Time-saving recipes for a complete Christmas menu

. 3 min read

Personally, I enjoy Christmas cooking. So much, in fact, that I'm willing to make more effort and spend more time wit it. I make a killer swede casserole that is a lot more work that my usual cookings - even after laborious preparations it spends two hours in the oven. But I totally understand people who don't like spending time in the kitchen, or see cooking as a stressful chore. Then again, getting everything ready from the store, to be popped in the oven with no personal touch, is kind of lame. That's why I'm sharing my favourite Christmas dishes that are painless, quick, and simple to do yourself. You can make all of these and display them in a packed Christmas dinner table style, or divide them into entrees, mains, and desserts, according to your preference.

As a source of protein, salmon is both super healthy and super easy to prepare. Get a fresh salmon fillet from the store, place it in a pan, sprinkle with salt and black pepper and lemon juice, and cook in the oven in 200 C / 390 F for 20 to 30 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. You can make a garlic creme fraiche to serve with it - just squeeze 1 or 2 cloves into each 200 grams of creme fraiche, depending on how garlicky you like it. (You can also use black pepper and lemon juice if you don't like garlic.) An avocado - lemon juice - salt - chilli flake salsa is also amazing with salmon - just smash all the ingredients together with a fork.

Then, sides - some say sides are the most important thing on a Christmas table. To make it super quick and easy, get a bunch of different vegetables, preferably seasonal, cut them into bite-sized pieces, throw them on a parchment paper on a baking tray, drizzle some olive oil on top, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and my favourite, chilli flakes (optional). Bake in the oven in the same temperature as the salmon for about 15 minutes. This side is not only healthy but also insanely delicious. My favourite vegetables for this purpose are broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, garlic, and cherry tomatoes. Regular potatoes, cut into wedges, are also amazing prepared this way. (The avocado salsa is superb with these as well so be sure to make enough of it!) I would also recommend red lentils with the vegetables but since you should drain them first, and thus the preparation process isn't the easiest or quickest there is, you can prepare rice or quinoa in a pot over the stove - they'll cook themselves, you just need to turn on the stove, add the water (and salt if you like), and stir once or twice during the cooking.

You can also have a large loaf of bread and a large chunk of butter on the table, especially if you're serving soup. A quick an easy soup recipe: cook 400 g frozen cauliflower in boiling water for 5 minutes, drain of most of the water, place in a food processor with 50 to 70 g of butter (according to taste) and salt (and an optional garlic clove), process until smooth. (Optional: garnish with parsley and olive oil.)

Desserts are usually a pain in the butt, at least for me - I made a traditional cheesecake last night and it had to sit in the oven for 4 hours after I turned it off (to prevent cracking) so I had to get up at 2:30 in the morning to move the cake from the cooled-down oven into the fridge. (Not to mention the preparation process. Let's not go there.) But easy desserts exist! Rice pudding works (almost makes itself, just add ingredients to a pot according to the product instructions), gingerbread works, chocolates and coffee work. No need to panic here.

When it comes to drinks, there's no point making anything yourself. Get wines (red, white, sparkling, mulled, whatever you like) from the store and place on the table. Add a jug of water. You can add lemon juice, ice cubes, herbs, fruits, anything of your liking to spice the water up and make the jug visually pleasing.

The point here is: you don't have to make a fuzz to create a home-made Christmas menu. And if you really detest cooking and baking of all sorts, you can always ask your guests to bring dishes - or get everything ready from the store. Having a good time over dinner is more important than showing off your cooking skills, or lack thereof.