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Easy Christmas Dinner Menu and Recipes

Come Party With Me: Christmas Dinner — Menu

I'm hosting Christmas dinner for the first time this year, and I want to serve a meal that is traditional but uncomplicated to make. To start, I'll offer my signature appetizer: shrimp. This time I'm salt-roasting them and pairing them with a lemon-pesto.

For the main course, I'm skipping the honey-baked ham and roasting a whole beef tenderloin. It's served alongside a roasted red pepper and black olive sauce. On the side? Fresh citrus and cranberry salad and a giant casserole dish of classic macaroni and cheese. Interested in these recipes? Keep reading!

Salt-Roasted Prawns With Lemon Pesto

Salt-Roasted Prawns With Lemon Pesto

Salt-Roasted Prawns With Lemon Pesto

Ingredients

For lemon pesto
1 lemon
1 1/2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup (1 ounce) freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
For prawns
About 3 cups rock salt
24 medium prawns or shrimp in shells

Directions

  1. To make the pesto: Grate the zest from the lemon and squeeze 2 tablespoons juice. Put the basil, cheese, olive oil, pine nuts, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor fitted with the metal blade; process until the mixture forms a smooth paste. (Pesto can be made ahead, transferred to a bowl, covered, and refrigerated for up to 1 day.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 550 degrees F. Spread the rock salt on the bottom of a 10-inch gratin dish or other shallow decorative ovenproof dish; the layer of salt should be about 3/4 inch thick. Place prawns in a single layer, on their sides, directly on the salt, pushing them down slightly to partially bury. Roast until prawns are pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the dish and let the prawns cool a few minutes.
  3. Place the pesto in a small heatproof bowl and nestle it in the center of the baking dish with the prawns and salt around it; serve immediately. (Or, if desired, remove the prawns, cut down the backs of the shells with sharp kitchen scissors, and peel off the shells to just above the tails. Serve the peeled shrimp on a platter with the pesto.)

Makes 24 shrimp.

Beef Tenderloin With Roasted Pepper and Black Olive Sauce

Beef Tenderloin With Roasted Pepper and Black Olive Sauce

Whole Roast Beef Tenderloin Recipe

Ingredients

2 (2 to 2 1/2 pound) center-cut pieces beef tenderloin – ask the butcher to give you 2 pieces for use in a Chateaubriand recipe
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Grill seasoning (recommended: Montreal Steak Seasoning for Steak by McCormick)
5 whole roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped, well drained and pat dry
2 cloves garlic, popped from skin
Handful flat-leaf parsley
1 cup good quality pitted black olives, from bulk bins, such as kalamata, drained well
Salt and pepper
Crusty bread, sliced

Directions

  1. Preheat oven as high as it goes, 500 degrees F.
  2. Liberally coat the meat with extra-virgin olive oil and grill seasoning. Place the meat on a roasting rack or in a roasting pan and place in oven. If you are cooking in a pan with no rack, add a splash of water to the pan.
  3. Roast the meat 10 minutes on high then reduce heat to 350 degrees F and cook 30 minutes more. Do not open oven during those first 10 minutes. Remove meat from oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.
  4. Place roasted peppers in food processor and add garlic, parsley, olives, salt and pepper. Turn the processor on and stream in extra-virgin olive oil, about 3 tablespoons.
  5. Thinly slice meat against grain and serve with crusty bread and sauce.

Serves 8.

Fresh Citrus and Cranberry Salad

Fresh Citrus and Cranberry Salad

Citrus and Cranberry Salad

Ingredients

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
4 oranges
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced (1 cup)
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped (1/3 cup)
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 5-oz. pkg. baby arugula
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 Tbsp. walnut oil or olive oil

Directions

  1. In food processor cover and pulse cranberries 5 times to coarsely chop (or coarsely chop by hand). Transfer to bowl.
  2. Cut peel from oranges. Section oranges over bowl to catch juice.
  3. Add sections and juice to cranberries. Stir in celery, onion, sugar, lemon juice, and ginger. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
  4. Toss arugula with mint and oil. Top with cranberry mixture.

Serves 8.

Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

5 tablespoons butter, plus more for the baking dish
1 pound elbow macaroni
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups whole milk
2 cups grated gruyere (8 ounces)
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar (6 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or some other shallow 3-quart baking dish.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
  3. Wipe out the past pot and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes (do not let it darken). Still stirring, slowly add the milk. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce slightly thickens, 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Add the gruyère, cheddar, cayenne, and 1½ teaspoon salt and cook just until the cheeses melt. Mix in the pasta. Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish and bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes.

Serves 6.

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