If you’re finding yourself in a last-minute time crunch before the holiday guests arrive, we’ve compiled our favorite festive dishes that feature easy-to-find and pantry-staple ingredients with straightforward techniques, and little active cooking time.
Sauteed Mixed Mushrooms
This rich, flavorful side cooks in less then 20 minutes, and if you don’t have all the varieties of mushrooms on hand, you can substitute or just use what you have.
You can find the prosciutto, arugula, goat cheese, and fig preserves needed for these easy-to-make appetizers at most good grocery stores. Garnish with parsley sprigs and pomegranate seeds for a festive touch. _See the Recipe for Prosciutto Rolls »_
Braising carrots slowly in butter, rather than steaming or boiling them, brings out their natural sweetness. Maple syrup adds a delicate glaze and a rich flavor.
Fingerling Potatoes with Bacon
The secret to this simple dish is to use the best quality bacon available. Delicious and straightforward, you can whip this dish together quickly while keeping the oven available for other jobs.
This crowd-pleasing dip has ingredients stocked at any grocery (and possibly already in your pantry). You can skip the overnight chilling time if you don’t want to prepare the dip in advance. _See the recipe for Savannah-Style Artichoke Dip »_
Smoky bacon and plenty of garlic and onion boost the flavor of the cabbage in this winter side dish, which first appeared in our December 2013 issue along with Mike Colameco’s article All is Calm, All is Bright. The active cooking time for this recipe is very little, so you can focus on other dishes as the cabbage braises.
Oysters with White Wine
If you happen to live somewhere you can easily get good quality oysters, this dish is a cinch to prepare–the ingredient list consists of oysters, salt, and white wine, and you only need 5-10 minutes of roasting time. Have your fishmonger shuck the oysters for you to save even more on prep time. See the recipe for Roasted Oysters with White Wine »
Little Toasts with Smoked Mozzarella and Anchovies
These crostini are a great way to use leftover Italian bread or baguette. If you can’t find smoked mozzarella or salt-packed anchovies, you can substitute regular mozzarella and/or oil-packed anchovies&emdash;the dish will be a little different, but just as delicious and easy to prepare. _See the recipe for Little Toasts with Smoked Mozzarella and Anchovies »_
Macaroni with Goat Cheese, Spinach, and Tomatoes
Fresh goat cheese makes a creamy, velvety sauce for pasta baked with spinach and topped with sliced tomatoes that is bright with festive colors, and deeply comforting. And as it takes only slightly longer than an hour to cook, this can be a main player in a delicious and casual last-minute Christmas dinner.
Green Beans Almondine
This classic recipe calls for few and easy-to-find ingredients and takes about 10 minutes start-to-finish, giving the cook time to focus on other things… like opening presents, perhaps? _See the recipe for Green Beans Almondine »_
Slow-Cookied Broccoli Rabe
This recipe for broccoli rabe may take over an hour of cooking time, but doesn’t require much attention from the cook beyond occasional stirring. The simple ingredients are transformed into the perfect winter comfort food while you wait, and the garlic chips and red chile flakes give the finished dish a festive look. See the recipe for Slow-Cooked Broccoli Rabe »
Roasting is one of the easier preparations of potatoes, and if you use small new potatoes quartered lengthwise, you only need to keep them in the oven for 20 minutes. Leftovers are great for breakfast the next day! _See the recipe for Roasted Potatoes »_
Fennel Baked in Cream
Gabrielle Hamilton’s recipe for this Italian-style fennel gratin is as straightforward as they come: toss wedges of fennel in oil, cream, salt, pepper, and parmesan, then bake until tender and bubbly. This technique also works well with very thinly sliced potatoes. _See the recipe for Fennel Baked in Cream »_
This classic Italian-American dish feels fancy and familiar at once. The dish comes together quickly, and aside from the shrimp, you probably already have all the other ingredients on hand, making it a perfect candidate for an easy Christmas dinner among friends and family. See the recipe for Shrimp Scampi »
Using a weight to push down on a partially de-boned chicken significantly reduces cooking time. This simple recipe is adapted from a house favorite at Brooklyn restaurant Marlow & Sons. _See the recipe for Brick Chicken »_
Pan-Seared Steaks with Mustard-Cream Sauce
A simple pan-seared steak needs no prep beyond salt and peppering the steak, and takes just 4-6 minutes of cooking time per side. This steak pairs well with potatoes of all varieties and most vegetables, so pulling together a whole meal should be easy. If you don’t want to bother with making the mustard sauce, simply top the steaks with a pad of herbed butter or creamy gorgonzola cheese. _See the recipe for Pan-Seared Steaks »_
Swedish Dream Cookies
The dough for these airy Swedish holiday treats needs no chilling time, so you can mix and bake at will. If you can’t find vanilla sugar, you can make your own by slitting a vanilla bean lengthwise, burying it in an airtight container of sugar, and letting the mixture sit for several days. In a pinch, just use the same amount of regular granulated sugar and add a drop or two of vanilla extract. See the recipe for Swedish Dream Cookies »>