Sure, the main dish may get all of the glory, but your holiday feast is only as good as its sidekicks. Here are 20 of our favourite festive side dishes to round out your special meals.
Stovetop space is often limited when preparing big meals, so avoid the crunch and make this classic creamy side in your slow cooker, instead! Bacon makes this dish extra-indulgent, but you can easily omit it if you prefer to keep it vegetarian.
The combination of a creamy potato filling and cheesy breadcrumb crust makes this recipe one of our favourites. Gruyère cheese is notoriously strong-smelling, but it mellows nicely as it melts.
While it may look similar to broccoli, rapini has a distinct and assertive taste that many find bitter. Here, we’ve tossed the green with a sweet and savoury dressing, sweet yellow beans and nutty toasted almonds for a perfectly balanced blend of flavours.
Roasting the garlic takes some time, but it’s well worth the reward. The tender, golden cloves give a deep caramelized flavour to the dish, which pairs nicely with the sweet and peppery turnips that are mixed into the mash.
Sweet potato casserole is a must on holiday tables in the United States, but the traditional marshmallow-topped side doesn’t always have the same appeal here in Canada. For our Canadian twist on this dish, we’ve swapped out the marshmallows for a crunchy pecan and brown sugar streusel that’s the perfect balance of sweet and savoury.
A mix of fresh and frozen peas gives this bright dish the best texture. If fresh sugar snaps aren’t available, simply double the frozen peas or substitute with broccoli or green beans, instead. The three-ingredient garlic butter is a great condiment to have on hand—simply toss with hot pasta or gnocchi and steamed veggies and you’ve got a meal in minutes!
This creamy dish is a cross between decadent creamed spinach and lighter slaw, making it a crowd-pleasing side to satisfy many palates. To make this vegetarian-friendly, simply use vegetable broth.
Toasted walnuts, tangy blue cheese and crisp kohlrabi converge in this simple autumn salad. A slightly spicy, creamy dressing is the perfect balance to the peppery arugula.
Adding Parmesan cheese to stuffing might seem unconventional, but it helps to keep this dish moist and gives it a nice crisp crust. Oyster mushrooms are an elegant addition, but you can easily use inexpensive cremini mushrooms if you prefer.
This rice-based dish is a great gluten-free alternative to traditional bread stuffing. Tossing sliced shallots with cornstarch before frying makes them extra-crispy, making for a delightfully crunchy topping.
Artichokes may seem intimidating, but they’re actually quite simple to prepare. To prep them, first cut off the sharp tips of the leaves, then slice off the top of the artichoke to remove the fuzzy centre. Simmering in water loosens the remaining tough leaves, making them a cinch to pull off. It’s best to do this work a day ahead so that all you have to do the day of the meal is make the topping and roast the artichokes until crispy. The show-stopping end result is well worth the effort.
Goat cheese lends extra creaminess and a hint of tangy flavour to classic garlicky mashed potatoes. Heating the drained potatoes for a minute cooks off any excess liquid, which yields the fluffiest mash.
The trick to giving this simple side dish a company-worthy look is all in the way you slice the carrots. Rather than cutting them in standard coins or sticks, we’ve sliced them on the diagonal to add a hint of drama to your holiday spread.
Delicate oyster mushrooms add easy elegance to this simple sautéed spinach dish, which takes only 20 minutes to make!
The secret to these crispy roasted potatoes is a dual cooking method—you simmer them first, then finish them off in the oven with goose, duck or beef fat. Look for the fat in the gourmet section of major supermarkets or in specialty markets, or simply reserve the drippings from cooking duck, goose or beef.
No holiday meal would be complete without a heaping dish of mashed potatoes, and this one, with its delicious blend of fluffy russets and colourful sweet potatoes, is sure to fit the bill.
Endive can be bitter when eaten raw, but roasting the leafy vegetable mellows the flavour and brings out its sweetness. An herbaceous and zesty dressing adds a welcome hit of freshness. Be sure to rinse the leeks well after halving them, as sand and grit can hide within its layers.
Flavour-packed capers are an effortless way to punch up the flavour of any side, and they work especially well with mild roasted cauliflower. If you find capers to be overly salty, simply give them a rinse before using.
Tender, sweet acorn squash and crisp bacon add extra appeal to Brussels sprouts. For even cooking, trim the thick bottom end of the sprouts, remove the outer leaves and halve them lengthwise so they’re about the same size as the squash cubes.
Spicy, aromatic infused oil adds unforgettable flavour to pepper (a.k.a. acorn) squash, especially when finished with a squeeze of lime juice. Make the oil up to five days ahead so you can prepare this dish in just 30 minutes.
If you're craving something different, big or small, Dr. Lorraine Bennington, a Vancouver registered psychologist, shares her top tips for taking the leap.
If you feel like there's something missing in your life, it's time to figure out what adjustments you can make to improve your situation. Revisit the things that made you happy as a child, which Dr. Bennington says are part of your "life blueprint," to direct your first steps. That could mean taking jewellery-making classes if you've always wanted to be a fashion designer, or returning to university if you've long wanted to be a lawyer.
Visualize your future
If the idea of change overwhelms you, imagine what your life will look like in five years if things remain the same, then visualize what it will be like if you take the plunge. "Usually, people will say it looks better with the change," says Dr. Bennington.
Don't listen to toxic people
If you've found that a particular parent, sibling or friend doesn't believe you can succeed (in a new job, with a new partner or as a single parent), it's time to stop expecting that person to miraculously offer support. "Don't share your ideas with someone who is likely to respond negatively every time," says Dr. Bennington. Instead, seek people who are "consistently genuine and supportive."
Rewrite your story
Even if a transition (like a divorce or a layoff) is out of your control, you can choose to see the situation through a positive lens. Maybe there's a part of you that was unhappy for years or secretly wanted freedom from a controlling husband or a nosy boss. "Reframe the change as something good, rather than as something awful that's happened to you," says Dr. Bennington.
©iStockphoto.com/annedala Credits: ©iStockphoto.com/annedala
Lemony Red Pepper and Asparagus Pasta Salad <br> Photography by Joe Kim Credits: Lemony Red Pepper and Asparagus Pasta Salad <br> Photography by Joe Kim
Planning a picnic or family barbecue anytime soon? Give yourself one less thing to worry about and go for one of our easy pasta salad recipes. It's sure to be a hit!
Pasta salads are great to make ahead, and are absolute tops for large groups. They also take the cake for being an extremely versatile dish – with a host of added ingredients, toppings and dressings, simple pasta salads can go from humble side to star entrée in no time.
We asked Test Kitchen food specialist Amanda Barnier to share some top tips for preparing pasta salads, and why they're a crowd favourite. Here's what she had to share:
Pasta salads: the perfect make-ahead dish
"Pasta salads can easily be prepped in advance and can feed a crowd with little effort," Amanda says. "It can be made in advance and cooled immediately after cooking."
One important tip to remember, she adds, is to "add dressing the day it's being served, because it will quickly absorb the dressing."
Pasta salad favourites
"I like using cheese filled tortellini for a hearty salad. Soba and rice noodles are great with Asian dressings, whole grain and coloured pastas," Amanda says.
How to store pasta salads
"Keep salads well wrapped and refrigerated," she says. "Salad has the same storage life as its ingredients. Seafood is best eaten within 2 days, and chicken (within) 2 to 3 days. If traveling, be sure to store pasta salads in coolers packed with lots of ice."
"Proteins should not be within 4 C and 60 C for longer than a four hour period," she adds.
The long and short of it: best pasta shapes
"Short shapes are best with vinaigrettes and creamy dressings, and chunky ingredients such as chopped vegetables and beans," Amanda says.
"Long pasta shapes are better used with thinly sliced vegetables, proteins, herbs, spices and vinaigrettes."
Tips for making pasta salad
"If making a pasta salad in advance, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and drain well," she advises. "Add dressing just prior to serving. Pasta quickly absorbs liquids; if the dressing is added too soon, the pasta will absorb it."
So whether you prefer chunky pasta salads with a cool, creamy dressing perfect for summer picnics, or entrée-worthy pasta salads with long rice noodles and a tangy vinaigrette, you're sure to find a new favourite with from our collection.
Easy pasta salad recipes:
Lemony Red Pepper and Asparagus Pasta Salad
A bright vinaigrette makes this pasta salad the ultimate dish to serve at any summer party.
Photography by Joe Kim
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
This salad highlights many fresh flavours of the Mediterranean and is at its best when made with good-quality olive oil.
Photography by Jeff Coulson
The Best Macaroni Salad
This is a great keeper salad and perfect for a picnic or BBQ. Just make sure you pack it with plenty of ice packs to keep it nice and cold, both during transportation and at the table.
Photography by Annabelle Waugh
Chicken, Broccoli and Bocconcini Pasta Salad
Make this pasta salad for the whole family—the kids will love the mild dressing and round bocconcini cheese, while the adults will appreciate it as a light alternative to a sandwich.
Photography by Jeff Coulson
More great pasta salad recipes:
Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad
This salad is simple to assemble for a quick family meal.
Warm Spinach and Ham Pasta Salad
Dressed with Dijon mustard and white wine vinegar, this penne pasta salad is a winner topped with goat cheese and cherry tomatoes.
Winter Vegetable Pasta Salad
Cook everything together in one pot for this easy warm salad.
Pea, Pepper and Pasta Salad
This make-ahead salad is perfect for toting to a potluck barbecue or picnic. Toss the salad with the dressing right before serving so the peas stay bright green.
Summer Pasta Salad
Serve this light summery salad with crispy, homemade Parmesan Breadsticks.
Mediterranean Fusilli Salad
Fresh basil, hearty beans, piquant sun-dried tomatoes and al dente pasta make the perfect summer salad.
Warm Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad
The dressing lends a taste of summer any time of year. The red peppers provide vitamins A and C and potassium. Quick and easy to make, this salad is perfect to take to a last-minute potluck or picnic.
Grilled Sausage, Pepper and Bocconcini Pasta Salad
This delicious pasta salad is made with tasty Italian sausage and lots of colourful peppers.
Bow-Tie Pasta Salad
This easy, colourful salad has the sunny fresh tastes of Greece.
Tuna Pasta Salad
Using tuna packed in both oil and broth means you'll need less oil in the dressing.
Salmon Pasta Salad
Start with melon wedges to whet your appetite for this quick and light dinner.
Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad
Grilled market-fresh veggies meet marinated olives and artichokes in this healthy dish made with whole wheat rotini. So chock full with taste and texture, carnivores won't complain about this vegetarian dish.
Party Parmesan Pasta Salad
Try this hearty salad studded with salami, olives, tiny tomatoes, roasted pepper and fresh basil.
Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad
This easy tasty pasta salad is loaded with calcium. Omit the banana peppers if your child is not a fan of hot food.
Deli Pasta Salad
Add 1-1/4 cups (300 mL) extra pasta to the pot at dinner the night before to have enough for this lunchtime salad the next day.
Sirloin Steak with Green Bean Pasta Salad
Sirloin steaks paired with green beans and tomatoes make this salad a hearty entrée.
Looking for more great recipes? Try our best potato salad recipes.