SOUTH AFRICAN APPROVED SIMPLE CHRISTMAS LUNCH MENU IDEAS

Since I was a little girl I always dreamt of a white Christmas. Not because I like the snow – it’s not bad, it’s just that I hate getting cold. I wanted a white Christmas because that is what you saw in the movies. Families huddled together around a tree, with the fireplace crackling in the background, drinking hot chocolate with little marshmallows in. Wearing those “ugly Christmas sweaters”. You see, I live in sunny and warm South Africa. Even in winter our temperatures seldom drop below 0C. And December in SA is HOT! From about mid-November, we are lucky to have a day where the maximum doesn’t hit the mid to high 30C, and most of the time we turn just below 40C. So our Christmases’ are sweltering hot. What upsets me the most about the whole temperature and lack of snow situation is that most South Africans want to serve the “traditional” Christmas lunch. I say “traditional” because it has never been a tradition here, it is something that people got from the movies. We do not serve stuffed turkey and glazed ham, with mashed potatoes etc. for Christmas lunch. And if you do, you shouldn’t. It’s hot! People want to have something that is lighter, more refreshing, and more South African. Seasonal, local, and fitting the climate. That is what a Christmas lunch should be. Add to that easy, effortless and quick and you have the beginnings of a winning menu. I am not saying that you shouldn’t eat turkey or ham, just that you shouldn’t blindly follow other countries or cultures’ traditions, make your own.

Our Christmas lunch usually centres around salads. For starters, we will usually have some sort of bread table, with lots of fresh breads, butter, preserves, cheeses, cold meat, fruit, and spreads or pates. Then for mains, we will do some sort of poultry, a braaied meat like leg of lamb, and maybe gammon – that is served cold. This is paired with interesting salads, and maybe roast potatoes. For dessert, you can play around as long as there is ice cream in some form. If you would like to move away from the “traditional” menu this year, here are some suggestions:

 For starters:

  1. Prawn and tomato bruschetta
  2. Smoked mackerel and trout pate parcels
  3. Brinjal and ricotta stack
  4. Smoked snoek pate
  5. Smoked salmon and avo stacks

For mains:

  1. Christmas gammon glazed with brandy and coke
  2. Whole leg of lamb on the braai
  3. Salmon with a cranberry and thyme crust
  4. Roasted Pork Belly Recipe With Cream Cheese Coleslaw
  5. Roast potatoes with biltong
  6. Peach, lime and chilli salad
  7. Fig, rocket and walnut salad
  8. Samon en crout
  9. Roasted turkey roulade
  10. Broccoli antipasti
  11. Onion and brie tarte tatin
  12. Rolled turkey breast with nectarine and pecan stuffing
  13. Sautéed Brussels sprouts with caramelised garlic, lemon & chilli
  14. Spicy slow roast leg of lamb
  15. Charred watermelon and marinated feta salad
  16. French beans with almonds and garlic
  17. Kale, Pomegranate & Caramelized Parsnip Salad

For dessert:

  1. Tower of ice cream with berries and meringues
  2. Pomegranate panna cotta
  3. Peach and pistachio pavlova
  4. Cape Brandy pudding
  5. Rooibos malva pudding
  6. Amarula malva pudding
  7. Quick Cassata
  8. Peppermint crisp tart
  9. Nectarine tart with thyme and honey butter drizzle

We like to keep it simple, with one starter (or a bread table), 2 meats, 2 salads and 1 side, and then followed with 1 dessert. What does your Christmas meal look like?