Killer Christmas Sides

My Christmas has celebratory, joyful food at it’s heart, and these cheerful sides will lift any main dish to another level, without making you groaningly full.

Winter chopped salad with candied seeds

I use a variety of different-coloured carrots and beetroots here to keep things interesting. Search them out if you can – they make this salad incredibly beautiful.


3 carrots
3 beetroots
1 romaine lettuce or a head of winter greens
1 pear
a handful of pecans
a handful of pumpkin seeds
a splash of maple syrup
50g pecorino cheese (optional)

3 tablespoons olive oil
the zest and juice
of 1 unwaxed lemon
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Get all your ingredients together. Peel, chop and shred all the vegetables and the pear as thinly as you can, making sure to shred the greens or lettuce especially thinly; a mandolin may be useful here, but a sharp knife will do just as well.

Put a sheet of greaseproof paper on a small tray or a plate, then put the nuts into a frying pan. Toast briefly, then add the seeds and toast until they smell toasted and are starting to brown. Add the maple syrup and a pinch of salt and stir, then take off the heat, tip on to the greaseproof and leave to cool.

Mix all the dressing ingredients in a little jug.

Put all the shredded veg into a bowl, season with salt and pepper, pour over the dressing and mix well. Shave over the pecorino, if using, and scatter over the nuts and seeds.

Roasted golden brussels with sticky dates and sherry vinegar

A recipe to convert the most hardline brussel hater.


500g brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a small handful of pitted medjool dates, chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

Wash the brussels sprouts well. Trim the stem ends and remove any outer leaves. Cut in half from stem to top.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy frying pan over medium heat. Don’t overheat the pan, or the outsides of the brussels sprouts will cook too quickly. Place the brussels sprouts in the pan flat side down in a single layer, sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt, cover, and cook for roughly 5 minutes; the bottoms of the sprouts should only show a hint of browning. Cut into or taste one of the sprouts to gauge whether they’re tender throughout. If not, cover and cook for a few more minutes. You may need to do this in a couple of batches or have 2 pans on the go at once.

In a small saucepan heat dates, vinegar and a drizzle of good oil. Heat over medium pour over the charred dates and bring to the table in a bowl for everyone to eat like candy.

Warm red cabbage with golden raisins and candied pumpkin seeds 

Somewhere between a warm salad and the sticky balsamic drenched red cabbage that tends to show up at this time of year, this is always on my Christmas table to add crunch, freshness and colour. Having spent my childhood in California, Christmas gives cinnamon a free pass into almost every dish on the menu so I sometimes like to add a cinnamon stick to the cabbage while it’s cooking for an extra festive kick.


100g of pumpkin seeds
4 tablespoons of honey
sea salt
2 tablespoons or rapeseed or olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 large red cabbage, halved and cut into thin ribbons
a few sprigs of thyme, finely chopped
150g golden raisins or dried cranberries
8 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan medium heat until popping and golden brown, while they are still hot drizzle over 2 tablespoons of the honey and add a pinch of salt and transfer to a plate to cool.

In a large heavy bottomed pan with a lid heat the olive oil and cook the onion for 10 minutes until soft and sweet, stir in the garlic, and the shredded cabbage, and a good pinch of salt. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes until the cabbage begins to soften then add the thyme and most of the raisins the vinegar and the remaning honey and out the lid on and cook for a further 20 minutes until the cabbage is a deep dark purple and the vinegar has thickened an sweetened a little.

Serve with the remaining raisins and the candied pumpkin seeds sprinkled over.

Winter chopped salad taken from A Modern Way to Cook. Image: Matt Russell.
Brussels and cabbage recipes both originally published in Jamie Mag.

Posted: 22.10.15 5 Comments


Posted by Marianne at 4:39 on the 27.11.16

This salad looks fantastic. When you say “as thinly as you can”, can you give a more precise idea of width slice? My food processor will slice at 1mm thick, but do you mean thinner than that? Would be really helpful to know! Many thanks,

Posted by Anna at 1:06 on the 29.11.16

Hello Marianne, 1mm would be great in a food processor. If anyone is doing it by hand though, a bit thicker won’t be a problem. Hope you enjoy it. AJ x

Posted by Hilary at 8:00 on the 05.01.17

Made this on Boxing Day. It was so fresh and delicious and everyone loved it. Thank you

Posted by Anna at 11:14 on the 09.01.17

ah so pleased you enjoyed it, thank you x

Posted by Julia at 9:11 on the 14.12.21

The cabbage salad sounds fantastic. Just wondering if it could be cooked in advance and reheated to serve? Thanks so much!

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