Creatively complimenting each other it is the choice of foods served which create the bounty and beauty of the holiday meal display.
Excitingly colorful and with a wide variety of dishes there is something breath taking in a seasonal table display. Besides consisting of a much wider variety of side dishes compared to other meals the holiday table also generally contains a color theme accenting the season it represents.
Whether it is for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter a holiday dinner usually has turkey or ham presenting itself as the main attraction on the table. There are also a number of side dishes that go along with the main fare to make this dinner the anticipated event that it is.
So how do we plan our menu and select the main and side dishes that will go onto our dining table to make this holiday meal spectacular? Thinking variety, color, and excitement we consider how satisfying a food is to those who will be attending the meal, how taste tempting it is, and its attractiveness in relation to the other foods set onto the table.
The First Selection is the Type of Meat You Will Serve
We generally first select the meat or meats that will be served for this festivity. The most popular choices in meat for the Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter holidays are for turkey or ham.
From this point there are a few very natural choices in side dishes to go along with the chosen main fare served. Turkey will generally be accompanied by side dishes of gravy, cranberries or cranberry sauce. Ham will be served with applesauce and a honey glaze or other sauce as side dishes.
Selecting a filling staple side dish is the second step in the planning of this meal. Filling foods such as potato, yam, rice, or noodles are generally chosen. Turkey is likely to be served with dressing and mashed potatoes as side dishes.
Potatoes are traditionally the main staple food for most holiday tables. These can be anything from plain mashed potatoes, to fancy scalloped potatoes, potato salad, fried, baked or boiled potatoes.
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Never under estimate the beauty of a white sauce. Quick and easy to make it can add a wonderfully festive appearance to your dishes.
Peas, carrots, broccoli, and boiled baby potatoes are vegetables that look amazing served floating in a thick white sauce. These are a dishes that are appetizingly fabulous. for any occasion.
Another way to make use of a white sauce is to bake it. Scalloped potatoes with a sprinkling of bacon bits, and green onion or parsley over the top can look very seasonal.
Potato, Yam, Stuffing, Pasta, or Rice?
As there are generally visitors attending for the holidays it is important to take into account the taste preferences and food sensitivities of those individuals. This is one of the main reasons that a wider variety of side foods are generally served for this seasonal meal. Many households choose to serve 2 types of meat and the same for each of the main side dish options.
Sweet potato or yam can be served along side or to replace standard white potato. For those who may have a food sensitivity rice is a food that is generally well tolerated by most people making it an excellent item to serve to visiting guests.
A fancy pasta can be very festive for the holidays and most varieties have the wonderful option of being served hot from the pot or as a cold salad. Pasta dishes offer a wide range of serving options making them a highly versatile alternative for a seasonal meal.
Farfalle and Farfalloni are ribbon or bow shaped pasta that can be delightfully seasonal. Tripolini is bow tie shape similar to the ribbon pasta it is quite a festive noodle. Campanelle is a bell shaped noodle that is very decorative for a holiday meal. Conchiglie is a shell shaped noodle that is popular with children.
Filled pasta are also very nice to serve as a compliment to the main fare as it can be eaten as a filling alternative by those who choose to bypass the other. Pierogi, ravioli, pelmeni, tortellini, rigatoni, and agnolotti are some of the more popular choices.
Pasta Can be a Delightfully Festive Side Dish Option
Select Color Coordinating Vegetables and Salads
No meal is complete without vegetable. Fruits and vegetables offer up a wonderfully wide range of healthy options that can also add a wave of color to your table display.
With such a wonderful selection of vegetables to choose from it can be difficult to choose just one or two for the holiday meal. Fortunately you don't have to. There really is no need to limit the number of vegetable side dishes you select to serve.
When selecting vegetables for your meal consider first how their color will compliment the occasion. Holiday colors will add a seasonal flare to your Christmas meal or Thanksgiving meal. Cranberries are red so they are an ideal choice for a Thanksgiving or Christmas table. Beets, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and peas are other popular holiday Christmas vegetables.
After you have your seasonal colored fruits and vegetables selected you can then move on to choosing others such as corn, carrot, turnip, or cauliflower. Bright red, green, yellow, and orange vegetables can beautifully compliment lighter color ones. You are completely open in the number of vegetable side dishes that you set on your table. The more the merrier. Serve them hot or cold or a mix of both.
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Salads Truly are Sensational!
Now comes the choice of salads and what a tremendous variety there is to choose from. Salads are some of the most exciting foods that you can set on your table because there really is no limit to what you can put into them.
Garden salad, pasta salad, gelatin salad, Greek, Ceasar, coleslaw, bean, or fruit. Colorful and bursting with flavor these side dishes are going to bring your holiday table to life. The salad is a compliment to main side dishes so generally one or two is quite sufficient to complete the table.
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The Holidays are an Ideal Time for Traditional Family Dishes
Most families also include a traditional dish into their Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter meal planning. The holidays are the ideal time to celebrate your family heritage and food is one of the most delightful ways to do this.
These dishes are of course generally based on your heritage, and are a dish that is unique to, or passed down within, the family. Perogie, cabbage rolls, Babka, Burli, dumplings, strudel, and wurst are a few examples of these. Be sure to include one in your holiday meal.
To top off the list of side dishes a bread is also generally served with the Christmas meal, the choice of which is completely up to the host or hostess. One bread or many can be offered to your guests. White bread, brown bread, sour dough, sweet buns, dinner buns, or fancy breads, the choice is entirely yours to make.
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Set Your Table and Serve
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