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With the festive season fast approaching, our LiveLighter® team have done a roundup of their favourite festive side and salad dishes. Some are quick to knock up, some are a little more involved, but they’re all packed with big flavour and seasonal produce.

Fast and flash

Poached pears

Poached pears look fancier than they are and, are great warm or cold. They’re a gorgeous dessert, or can be added to a cheese board. The basic recipe is grape juice + pears, but feel free to jazz it up with Christmassy spices – think cinnamon, cloves and ginger.

Lettuce boats

These lettuce boats are a showstopper, and super simple to make if you can get crab meat that’s already prepped – or swap for cooked prawns. Add tinned corn, avo, lemon and seasoning and you’re off! Highly recommend assembling these just before you serve them for maximum crunch.

Mexican-style street corn

If there’s a BBQ, for the love of mistletoe, throw some corn on it. The sweetness and savouriness of the lightly charred corn is so delicious with a few extra pops of flavour from the lime, chilli and cheese.

Pea smash

This may look like breakfast, but the pea smash does amazing double duty as a quick 5 ingredient dip.  Serve with vegie sticks and fancy crackers for a colourful addition to the nibblies table.

Zucchini “carpaccio”

I never miss an opportunity to spruik this zucchini recipe! It’s prime zucchini season, and they’re cheap and delicious at the moment. Simply thinly slice, marinate in a vinaigrette and serve with a scattering of almonds and fresh herbs.

Tasty bites

Homemade crackers and crisps

Elevate your cheese board game with homemade crackers and crisps. You’re so fancy! There are several flavour options for the crackers (Parmesan, fig and ginger, apricot… or create your own!) and they make a great gift!

Spanakopita-style spinach pie

Our spanakopita-style spinach pie is one of our favourite new recipes! The filling is quite firm, so the pie-style would hold up ok if cut into small pieces. But if you’ve got time to go the extra mile, little individual triangles are very delicious (and freeze perfectly). We’ve got an explanation (with pictures!) of the folding technique on our samosa recipe.

Fragrant chicken meatballs

These fragrant chicken meatballs are baked in the oven (no standing by the frypan required!) and freeze really well. We definitely recommend making a double batch and freezing them until required to make you look like a kitchen wizard.

Crispy wonton cups

Did you know you could make your own crispy pastry cases in 10 minutes? Spray a muffin tray with oil, press wonton wrappers into the pan holes to form a cup shape, then bake. We’ve got a bunch of filling suggestions, like caprese, mushroom and thyme, Thai chicken, summer mango salsa or even a sweet strawberry. But the only limit is your imagination! For best results, prepare cases and filling separately, and fill just before serving to keep it crispy.

Big bold salads

Walnut and lentil salad

This walnut and lentil salad is one of

the office favourites – it’s hearty enough to be a meal in its own right and is also a lovely side for roast chicken or pork loin. I definitely recommend the DIY salad dressing over shop-bought if you have time!

Pesto pasta salad

This low effort, high impact pesto pasta salad has 5 ingredients, and the hardest part is boiling the water. Feel free to put your own spin(ach) on it! Hot tip: use chunky basil or rocket dip (or homemade pesto) for a brighter basil-ier flavour.

Rainbow rice salad

If you don’t have a rice salad in your BBQ recipes arsenal, we recommend this one! There are loads of colours and textures and the dressing is soooo good. Make a double batch of the dressing and keep in the fridge for up to a week (or more if you swap lemon juice for vinegar).

Roasted cauliflower

Another hearty banger of a salad! Sweet roasted cauliflower and the zesty yoghurt dressing will keep guests coming back for more. Feel free to mix and match the ingredients to make do with what’s in the cupboard! Swap lentils for chickpeas, barley for quinoa or brown rice, currants for cranberries (or pomegranate seeds for a festive pop of colour!).

Delightful drinks

Iced tea

The rosemary adds flavour AND gives a festive vibe to this iced tea. If you’re feeling extra fancy, garnish with fresh peaches (in season this time of year).

Ski slopes

If you’re hankering for some wintery drinks, this brew has a lovely mix of spices. It is excellent served hot or cold, so it’s ready for all weathers!

Poolside Percy

The Poolside Percy has bright, grown-up flavours that are perfectly refreshing and go well with a book in the shade. Include a dish of optional garnishes like cucumber slices, mint leaves, strawberries and grapefruit slices for a sophisticated no-alcohol party drink option.

We hope you find a fresh spin on an old favourite or explore something different! If you’re looking for something sweet, we devoted a whole post to it!  What’s your favourite dish to bring to a party?