12 Festive Family Menus to Get You Through This Holiday Season
From easy, cozy vegetarian suppers to full on feasts, countdown to the holidays with these celebratory dinner ideas.
When the holidays approach and nights grow cold, the season calls us to create a warm glow as we hunker indoors and celebrate friends and family. What better way than by feeding them? To whet your appetite and help you plan a series of festive meals we have curated 12 special, seasonally-inspired menus for you to share with loved ones. With everything from low-key two-course weeknight suppers and vegan and vegetarian comfort cooking to slow-cooked one-pot meaty wonders redolent with red wine and herbs, we've built show-stopping feasts designed to appeal to your entire family in the weeks leading up the big holidays.
A sense of well-being radiates from a sumptuous vegetarian lasagna where butternut squash and fresh sage balance lashings of ricotta and cream. The velvet complexity of beef short ribs cooked for hours in pomegranate juice invites quiet conversation as spoons are dipped into bowls. A party platter of inviting raw vegetables and sweet shrimp with two opulent dips evokes sunnier climes. And the desserts? They are odes to the season, calling on persimmon, clementine, spice, and a touch of chocolate.
Whether you are toasting one another in person, a family of close friends or relatives gathering for a meal remotely, or seeing in the season on your own, enjoy the creation of these meals—the stirring, the tasting, and the sipping (yes, we have cocktails)—that make the most of seasonal produce, that honor timeless classics, and that feed our need for company, whether virtual or in real life.
A Vegetarian Lasagna Dinner
Layers of pasta and sweet butternut squash in a sage-and-nutmeg-flecked sauce of ricotta, cream, and egg yolks make this warming main course for eight rich enough to require a brightly assertive side dish. Salad is the answer: Soft bibb lettuce leaves are combined with in-season pink grapefruit and avocado, fresh herbs, and a vinaigrette where mustard and white wine vinegar add extra acidic punch.
A Comforting Broccoli Soup and Barley Risotto Supper
Begin this easy, healthy, seasonal meal with a vivid green broccoli and baby spinach soup. For your entrée, the satisfying nuttiness of barley pairs beautifully with the woodsy flavor of sautéed mushrooms in a satisfying autumn-inspired barley risotto. (To make the main dish vegetarian, simply substitute mushroom or vegetable broth for the chicken broth.)
Duck Dinner for Two
In this warm main-course salad, the sweet earthiness of red and golden roasted beets complements succulent, celebratory duck. Juicy segments of bittersweet grapefruit and pomelo balance its fattiness and an unapologetically powerful dressing (garlic, coriander, mint!) pulls it all together. With such a heathy entrée, you deserve dessert: a luscious Deep-Dish Pumpkin Ice Box Pie.
A Soup Celebration
Why should a simple but boldly seasoned soup not take its place proudly as a featured dinner dish? Serve this spiced yet sweet butternut squash and apple soup with hot, tender Cheddar biscuits. Then end this easy meal for four with a blood orange and caramel dessert that's as simple as it is gorgeous.
Fireside Beef Stew with Fennel Salad
A quick, crunchy salad with slivers of fennel and segments of satsuma doesn't need a dressing—just a slick of good olive oil. The classic red wine and beef stew, perfumed with aromatic vegetables and herbs, cooks low and slow (and can be prepared in advance and re-heated) feeds six. Horseradish and fresh parsley added at the end with dollops of sour cream make all the difference. For leisurely nibbling, keep a stash of our pumpkin-purée snickerdoodles on hand, fragrant with nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice.
A Quick Festive Supper
Prepared ahead and warmed through, a scoop of butternut-spiked mashed potatoes allows you to catch every drop of the buttery, thyme-flecked pan juices from quickly cooked skillet-chicken with button mushrooms that are the center of this family-friendly meal for four. Dessert is easy, delicious, and healthy, too; pear quarters drizzled with honey and made festive with ruby pomegranate seeds.
A Persimmon and Pomegranate Party
These two fall jewels—persimmons and antioxidant-rich pomegranates—are stunningly ornamental and versatile, and they appear throughout this celebratory dinner for eight. In a simple salad, supple persimmon slices are a sweet foil for the crisp, bitter leaves of escarole. Sweetly braised fennel pops with pomegranate in a side dish to accompany pomegranate-juice glazed short ribs, falling from the bone. The not-to-be-missed dessert is a fudgy Persimmon Tart scented with cardamom.
Comfort and Crunch for Cold Weather
A Celebratory Citrus-Themed Dinner
We play with all the citrus possibilities in this dinner for four, opening with warm, broiled feta with oregano and oranges (and most necessary, plenty of crusty bread) and featuring a fiery roast chicken centerpiece infused with harissa and lemon plus a simple side of lemony braised broccolini that adds necessary green. Dessert is as pretty, light and refreshing too, it's an easy Clementine Granita served in frozen citrus-shell "cups."
Let's Get Spicy: A Vegan Holiday Dinner for Four
Kicking off with aromatic mulled Lillet, this winter squash-inspired vegan supper sings with spice. Acorn and butternut squash star in the salad that's dressed with lime juice and chile. followed by a gingery mash that combines kabocha and cauliflower and is topped with lemony roasted Brussels sprouts. Dessert is a no-bake, gluten-free decadent wonder, Dark Chocolate-Walnut Date Bar, that's creamy thanks to peanut butter.
Pescatarian Christmas Eve Feast
A prosecco and cranberry cocktail introduces a no-holds-barred fish-forward menu that celebrates sparkling fresh seafood. It begins with an impressive platter of shrimp and crudités (with tuna mayonnaise and green goddess dip for slathering on the cooked eggs and beautiful raw vegetables), and moves on to the main event: a rich seafood linguine, which is our delectable one-pot version of the traditional Seven Fishes Feast. The meals ends with a crowd-pleasing persimmon pudding filled with nuts and dried fruit and licked by brandy.
A Christmas Day Extravaganza
Sip a crimson vin d'orange punch as you pass-around appealing appetizers of persimmon and brie crostini and deviled eggs before sitting down to a festive meal. A brace of entrées follows: a roasted turkey breast roulade filled with dried cranberries, pistachios and fresh herbs, and a spiced ham in a citrus glaze. These meaty wonders are kept company by the best that the season has to offer: a dish of herb-roasted potatoes, salads of roasted butternut, apple, and cippolini onions, and farro with oven-roasted grapes and autumn greens. We don't think you will have space for dessert, but we know you'll make room for our Chocolate Pumpkin Tart that showcases fluffy-light pumpkin purée sweetened with maple syrup, and baked atop a dark chocolate base.