The scent of wood smoke drifting from the braai, long hot summer evenings, happy faces around the table… everyone looks forward to December in South Africa! It’s a time to unwind, catch up with friends and family, and put your feet up after a long, hard year.
Except if you’re the one doing all the hard work in the kitchen.
How many times have you found yourself alone in the kitchen while everyone else is relaxing outside? And how many times has everyone woken up on New Year’s Day wishing they hadn’t over-indulged during the festive season? Read our top tips for making December entertaining a breeze this year – we have great ideas for putting lighter, brighter, healthier dishes on your festive table so everyone feels well-nourished and satisfied, and with a minimum of fuss.
Keep our recipes easy and simple
Simple, delicious food prepared with love is all that’s needed to please most guests. While there’s nothing wrong with a traditional turkey or gammon plus all the trimmings, people are usually quite happy with lighter food that’s better suited to our hot climate. A big platter of golden, lemony roast chickens, or a cut of tender roasted meat, or fresh seafood hot from the braai will satisfy everyone. Easy recipes to try:
- Chicken: Spicy Maas Marinated Chicken; Garlic and Rosemary Roast Chicken with Creamy Spinach; Lemony Stuffed Roast Chicken with a Sweet Potato, Leek & Cauliflower Gratin
- Seafood: Lemon Garlic Prawns on the Braai; Lemon and Herb Braaied Fish; Festive Seafood Paella
- Meat: Chargrilled Fillet with a Creamy Mixed Peppercorn Sauce; Beef Fillet Medallions; Bacon-Wrapped Pork Fillets with Apple Stuffing
Keep it fresh
Few people fancy over-boiled peas or Brussels sprouts in December – instead, go for light, fresh, colourful salads. More substantial salads containing carbs (such as potato, beetroot, rice or couscous salad) can be prepared well in advance, and crisp, leafy salads don’t take long to make at the last minute. This year, how about introducing your guests to some of the delicious ancient grains and pulses featured in our list of Future 50 Foods? They’re wonderful served cool with a variety of interesting veggies and a tasty KNORR dressing. Easy recipes to try:
- Grain Salads: Quinoa Salad; Spicy Roast Pumpkin, Peach and Millet Salad; Turmeric Millet Pilaf with Pickled Beetroot, Mint and Feta; Pesto Wild Rice Salad with Spring Onions and Parmesan
- Lentil Salads: Butternut, Lentil and Spinach Salad with a Roasted Garlic Dressing; Roasted Sweet Potato and Lentil Salad; Roasted Beetroot, Lentil and Feta Salad
- Leafy Salads: Seven-Colour Coleslaw; Spinach, Bacon and Feta Salad; Caesar Salad
- Protein-rich Salads: Chicken Caprese Salad; Light Basil and Lemon Chicken Salad; Tropical Trout Salad; Wild Rice Chicken Salad with Baby Marrows and Avocado; Seared Beef, Sweet Potato and Lentil Salad
Instead of traditional roast potatoes, or pap, or garlic bread, surprise your guests with gorgeous veggie dishes bursting with colour, flavour and nutrition. These recipes are also great if you’re entertaining vegetarians, who so often end up feeling short-changed at festive feasts. Vegetarian recipes to try:
- Roasted Tomato, Kale and Feta Tray Bake; Creamed Spinach with Toasted Walnuts and Olives; Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Three Cheese Sauce and Crunchy Hazelnuts; Baked Sweet Potato with Three-Cheese Sauce and Spinach; Roasted BBQ Carrots with Tahini, Sesame Seeds and Feta
Few people will feel like a heavy pudding after such a substantial summer feast. Again, keep it light and simple. Ice creams, ice cream cakes and fruity lollies are a great idea for festive desserts, because they can be made and frozen a few days before. Or simply lay out a beautiful fresh platter of chilled seasonal fruit – litchis, mangos, peaches – plus nuts and chocolates, or a few good cheeses.
Prepare everything ahead, and delegate!
Make extensive lists, and prepare as much as you can well in advance. If you have a dishwasher, make sure it’s empty and ready to go before you serve the meal. It’s also important to delegate! Rope in the family, especially the kids, to help lay the table and get everything ready early in the day. Half the fun of a festive feast is working together to prepare it! So put on some happy music, take plenty of pictures, and enjoy creating memories your loved ones will treasure for years to come.