Unconventional and Enticing Holiday Menus

In the spirit of making lemonade out of lemons: Consider breaking with some traditions when it comes to holiday menus this year. Smaller gatherings and unconventional celebrations call for kitchen creativity—and you can embrace it by making whatever you want. Intimate seafood feast for two? Absolutely. Skipping the roast and going all in on sides? Sure, why not. Sitting down to a party-worthy spread of apps, hold the party? Thought you’d never ask.

SEAFOOD FEAST

Cooking seafood for a crowd can be intimidating—good-quality fish tends to be expensive and cook times are often unforgiving. If you’ve got a small gathering, however, seafood can be a great option, even if you’re new to it. Take advantage of your low-key holiday and try one of these stellar celebratory dishes.

  • Cioppino

    Cioppino

    Cioppino is a classic San Francisco fish stew made with tomatoes, fennel, oregano, white wine, and a mix of seafood commonly found in the Pacific Ocean, such as Dungeness crab, mussels, halibut, shrimp, and clams. We simplified with just halibut, clams, and shrimp in this version, but use whatever mix you like. We think it makes the perfect winter one-pot meal.

    GET RECIPE

  • Lobster Potpie

    Lobster Potpie

    Everybody needs a little indulgence once in a while, and this one is totally worth it. You can freeze these (unbaked) and have them ready and waiting for a cozy night.

    GET RECIPE

  • Whole Roasted Branzino with Castelvetrano Olive Relish
  • Miso Clams

    Miso Clams

    A seven-ingredient dish that’s easy enough for a weeknight dinner at home but impressive enough for a special occasion. Since the miso is salty, be sure you use the smallest, sweetest clams you can find and clean them really well.

    GET RECIPE

  • Shrimp Scampi

    Shrimp Scampi

    This delicious scampi is a favorite speedy dinner. Be sure to serve it with crusty bread to soak up all of the flavorful sauce.

    GET RECIPE

  • Slow-Roasted Mustardy Salmon

    Slow-Roasted Mustardy Salmon

    Here is a foolproof recipe: The tray of water ensures that the salmon stays tender and won’t dry out. This method could be used with any marinade you like, though we’re partial to the herb-and-mustard blend.

    GET RECIPE

HORS D’OEUVRES ONLY

If you’re sad to be missing the holiday party circuit—and all the dips, charcuterie, and canapés it promises—know that you’re not alone. In the meantime, might we suggest serving only appetizers? This micro-party menu is super fun, can be largely made ahead, and feels festive.

  • Crab Salad in Endive

    Crab Salad in Endive

    Crab is pricey, but a little goes a long way here, and the endive leaves look so elegant. Put together the crab salad in the morning, so all you have to do is plate and garnish before serving.

    GET RECIPE

  • Beet-Pickled Deviled Eggs
  • Smoked Trout Butter

    Smoked Trout Butter

    This smoky, salty, briny condiment can be spread onto sourdough baguette, swiped onto a cracker with hot peppers, or schmeared onto a bagel with red onion and capers.

    GET RECIPE

  • Bulgogi Chicken Lettuce Cups

    Bulgogi Chicken Lettuce Cups

    Bulgogi is a famous (and seriously delicious) Korean marinade made with soy, ginger, garlic, and usually brown sugar. Here we seasoned mini chicken meatballs with all of those flavors and served them in bite-size lettuce cups for a spin on Korean BBQ.

    GET RECIPE

  • Arancini
  • Parmesan and Thyme Cheese Straws

ALL THINGS À LA CART

Here’s a big tradition you might enjoy breaking: main dishes. Why fuss over a big roast when everyone loves the sides? Our favorites hold their own without a typical protein at the center of your table.