June 17, 2024


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Nigel Slater’s recipes for light and delicious Christmas starters | Meals

I want to be ushered gently into the Christmas feast. A pair of little programs, crisp and light, to tease and delight before we start carving the roast chook and passing all-around the trimmings.

To start with, some thing frivolous in a glass with some appropriate “bits” (I seriously just cannot bring myself to create the term “canapés” or “nibbles”), then carry on slowly and gradually with a mild, jewel-brilliant very first training course or possibly even two.

I really do mean gentle. It is my perception that a starter really should tempt alternatively than satiate, preferably some thing refreshing and crunchy with flavours that are bright and thoroughly clean with dressings on the sharp side. A plate of piquant flavours to whet our urge for food for what is to appear.

A quite salad of seasonal fruit and vegetables – the fennel, beetroot, apples and purple cabbages that are so superior appropriate now – would nearly unquestionably be welcome and is what I will be passing round the desk. As would anything with ruby-crimson pickles or a citrus dressing. This calendar year, my company will be having a plate of smoked salmon with homemade pink pickles of onion, juniper and coriander seeds or, should really they prefer, a plate of crunchy red cabbage and apple with shards of snow-white goat’s milk cheese and a dressing of honey and walnut oil.

I may possibly follow up with a twirl or two of pasta ribbons, tossed with product, parmesan and black pepper (umami always brings me to the table), but they will be offered as very small plates that will go away all people wanting far more. A modest mound – barely a few forkfuls – of pici or trofie cacio e pepe is what I have in thoughts.

Smoked salmon, beetroot and fennel

The onions below are an incredibly valuable thing to have around. You can start pickling them the day in advance of if you want. I like to have some in the fridge for tossing into salads and tucking into a sandwich. They will keep in a screw-best jar in the fridge for quite a few days. Serves 4

For the onions:
purple onions 150g
malt vinegar 50ml
cider vinegar 125ml
sugar 1 tbsp
juniper berries 6
coriander seeds 1 tsp
black peppercorns a couple
water 125ml

For the salad:
beetroot 250g
fennel 150g
smoked salmon 250g
parsley a handful

For the dressing:
Dijon mustard ½ tsp
white wine vinegar 2½ tbsp
olive oil 6 tbsp

Peel the onions, then slice them thinly into rounds. Pour the vinegars and 125ml of water into a modest saucepan and convey to the boil. Increase the sugar. Flippantly crush the juniper berries with a mortar or by urgent with the back of a spoon, then include to the vinegars with the coriander seeds and peppercorns. As shortly as the sugar has dissolved, include the sliced onions, pushing them down into the liquid, then take away from the warmth, cover with a lid and depart to infuse for an hour. More time will not hurt.

Trim, peel and finely slice the beetroot. Clear away the onions from their pickling juice and put the beetroot slices into it and depart for 30 minutes.

Make the dressing: put the mustard in a compact bowl or jar with a generous pinch of sea salt. Include the vinegar and then conquer in the olive oil with a small whisk or fork.

Trim the fennel, then slice thinly, each piece no thicker than a £1 coin, then put into a mixing bowl. Insert the onions. Minimize or tear the smoked salmon into parts you can get on to your fork, then incorporate to the fennel. Elevate the beetroot from its marinade and increase to the fennel, alongside one another with the parsley leaves. Blend 2 tbsp of the pickling liquor to the dressing then pour into the salad and toss carefully.

Pink cabbage, apple and goat’s cheese

Purple reign: red cabbage, apple and goat’s cheese.
Purple reign: purple cabbage, apple and goat’s cheese. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

I fairly delight in peeling clementines with a knife, dealing with the removing of each trace of pith as something of a challenge. You need a razor-sharp knife. Any remaining on is bitter and ugly, but also gives the impression you don’t treatment. The best way is to slice the major and base from the fruit, sit it up straight on a chopping board then eliminate the peel by slicing downwards, turning the clementine as you go. You can then slice the fruit horizontally or into segments. Serves 4

brussels sprouts 12
clementines 2
apples 2, compact
hazelnuts 3 tbsp toasted
crimson cabbage 4 big leaves
goat’s milk cheese such as Ticklemore, 150g

For the dressing:
liquid honey or maple syrup 1 tbsp
lemon juice 1 tbsp
groundnut or walnut oil 1 tbsp

Deliver a deep, medium-sized saucepan of water to the boil. Trim and halve the sprouts, drop into the boiling h2o and permit them cook dinner for 3 or 4 minutes, until finally vivid green. Drain and tip the sprouts promptly into a bowl of iced water.

Peel the clementines, then slice every a person thinly. Put them in a mixing bowl. Halve, main and thinly slice the apples and increase to the bowl. Halve the hazelnuts.

Clean the cabbage leaves, position them on major of each other, roll them up tightly, then slice into wonderful, fettucine-like parts. Toss the cabbage, drained sprouts, apples and clementines with each other.

Make the dressing: put the honey or maple syrup into a small bowl with the lemon juice, a pinch of salt and couple of grinds of the pepper mill. Conquer in the oil and pour around the salad. Thinly slice the cheese, include to the salad, then toss everything together tenderly.

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