Give your Christmas side dishes a Middle Eastern makeover by enhancing your vegetables with zaatar, pomegranate and spices.

Beetroot salad

Mix 3 tbs Italian or French salad dressing with 3 tbs dried cranberries and set aside to rehydrate. Mix the following ingredients together on a platter: 1 tub of ready-cooked beetroot pieces, 1 pack of mixed salad leaves and 2 stalks thinly sliced celery. Just before serving, pour dressing and cranberries over salad along with a handful of chopped pecans, then toss to combine.

Roasted cauliflower with zaatar

Break 2 heads cauliflower into florets. Place on a roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil. Toss well to coat. Sprinkle with a handful of pumpkin seeds. Season with salt and 2-3 tbs zaatar. Roast at 220°C for 30 minutes until cauliflower is tender and golden, tossing once or twice during the cooking time.

Couscous, cabbage & turkey bacon

Bring 350ml water to the boil. Add 350ml couscous. Cover, then remove from the heat and set aside to steam for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, chop 125g turkey bacon and fry until almost crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside. Leave the fat in the pan. Add half a chopped onion and sauté until soft. Add 2-3 cups finely shredded Chinese cabbage or savoy cabbage. Stir-fry until tender. Add to couscous with turkey bacon. Season.

Roasted vegetables

Mix the following ingredients together in a roasting pan: 2 cups whole or halved mixed mushrooms, 1 bunch baby carrots, 4 baby gem squash, halved (or 2 zucchinis, cut into batons), and 10 halved brussels sprouts. Mix 3 tbs olive oil and 2 crushed garlic cloves together. Pour over vegetables and toss gently to coat. Roast at 180°C for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Mix 2 tsp chopped thyme and 2 tbs chopped parsley together. Mix with 1½ tbs melted butter. Pour over vegetables season to taste.

Hasselback potatoes

Scrub 6-8 large potatoes. Boil in salted water for 10 minutes, then drain well. Cool slightly, then peel. Preheat oven to 220°C. Cut a thin layer off 1 side of each potato so they stand upright. Cut across potatoes at 2-3mm intervals, but don’t cut right through. Put potatoes on a roasting tray. Heat 60g butter, 1½ tbs olive oil and 2 crushed garlic cloves until melted. Season with salt and pepper and 2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary leaves. Pour butter mixture over potatoes. Roast for 1 hour or until golden and crispy, basting 2-3 times during cooking.

Christmas menu

Starters

Prawn & asparagus salad with coconut dressing
Chicken liver paté with sweet & sour grapes

Mains

Rolled turkey breast with apricots and cashews
Ricotta & herb roast chicken with fig glaze
Festive side dishes

Desserts

Apple & marzipan strudel
Chocolate-cherry ice cream bombe