OK: deep breath. It’s December of 2020. The end of this wild, difficult year is nigh at last. Whether that means, for you, “Silent Night” on repeat, stringing together lacy garlands of popcorn and pomegranate seeds as a meditation, or lots of yoga, it’s good to bring this year to a close.
May we suggest one more thing, though? A comforting meal on Christmas, for those who celebrate it. There’s no need to make yourself nuts in the concocting of a high-stress meal; you can pick and choose among some of our favorite recipes (which are below) to suit yourself. There are plenty of vegetables in there (you’re welcome), mashed potatoes (of course), a prime rib that will make folks think you worked like mad on it (you didn’t), bonus starch (because it’s 2020), and dessert that’s a snap. Let’s go. Peace out, 2020.
If you haven’t yet met the glorious combo that is pears and blue cheese, let Spinach, Pear and Pomegranate Salad be your overdue introduction. You have our permission to just buy a packet of pomegranate seeds if you’re not feelin’ the work of cracking the whole fruit open. (But do consider how strangely joyful it can be to do so, especially if you have kids.) A flourish of walnuts adds the decadent note you deserve this year.
They’re even in the Christmas colors! Green Bean Bundles come together with such ease and grace you won’t believe it. If you have suspicious children on hand, despising the look of something green on the table, know that there’s both brown sugar and butter shellacking the bacon. Call them “bacon bundles” and watch the tots come running.
Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower With Fried Tarragon: Sound fussy? It’s so not. Potatoes and cauliflower bathe in the same pot of bubbling water. (The latter lends creaminess and moisture to the potatoes, so you can actually cut down on butter and cream… if you like.) The garnishes are out of this world; fried tarragon sprigs are something you didn’t know you needed in this life, and roasted cauliflower is sweet and lovely. But you could skip them if you’re short on time; no judgment.
The culinary equivalent of Grandpa clearing his throat at the head of the table, here comes Prime Rib With Whipped Herb Butter. Pomp and circumstance aside, it’s just a truly excellent recipe. The hands-on time is a mere half an hour. Make extra of the thyme-rosemary-sage herb butter, wrap it tightly in a log and seal it well against the elements. Then freeze it. You’ll be so happy the next time you make biscuits, rolls, or heck, toast!
We promised more starch. There’s not a better side dish than a popover, people, so break out your special pan for Parmesan and Pepper Popovers. They’re outrageously simple to concoct. They puff up beautifully. Children and adults love them. And you’ll feel like you’re at a New York steakhouse without the $400 bill.
Got almond paste but don’t know what to do with it? Sicilian Almond Tart is raising its hand in the classroom. Italy and Sicily in particular are known for nutty baked desserts. Almonds are a regional specialty, and almond paste highlights that bouquet of almonds you know and love. (It’s produced during the grinding process.) Look for almond paste in the grocery store and throw this delightful number together using just seven other ingredients, all of which are likely in your pantry.
Ahh. See ya, 2020.