Countdown To Christmas: Dinner


Dinner, oh dinner.
Yeah, this is the big one. It’s also the one that by experience has proven that planning ahead, pop it in the oven kind of dinners are waaaay more enjoyable than missing out on events while slaving away in the kitchen. Plus, there really are so many relatively quick and impressive recipe options to choose from, so I can watch the yule log burn on the Apple tv and sip wine while I build some new lego…  (or play with cooking show Barbie – Shhhhhh.)

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without mashed potatoes. And although I’m sure you know how to make those, I’ve added a little roasted garlic to these. Not only does it make them extra good, it’s going to match up the rest of the dishes served.

Next are steamed green beans, because you can’t go wrong with those. I really don’t know anyone who doesn’t like them… even the picky seats at the kiddie table!

To balance things out, I just wouldn’t be a mother if I didn’t serve brussels sprouts. Actually, these are the one vegetables I was made to sit and stare at as a child but thankfully, I’ve learned to cook them properly. The trick is to under cook them, there the secret’s out – now stand back and watch and the hoards make way in the produce aisle! Briefly roasted with oil, then tossed with rosemary and a little of the dinner’s themed garlic seemed utterly delicious!

One of my most favourite sides I’ve made almost too many times to count. Popular around Thanksgiving, yet I haven’t made it for Christmas. Combine two of my favourites, it’s a creamy spinach and squash gratin.

The main attraction? Another relatively easy but impressive dish. Adapted from Gourmet’s November issue. This mushroom spinach pie has a little something for everyone with earthy mushrooms, spinach, walnuts and, of course, roasted garlic.

My favourite part? The pie seriously took me about six minutes to make it but it can be made hours in advance.

This dinner will serve 4- 6.

SIMPLE ROASTED GARLIC

3 Bulbs Garlic
2 Tablespoons Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Cut the tops from each bulb and peel the outermost layers of papery skin from the garlic.
Coat each bulb well with the olive oil and roast for 30 – 35 minutes, until each bulb is soft, sticky and golden brown. Adding more oil or cover with foil, if necessary to avoid drying and over-browning.

ROASTED GARLIC MASHED POTATOES

4 Large Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Bulb Roasted Garlic
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt, or to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Using a pressure cooker or traditional stove top method, boil the potatoes until soft.
Drain then mash by hand, those little lumps and bits are good.
Squeeze the cooled garlic from the skin into a bowl and mash with a fork.
Add the garlic, oil, continuing to mash until fluffy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH + SPINACH GRATIN

This recipe can be made days ahead, up to the point of adding the crumb topping, which can be done while reheating.

1 Small Butternut Squash
1/2  Bulb Roasted Garlic, about 2 Tablespoons mashed
6 Cups Baby Spinach Leaves, packed
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk, or unsweetened soy milk will do
1/2 Tablespoon Arrowroot Powder
1/8 teaspoon Freshly Ground Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Salt, scant
1/4 teaspoon Pepper, to your liking
2 Slices Whole Wheat bread
1/4 Cup Earth Balance Butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Dried Rosemary, crumbled – optional

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Lightly spray a casserole dish with oil.
Sauté the spinach in the olive oil. Once wilted, remove with a squeeze and discard any extra liquid.
Slice the neck of the squash in to 1/4″ rounds. Remove the skin from the edge and evenly layer the bottom the casserole dish.
Sprinkle over a pinch of salt and pepper.
Top with sautéed spinach, nutmeg, another sprinkling of salt and pepper, then evenly dot with the roasted garlic.
Add another layer of squash to cover in an even layer, sprinkling over another pinch of the salt and pepper.
Combine the almond milk with the arrowroot powder and pour over the squash.
Tightly cover with foil and bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork.
Meanwhile toast the bread slices to dry out completely. Either add to a food processor or chop finely by hand.
Add the butter and rosemary to the crumbs, mixing evenly.
Top the baked squash with the crumb mixture. Return it to the oven and continue to bake uncovered for about 10 minutes or until brown and crusty.

MUSHROOM SPINACH + WALNUT PIE

2 (397g) Packages Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Cups Sliced Mushrooms, I used crimini, but I’m doing shiitake for the next one.
8 Cups Baby Spinach, packed
1/4 Cup Walnuts, chopped
1 Bulb Roasted Garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dried Rosemary, crumbled
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté until soft and browned.
Remove the mushrooms to cool.
Add the remaining oil and sauté the spinach leaves.
While the spinach wilts and the mushrooms cool, roll out the first package of dough into about a 12″x8″ rectangle.
Place the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Top the dough with the mushrooms, then the wilted spinach.
Sprinkle over salt, pepper, rosemary and chopped walnuts.
Roll out the remaining dough to top the pie, crimping and tucking the edges under.
Lightly score the top with a sharp blade, occasionally piercing for steam vents.
Bake in the center of the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden and crisp.

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~ by Dayna on December 22, 2008.

15 Responses to “Countdown To Christmas: Dinner”

  1. I made brussel sprouts roasted in balsamic vinegar with garlic and red onions. I am the only one who likes them. Made them at mignight and ate at 2 AM-just because I forgot to eat all day. Yum-o!

  2. DIVINE holiday eats!!

  3. I don’t think holiday meals are complete anymore without Brussels sprouts (properly cooked, of course!). Your mushroom spinach pie looks absolutely incredible. Wow. It definitely doesn’t look like it was simple to make, from the photo.
    You are so right about making recipes that are quick for a stress-free holiday meal. I love cooking, but when I am pressed for time I get so stressed out!

  4. beautiful pic and i am making your puff for dinner tonight!

  5. Oh my GOD, your dinner looks AMAZING! I’m so jealous, especially because no one in my house eats brussels sprouts but me. Merry Christmas, and happy eating!

  6. This whole dinner looks incredible and so tasty. I hope someday soon my family will let me make an entirely vegan dinner for the holidays – my brother usually complains. But with dishes like these, I don’t see how he could!

  7. That has got to be the most attractive photo of mashed potatoes I have ever seen! now I am dying to create that mushroom-spinach concoction, it looks and sounds sooo good! Happy holidays.

  8. I just found your blog from Jadens Steamy Kitchen, so glad I did, everything looks so delicious! I’ve starred most of your posts to make asap!!

  9. I also came over from Steamy Kitchen and I’m interested in trying out a bunch of your recipes. But feel compelled to mention that puff pastry is loaded with butter. Not exactly Vegan but then still unsure of how strict you are on it.

    Hi Barry, Thanks for your visit, and your comment. As a constant label reader, I’ve found that there are a few brands that make vegan products, specifically puff pastry.
    If you’re looking, it’s Pepperidge Farms. Here too is a list of some other not so always commonly known vegan items:

    http://www.peta.org/accidentallyVegan/VeganShoppingQS-Frozen.asp?Category=Refrigerated%20and%20Frozen%20Foods

  10. Did not know that. Thanks for the info and the link!

    Looking forward to trying your Cauliflower soup!

  11. just voted for you! i found out about your web-site today via flickr and am so excited to find you. thanks for an excellent site and resource, happy new year! :)

  12. YUMMMY THESE SOUND GREAT AND I CAN’T WAIT TO TRY THESE RECIPES!

  13. в конце концов: шикарно.
    (Finally, elegant.)
    Thank you. Happy Holidays.

  14. The Mushroom spinach pie taste Great! And so easy to make, thanks for the recipe!!!
    Merry X’mas!

  15. everything looks wonderful, but i hate to tell you this puff pastry is not a vegan item. to make the mushroom spinach pie recipe vegan you try using phyllo dough.
    This one actually is. In Canada, the Tenderflake brand is made with vegetable shortening. But this is a wonderful suggestion for those who can’t find a vegan puff pastry. I’m sure phyllo dough would be delicious and flaky!

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