Fresh and delicious are the key words for Christmas fare.

I'm going to be at the beach on Christmas Day this year, so in the kitchen we'll be keeping things fresh and simple. These are three simple and delicious recipes to add to your Christmas Day repertoire - whether it's a relaxed lunch or a full Christmas dinner. They'll go with whichever meat you choose to serve:

• try a side of salmon, simply cooked in the oven with some herbs;
• a traditional ham, with a brown sugar and fresh orange glaze;
• a whole, fresh fish on the barbecue, if you're with people prone to fishing;
• slow-cooked lamb, which you can forget about while you prepare the rest.

I find side dishes like these keep the meal fresh and slightly lighter, which for me means more room for gorging on croissants at breakfast and leaves plenty of room for pudding.

Wherever you are, have a delicious and restful Christmas.


Roast yams with mustard & mint

1kg yams, washed
2 Tbsp neutral cooking oil
1 tsp flaky sea salt
1 Tbsp honey, softened
1 Tbsp mustard of your choice
Pinch chilli flakes
3 Tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped

Cut yams in half and place on an oven tray. Whisk together the cooking oil, sea salt, honey, mustard and chilli, then drizzle over the yams.

Roast in a 180C oven for about 25 minutes. Take them out of the oven and sprinkle with fresh mint. Serve immediately or serve warm.

Rice salad with sweet onions & herbs

Rice salad with sweet onions & herbs. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Rice salad with sweet onions & herbs. Photo / Jason Oxenham

g quinoa
200g red or black rice (note: I used Ceres Organics Quinoa-Rice blend)
2 cups salad greens (baby spinach or rocket work well)
Small bunch each fresh parsley, basil, mint, roughly chopped

For the sweet onions:
3 Tbsp neutral cooking oil
2 medium red onions
1 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar

Heat the cooking oil to a medium heat. Slice the onions and add to the pan, and cook for about five minutes, until soft. Add the salt, vinegar, and sugar, and increase the heat slightly. Continue cooking until vinegar is absorbed, and onions are cooked through. Set aside until ready to assemble.

For the nut-seed mix:
½ cup seed mix (I used sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, whole linseed/flaxseed)
½ cup nut mix (I used almonds, chopped)
Juice of half a lemon
1 Tbsp ras el hanout spice mix
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp cooking oil

In a bowl, place the seeds and nuts and add the lemon juice. Add the ras-el-hanout and cayenne, and toss to combine. Gently toast them in the oil in a medium-high frying pan until golden, stirring constantly, being careful not to let them burn. Set aside until ready.


For the dressing:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Sea salt and fresh pepper

Whisk all dressing ingredients together until emulsified. Taste and adjust as necessary.

To make the salad, cook the rice and quinoa (see packet instructions). Place in a large bowl.

Add the salad greens, soft onions, herbs, and seeds. Gently toss, then add the dressing. Garnish with extra herbs.

Chilli sesame greens

Chilli sesame greens. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Chilli sesame greens. Photo / Jason Oxenham

1 bunch asparagus
400g fresh green beans
1 bunch broccolini, cut lengthways (optional)
2 cups baby salad leaves (I used baby beetroot and baby silverbeet leaves)
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
3 Tbsp black sesame seeds

For the dressing:
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp neutral oil
Pinch chilli flakes
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce

Cut the asparagus and beans into 4-5cm lengths. Blanch, along with the broccolini, in boiling water for a minute, then under cold water.

Whisk all dressing ingredients together well. Taste and adjust as necessary.

Toss gently in a bowl with the veges, chilli, salad greens, and sesame seeds.