Quick Salads

Quick Christmas side dishes


The Season of Light is a time for gathering together with loved ones and friends. Dinner or luncheon parties, outdoors adventures, and cocktail affairs all jockey for position on your social calendar. But even in the social whirl, everyday life goes on—work, school, early meetings, and late rehearsals. That means time is always at a premium. However, here are a few wonderful side dishes that will always keep you in the good graces of your hosts or help to fill out the table in the event of an unexpected guest or four at your own holiday dinner party. The best thing about them is that they can be prepared in a trice, but look and taste like a great deal of thought went into their making.

Ten-Minute Table Savers

Crisp Salad

Last minute invitations or drop-in guests for dinner? Never fear, a green salad is a quick and simple crowd pleaser. Try combining the crisp crunch of cos with fresh dill, topped with thin rings of fresh Spanish onion. Add a bit of colour to the mix with a few cherry tomatoes cut in half, if red-and-green is the theme. A super-fast dressing of olive oil and lemon juice with a pinch of slat and freshly cracked black pepper corns will make you the star of the event.

Sautéed Spears

Another quick fix is a crowd pleaser when hot dishes are called for. Just follow these super-simple steps for success. The richness of garlic butter perfectly compliments the freshness of hot, bright green vegetables, and the almonds give it just the right mellow finish.

You’ll need:

  • 300g fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 3 bunches of asparagus, trimmed
  • 300g sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • ¼ stick of butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • Slivered almonds for garnish

First, bring a saucepan full of water to a boil. Cook the green beans and asparagus for three minutes, adding the snap peas for the last minute. Drain and refresh with cold water, draining again thoroughly.

Then, melt your butter and add the garlic, cooking for 30 seconds or so. Toss in the beans, asparagus, and peas. Coat thoroughly and season with cracked black pepper and slat to taste. Once you’ve dished them up, sprinkle slivered almonds over the top for the finishing touch.

Fifteen-Minute Favourites

Avocados and prawns make a delicious addition to any table in this tasty, but effortless salad. Take festive colour to the next level with this simple, elegant crowd-pleaser. The balance of garlic mayonnaise with crisp asparagus, zesty fennel and radishes is a perfect compliment for this summer salad.

You’ll Need:

  • 36 cooked prawns, prepped with tails intact
  • 18 asparagus spears, halved, blanched, and doused with chilled water
  • 5 radishes thinly sliced
  • 3 avocados, chopped
  • 3 cups packed watercress leaves
  • 2 baby fennels, sliced thinly (hint: use a mandolin for this one)
  • 150ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 300g prepared garlic mayonnaise (aioli)

Place first six ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil, seasoning with coarse sea salt and fresh black pepper. Spread 1 tbsp of the aioli on each plate, top with salad, and drizzle with dressing to serve.

Salad with Sweetness and Depth

For a fresh, light side dish, with unexpected sweetness and tang, this salad can’t be beat. Thin segments of ripe, red apple add a light note that you can further by incorporating a handful of edible blossoms, such as nasturtiums, rose petals, or borage. Heartsease, also known as violas or wild pansies, makes a lovely and pleasantly sweet addition.

You’ll Need:

  • 200g mixed lettuces
  • ½ c fresh parsley
  • ¼ c fresh dill
  • 1 red apple, cut into thin matchsticks
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Toss together the lettuce, herbs, and apples. In a jug, mix the olive oil and lemon juice, seasoning with salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, tossing it gently to coat it well. Garnish with edible flowers and serve.

Twenty-Minute Treats

Sweet Sesame Heirloom Carrots

For an impressive, but easy to prepare side that will be at home among the good silver and best china or on the outdoor dining table, these carrots compliment pork roasts or fowl of every variety. For contrast, you can mix heirloom or purple carrots with traditional baby carrots. You can busy the sesame seeds already toasted or toast them yourself over medium heat for three to four minutes. Even so, no side dish could be so simple yet impressive and delicious. Be ready to field requests for a repeat performance.

You’ll Need:

  • 4 bunches of baby carrots, peeled and trimmed
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 ½ tbsp honey

Cover carrots in cold water in a pot. Bring it to a boil and cook for five minutes. Drain and arrange on a serving platter. While they are cooking, toast your sesame seeds. If you’ve bought them toasted, go ahead and melt your honey and incorporate them. Drizzle the hot honey over the carrots and serve.

Party Salad

If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, this salad is still easily prepared in a few minutes. Full of flavour and flavanoids alike, it’s a summer crowd pleaser at any gathering. Combine the crisp crunchy satisfaction of shredded carrots and both red and green cabbage with the creamy delight of real mayonnaise and sour cream dressing for a tango on the tongue.

You’ll Need:

  • ½ a green cabbage, shredded
  • ½ a red cabbage shredded
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 small brown onion finely chopped
  • ¾ c mayonnaise of your choice
  • ½ c sour cream
  • 1 ½ tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp caster sugar

In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage and carrot. Separately, whisk together the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Incorporate the dressing and toss the cabbage together gently to coat it evenly.

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