This festive salad takes things to the next level. Made with smoked trout, roast beetroot, red onions, radishes and pomegrante, it’s sure to impress on any table it’s on.


  • 2 bunches baby beetroot
  • 1–2 small red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 40 g rocket
  • 40 g wild rocket
  • 150 g radishes (left whole if small, otherwise thinly sliced)
  • 200 g oak-smoked trout ribbons (or feta if you prefer)
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • pomegranate rubies, for sprinkling
  • For the pomegranate dressing:
  • ½ cup cold-pressed pomegranate juice
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 t Dijon mustard
  • 1 t honey
  • salt a pinch
  • 1⁄3 cup olive oil


1.  Preheat the oven to 190°C. Scrub the beetroot. Don’t peel, but trim the tops, leaving about 2.5 cm of the stem. Line a baking tray with a large sheet of baking paper. Add the beetroot and wrap up in the paper. Bake for 1 hour, or until tender. Peel when cool enough to handle – it’s best to use gloves.

2. Halve the beetroot and mix with the dressing. Add the onions and allow to stand for 10–15 minutes. Spread the rocket onto a platter. Using a slotted spoon, spoon over the beetroot and onion. Set side any remaining dressing. Add the trout or crumbled feta and season with pepper. Add the radishes and pomegranate rubies. Spoon the reserved dressing over the salad at the table, giving it a good whisk first.

3. To make the dressing, whisk the juice, vinegar, mustard, honey and salt together. Gradually whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Add the pepper and check the seasoning.

Note: This is also good with shaved watermelon instead of beetroot, and feta can be used instead of trout if you prefer.

Dairy-free cheese platter

Here’s how to put together the perfect dairy-free cheese platter. Vegan cheeses are versatile and delicious.


  • 260 g Dairy-free white salad cheese
  • 130 g Plant-powered dairy-free hard cheese
  • 80 g dairy-free Cheddar cheese
  • 4 oranges, peeled and sliced
  • 180 g radishes, washed
  • 4 nectarines, sliced
  • 200 g exotic Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 360 g savoury selection crackers
  • 200 g pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1 x 100 ml jar Olive stir-through pasta sauce
  • 35 g Nut and seed sprinkle


Slice the cheese into desired shapes and arrange on a board or platter in a ring shape. Add the remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.

Panettone-style Christmas bread


  • 2½ t instant yeast
  • ⅓ cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 t lemon juice
  • 330 g flour
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 2 t vanilla paste
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 t salt
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 1 T orange zest
  • 1 T lemon zest
  • 250 g butter, chopped
  • 1 free-range egg yolk
  • 50 g flaked almonds


1. Combine the yeast, milk and lemon juice, then allow to stand for 5 minutes until foamy. Add 70 g flour and 1 T caster sugar and mix well. Cover with a damp cloth and rest for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.

2. Place the mixture into an electric mixer and add the remaining ingredients, except the citrus zest, butter, egg yolk and flaked almonds. Knead until smooth.

3. Add the citrus zest and butter and mix until incorporated. Cover with a cloth and allow to rise for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

4. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Grease and line 2 x 16 cm tins (we used an empty tomato can) with baking paper. Knead the panettone until smooth, then shape into 2 balls. Place into the tins and cover for 30 minutes.

5. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven’s temperature to 200°C and bake for a further 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 170°C and brush the panettones with the egg yolk and sprinkle with the almonds. Bake for 40 minutes until completely cooked through. If they get too brown, cover the tops with tin foil.

Duck sausage rolls

These easy duck sausage Wellington rolls with apricot blatjang are the perfect way to start your festive feast.


  • 400 g Free-range duck sausages
  • For the cream-cheese pastry:
  • 240 g flour
  • 1/2t salt
  • 250 g cold butter
  • 250 g grated cream cheese
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten
  • 1 T water
  • For the apricot blatjang:
  • 250 g dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 100 g sultanas
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup malt or sherry vinegar
  • 1 cup vino cotto
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 1 t mustard seeds
  • 5 T Muscovado sugar


1. Remove the sausage meat from the casings. To make the pastry, place the flour and salt in a large bowl. Rub in the butter using your fingertips or use a food processor until it’s the consistency of breadcrumbs. Mix in the cream cheese. Bring together to form a ball, wrap in clingwrap and chill for an hour or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 200°C. Beat the egg and water together. Unwrap the pastry and roll out on a floured surface to a thickness of about 3 mm. Cut in half horizontally.

3. Spoon half the sausage meat down the middle of each piece, shaping it neatly into a long sausage. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg, then bring it over the sausage meat and seal using a fork. Cut into pieces about 8 cm long. Cut out stars from the pastry scraps.

4. Brush the top with egg, top with the star cut-outs and brush with egg again. Place on a greased baking tray and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Serve with the blatjang.

5. To make the blatjang, place all the ingredients except the sugar into a pan and gently simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sugar and simmer until thick. Cool and spoon into a jar. Cover and chill.

Tip: Use pork, chicken or lamb sausages if you prefer. The blatjang makes a great gift, so triple the batch.

Brûléed butternut

If you think preparing butternut is a chore, this recipe is perfect for you – the only laborious cutting involved is when you halve them. Rich, malty balsamic vinegar and brown sugar is one of the oldest and boldest ways to enjoy this versatile veg.


  • 2 medium butternuts, halved, seeded and scored
  • 1⁄2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 100 g brown sugar
  • salt, to taste
  • 4 T canola oil


1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Rub the butternut with half the balsamic vinegar, half the sugar and the salt. Place on a baking tray, skin-side down, and roast for 35–40 minutes, or until cooked through.

2. Sprinkle the remaining sugar on the surface of the butternut and, using a blowtorch, caramelise the sugar until completely melted. Once the sugar cools slightly it will form a crunchy layer.

Note: If you don’t have a blowtorch, place the butternut under your oven’s grill. Keep an eye on it so that the sugar doesn’t burn. Drench with the remaining balsamic vinegar and serve immediately.

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