Let’s face it – Christmas is a strain on the bank account.
We buy heaps of presents, food, drinks, clothes and travel hundreds of thousands of kilometres to be with the people we love on the day. Some of us do it up fancy with a three course meal and endless snacks throughout the day, and some people just like to keep it simple. Even if you’re not the Christmas-y type, we’ve got some great ways to make an amazing Christmas lunch that won’t be a massive strain on your bank account. Here are my top picks for affordable and simple Christmas lunch/dinner recipes:
Salmon Fish Cakes
Before you freak out at the word ‘salmon’, you can substitute this for tuna or anything else you’d prefer – depending on your budget. All you need is:
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g frozen peas (or fresh, if you’re a fancy pants)
½ a bunch of fresh chives (optional)
2 x 180g tins of salmon (optional)
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 large egg
Fill large saucepan with cold water and add a pinch of salt. Place on a high heat and bring to boil
Put your peas in a bowl and set aside
Peel your potatoes and chop them into 1cm chunks
Carefully add the potatoes to the boiling water, bring back to boil, then turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 10 minutes (or until cooked through), adding the peas in the last 2 minutes. Once cooked, drain and leave to cool.
Chop your chives finely and add to a mixing bowl. Then add your drained salmon/tuna. Grate lemon zest into bowl. Add your flour. Crack in the egg.
Once cool, mash the potatoes and peas well. Then add them to the mixing bowl and mix well.
Sprinkle flour onto a large plate. Divide mixture into 8 with your hands. Place into frying pan on medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook 3-4 minutes each side, or until golden. Voila! You can thank Jamie Oliver for that one.
Broccoli with Toasted Garlic and Hazelnuts
½ cup hazelnuts
2 bunches of broccoli
½ extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Heat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Spread hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally until fragrant. Chop roughly.
Fill a large saucepan with ½ inch of water and bring to a simmer. Place broccoli in, cover, and steam until tender. Transfer to plate.
In a small saucepan, cook the oil and garlic over low heat until the garlic is just golden. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in hazelnuts and lemon juice. Drizzle over broccoli. Season with salt and pepper.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pecans
900g Brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
Heat oven to 200° C. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the Brussels sprouts, pecans, oil, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Turn the Brussels sprouts cut-side down.
Roast until golden and tender, roughly 20-25 minutes.
Mexican Filled Omelette
Another fun and easy dish if you’re low on funds and/or time. Your ingredients are:
1 ripe avocado
15g fresh coriander
3 tablespoons natural yoghurt
1 small onion
½ white or green cabbage (or lettuce)
1 fresh chilli (optional)
8 large eggs
60g cheddar cheese (can use any cheese you have on hand)
Squeeze the avocado flesh into a blender, discarding the stone and skin. Squeeze in all the juice from 2 limes, rip in the coriander stalks, add the yoghurt and a splash of oil and whiz until smooth, then season to perfection.
Peel the onion and carrot. Ideally in a food processor, or using a box grater and good knife skills, grate the onion and carrot, then finely slice the cabbage. Very finely slice the chili by hand, then tip everything into a large bowl. Add most of the coriander leaves, then pour over the avocado dressing and toss together well. Taste and season to perfection again, if needed. Whisk all the eggs together in a bowl, with a splash of water to loosen and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Put a large non-stick frying pan on a medium-low heat. Once fairly hot, put in a tiny drizzle of oil followed by a quarter of the egg mixture. Swirl it all around the pan, grate over a quarter of the cheese and let it melt, then cook the omelette gently without colouring it, so it’s soft, silky and smooth, for just under 2 minutes, only cooking on one side. Slide it on to a plate, spoon over a quarter of the avocado slaw, then gently fold up the sides and roll over. Serve with a wedge of lime and a few extra coriander leaves. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, serving them up as you go.
Southern Pecan & Apple salad
50g light brown sugar
2 red or green apples
A few handfuls of mixed leaves, washed
Any zesty dressing or mustard and lemon juice mixed
Lightly rub a baking tray with some olive oil and put to one side. Put a large pan on a low heat and add your butter and sugar. Leave on a gentle simmer for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally to stop it catching, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture starts to darken. Gently stir in your pecans until they’re well coated in the caramel syrup. Be careful not to splash yourself, and don’t be tempted to have a taste because hot caramel can burn quite badly. Once coated, tip the nuts on to the oiled tray and use the back of a spoon to separate them out into one layer. Leave them to cool so the caramel can harden on the nuts.
Core, quarter and finely slice your apples and add to the bowl with all your leaves. Break the cooled pecans apart, add half of them to the bowl, and use your hands to delicately toss and dress everything. Serve on one big platter, or divide up between plates, and finish by crumbling over the rest of your beautiful caramel pecans.
Add a dash of your dressing and you’re done!
Spicy Kofta Kebabs
400g lean lamb mince
1 small bunch of fresh thyme (optional)
1 lemon, zest of
Ground black pepper
4 tortilla wraps
1 iceberg lettuce
4 tablespoons natural yoghurt
1 fresh chili, deseeded and finely chopped (optional)
Place all the kebab ingredients and the optional spices in a big bowl and mix well.
Divide the mixture into four equal pieces and get yourself 4 soaked skewers. With damp hands, shape the meat around and along each skewer, pressing little indents in the meat as you go, for a nice texture.
Grill the kebabs for 8-10 minutes until golden and cooked through, then push to the cool side of the barbecue and warm your tortillas next to them for 30 seconds.
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Transfer the tortillas to plates and top each with a little lettuce. Drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice, if liked. Slip the meat off the skewers and break it up. Spoon over a blob of yoghurt and drizzle over any resting juices. Sprinkle over some chopped chili for an extra kick and tuck in.
These are just a few of my favourites, but there are plenty more to be found all over the internet if you’re stuck for ideas. Definitely check out Jamie Oliver’s website for some simple but satisfying suggestions!