Are you looking for some alternative Christmas dish recipes? Then look no further as we have some seriously delicious, knock out options that will deliver beautiful flavours, texture and colour to your table. Taking inspiration from the Middle East, we have a seasonal chestnut Christmas inspired dip, an action packed squash roasted loaf and a salted chocolate babka to finish off the feast. These dishes will become firm favourites and are no doubt going to make an appearance each festive season.
Parsnip & Chestnut Dip with Lavosh Flatbreads
- 4-6 parsnips peeled and cooked until soft
- 1 vacuum pack container of cooked chestnuts
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
- ¾ tsp Maldon sea salt
- 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
- 30g tahini (optional)
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 6 tbsp hot water
- Freshly chopped parsley leaves to finish or crispy sage leaves (optional)
1. Combine cooked chestnuts, parsnips, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, extra virgin olive oil, hot water and salt in a food processor. Process until smooth, add more water for a thinner consistency.
2. To serve, spoon into a serving bowl, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt flakes, toasted seeds and crispy sage leaves or parsley if you like.
3. Serve with Lavosh or thin crackers if you don’t have them.
Persian Squash, Baharat, Date & Pistachio Loaf
- 400g Persian squash or similar
- Olive oil
- 1 red onion, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 100g Medjoul dates, roughly chopped
- 2 tsp Baharat spice
- 2 tsp coriander seeds, bashed in a pestle and mortar
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1 small bunch coriander, chopped
- ½ bunch fresh mint, chopped
- 200g tinned or vacuum-packed chestnuts, roughly chopped
- 100g shelled pistachios (Israeli for super green colour), roughly chopped
- 50g flaked almonds
- 100g cooked quinoa
- 2 medium free-range eggs
- 1 pomegranate, deseeded
- 1 pack feta (seasoned with zest of 1 lemon)
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Grease a 24cm loose-bottomed cake tin and line with baking paper.
2. Peel and chop the squash into 1cm chunks, keeping the seeds, then place onto a baking tray with olive oil and salt and roast for 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Roast the reserved seeds in a little oil too, but these will only take 5 minutes or so, or until crunchy.
4. In a frying pan over a medium heat, cook the onion in a little oil until soft and translucent, this may take around 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so, until beginning to soften, then add all the spices and cook out. Set aside.
5. Blitz half the pistachios and the almonds until they’re ground into small pieces with texture.
6. In a bowl, mix the nuts, quinoa, dates, lemon zest, crushed coriander, chestnuts, onion and eggs.
7. Take the squash out of the oven and lightly squish half of it, mixing it all into the bowl with all the other ingredients.
8. Pile the lot into the prepared tin and press down to flatten. Cook in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until set.
9. If using the feta, place it in a bowl all broken up, zest over the lemon and black pepper and a good drizzle of oil and leave it to marinate.
10. Once cooked, allow to cool slightly and then remove from the tin.
11. This could be made in advance and re-heated wrapped in foil in your oven.
12. Scatter the loaf with the feta (if using), pomegranate seeds and the other half of the pistachios. Serve alongside your Christmas dinner or as an alternative to Turkey!
TIP to make this recipe vegan friendly – substitute the eggs for 2 tablespoons of chia seeds mixed with 6 tablespoons of water and left to soak and remove the feta from the garnish
Salted Chocolate & Pistachio Babka
(makes 1 loaf – serves 8-10 people)
- 150ml whole milk
- 140g unsalted butter, room temp
- 125g plain flour
- 125g strong white bread flour
- ½ tsp fine salt
- 40g caster sugar
- 7g fast-action yeast
- 2 eggs
- 60g unsalted butter
- 80g soft light brown sugar
- 100g dark chocolate
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 60g green Israeli pistachios, roughly chopped
- Maldon salt 1 tsp
1. Melt 40g butter together in a pan with the milk, but don’t let it boil.
2. Place flours, salt, sugar and yeast in a bowl or a standing mixer and mix to combine. Then add the warmed milk and one egg to the bowl.
3. Mix just to combine and then then attach the dough hook and mix for 15 minutes on a medium speed.
4. After 15 minutes add the remaining soft butter, a little at a time, making sure all of the butter is incorporated before adding the next spoon.
5. Once all the butter has been added, mix for another few minutes until the dough is smooth, elastic and slightly sticky.
6. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave at room temperate until almost doubled in size.
7. Meanwhile mix the filling ingredients together in a bowl leaving out the chopped pistachios.
8. Lightly flour a clean work surface and tip the dough out, roll out to a 28cm x 60cm. Dust with extra flour to keep it from sticking.
9. Spread the filling out over the dough and sprinkle with the pistachios and the Maldon salt.
10. From the long edge, fold up, rolling like a Swiss roll. Cut the dough lengthways to reveal the centre of the dough filling leaving the end attached by a few inches. Twist the dough around each piece and lay in the greased loaf tin.
11. Cover loosely with oiled cling film, to stop it from sticking, and leave in a warm place to prove for about 30 minutes or until when you make an indent with your finger it doesn’t bounce back.
12. Meanwhile heat your oven to 160C fan.
13. Beat the other egg and use it the brush the top the dough, gently.
14. Bake for around 1 hour, covering with foil after 25 minutes to keep it from browning too much. Allow to cool slightly in the tin and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving.
(Above Babka photography by Jonathan Stiers)