An unconventional holiday menu for an unconventional year
Courtesy of BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com
After a year of twists and turns, why not turn your holiday meal on its head, too?
Whether you’re able to be with your family or are serving a smaller group than normal, your holiday spread can still shine.
These unconventional recipes from food blogger Whitney Bond will make you think of typical holiday ingredients in an unplanned way….and just might create brand new holiday traditions for your family. From starters to a decadent dessert (spoiler alert), each dish provides an unexpected twist that’s totally delicious.
Think of this pumpkin toast as a “pre-dinner pumpkin pie.” Sneaky, right? Pumpkin spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg is a burst of holiday flavor and a great way to kick off a spirited evening. The sweet-spiced spread over crusty bread is not only delicious but packed with vitamins and fiber. The best part of this recipe? It’s versatile and allows guests to get creative! You can pre-make the toast with your own toppings or set up a fun toppings bar with savory options like ricotta and sage. Or take a sweeter route with pears, honey, or candied pecans. This recipe can be as dressed up or dressed down as you make it.
Pro tip: This also makes for a filling breakfast all holiday season long!
Steak Crostini (Sous Vide)
Steak crostini are a classic holiday party appetizer; they are the perfect combination of savory, spicy, and tangy. But you can kick the flavor up a notch by cooking beef to perfection in a sous vide cooker. If you’re not familiar, sous vide uses a method of sealing meat in a plastic bag, then placing it in a temperature-controlled water bath. It’s a great method for first-time hosts because it’s difficult to mess up! This recipe uses top sirloin, though skirt steak or ribeye are also great choices. After the steak has finished cooking, assemble sourdough bread with horseradish cream, goat cheese, steak, and a little drizzle of balsamic. To make it even more flavorful, add an eye-catching pop of green, top crostini with fresh basil, and you’re all set!
Chai-Spiced Butternut Squash Soup
Tea time? It’s in this spicy savory soup. Combining roasted butternut squash with brewed chai tea is a match made in heaven. Packed full of vitamins, this creamy soup is sure to satisfy! Truthfully, we’d make this any time in the fall or winter. It’s maximum #cozyvibes.
Smoked Rib Roast with Harissa Rub
This is such a showstopper dish, your guests might think you had professional help. Not your typical turkey or prime rib, this recipe uses harissa for seriously amped-up flavor. So, what is harissa? Hailing from North Africa, harissa is a chili paste mix that is rising in popularity through the United States, though guests likely won’t expect it on a holiday table. Often made with a mix of dried chilis, tomato, cumin, and garlic, harissa can be used any place you’d typically use hot sauce. Slather this mix on your smoky rib roast for a flavor combination of savory, spicy, and a little bit of umami...guests won’t know what hit them, but they’ll certainly be asking for seconds (and your recipe!) For a how-to on this dish, check out the step-by-step video from Whitney Bond to the right.
Sweet Potato Skins with Sage Pesto and Bacon
We can NOT have the holidays without a sweet potato dish, but go ahead and put the marshmallows back in your pantry — we don’t need ‘em! This year, we’re giving sweet potatoes a new identity by going savory. This healthier version of potato skins uses a decadent combination of sage, pesto, and crispy bacon to make all your guests (and you) wonder, “How have I not thought of this before?”
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Tweaking a mac and cheese recipe can be nearly blasphemous for some families. But hear us out: What if a new ingredient could make the dish creamier and healthier? Enter stage right: butternut squash.
While we don’t understand all the magical powers of this winter staple vegetable, we can confirm that adding its puree to your macaroni dish will provide a velvety pasta with beautiful color, all while packing a punch of vitamin A.
Pro tip: Try customizing this dish by adding lobster chunks.
If breakfast and Thanksgiving had a baby, it would be these biscuits. This easy-to-prep recipe puts all the savory veggie flavors of stuffing into a buttery, flaky biscuit — no fork required. These are delicious on their own or dipped into butter, gravy, or cranberry sauce. For extra credit, save a few to cut in half for leftover holiday sandwich nirvana.
Chili Roasted Sweet Potato and Cranberry Salad
What it’s NOT: potato salad.
What it IS: A salad that combines all the holiday flavors!
We almost feel bad calling this a “side” because it could be the whole meal. With chili-roasted sweet potato, creamy goat cheese, dried cranberries, candied pecans, and just a bit of red onion, the flavors and colors of this dish make it extra festive for your holiday table. (Though we’d eat this year-round!)
Sweet Potato Brownies
You read that correctly! Combining the classic holiday flavors of sweet potato, cinnamon, and vanilla into a decadent chocolate brownie is the cherry on top of an incredible, unexpected holiday meal. We recommend pairing the brownie with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel. If you want to get extra fancy, toss on some leftover candied pecans.
Whether you’re seeing all your friends and family this holiday season or just a few, these recipes will help to create a memorable meal...and even begin some new traditions! Happy holiday prepping!
Images and recipes in the story courtesy of Whitney Bond