Braise carrots with mulling spices like star anise or cinnamon.

Top tips for Christmas veg

How to make the perfect crispy parsnips, how to season carrots and why crossing your Brussels sprouts is a time-wasting myth – read our top tips for Christmas veg.

Whether you spend hours perusing the food pages for new ways to prep old favourites, or you prefer to stick to the classics, Christmas is undoubtedly a time to cherish your veg. Here are a few easy, stress-free and delicious tips for your festive sides.

Potatoes and herbs: A match made in Christmas heaven

After the sprouts and stuffing, Christmas dinner is all about the roast potatoes. Try roasting them with some robust winter herbs; they love thyme, rosemary, and sage.

Roast potatoes combine well with robust herbs.

If by any chance you have some leftover roasties, they can be put to good use in a thrifty kitchen. They can transform into a clumsy bubble and squeak with a few wilted greens; or, chopped and fried, they’ll form the backbone of a breakfast hash, alongside some onions, mushrooms, spinach, and a fried egg to finish.

Mulling it over with seasoned carrots

Carrots are a perfect partner to the most of the festive mulling spices. If roasting, braising, or boiling yours, then a shard of cinnamon, a star anise, and a clove or two wouldn’t go amiss – along with a bay leaf and a few slices of clementine for fragrance.

Any leftover carrots can be the backbone of a robust winter salad, with some peppery leaves and a good dressing – try pairing with some chickpeas, pine nuts, and feta. They can be whizzed up into a dip, too, to serve alongside other leftovers and cold cuts.

Use polenta and avoid soggy parsnips

Try roasting your parsnips with a pinch of two of cumin and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. If used cautiously, they’ll amplify the earthiness and the sweetness of the parsnips, without dominating the rest of the meal.

Impress with a new tip to give parsnips crunch.

Another tip is to roll parsnips in polenta before roasting to add texture and crunch. Your guests will be impressed! Click here for full recipe.

Don’t cross your sprouts

Slice sprouts in half or roast whole.

Brussels sprouts – the axis upon which the whole feast rotates. It’s best not to cut a little cross in the base; just keep the small ones whole and split the bigger ones in half. They don’t take long to cook; about 4 mins in boiling water, or 8-10 mins in a hot oven to roast them, should be all you need.

Leftovers can always find their way into a Boxing Day bubble and squeak, or be shredded into stir-fries or restorative bowls of broth.

From braised red cabbage to seasonal pickle

Red cabbage adds a flash of festive colour to the Christmas table. It’s classically slow cooked with plenty of wine, mulling spices, and dark, plummy fruits – but it can also be great raw, finely shredded into any salads or slaws that appear in the days around Christmas.

If you end up with leftover braised red cabbage, consider a second life as a cold condiment. The spicing has much in common with most chutneys. Try adding a dash of red wine vinegar to give it a pickled edge, and serve it alongside leftover cold cuts, or tuck a little into a roast beef or ham sarnie. A dab in a cheese toastie works too, provided the cheese is strong and sharp.

Choose veg with flavour

Regardless of tips, what stands out most is when veg is truly full of flavour. Organic veg has a noticeably fuller flavour that could add an extra level to your festive feast – order from organic veg box company Riverford now and receive in time for Christmas.


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