Turnip, bacon and gruyere gratin

19 incredible festive side dishes from the UK's top chefs

by Great British Chefs 6 November 2019

This year, we think it's the side dishes that should shine on the Christmas dinner table, so we asked eleven of the UK's top chefs to share their recipes for incredible vegetable-based festive side dishes. Take a look and make this year's Christmas the best ever.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews as well as access to some of Britain’s greatest chefs. Our posts cover everything we are excited about from the latest openings and hottest food trends to brilliant new producers and exclusive chef interviews.

For any home cook, Christmas dinner is an occasion where you want to pull out all the stops, make sure everything is as delicious as it can be and impress everyone with your culinary skills. But what often happens is that you’re so concerned with the main event – be it a turkey, rib of beef or nut roast – that all the delicious trimmings fall by the wayside. A perfectly cooked turkey is all well and good, but if you’re pairing it with underdone spuds, boiled sprouts and burnt parsnips then those will be what the family remember.

We’re firm believers that the side dishes on a Christmas table can be just as popular and delicious (if not more so) than the centrepiece. Provided you treat the vegetables with the same care and attention as you would the main event, they can really sing – and we’ve collected an incredible array of recipes from some of the best chefs in the UK to help you put your festive menu together.

From easy purées that act as both a side dish and a sauce to familiar vegetables given a little contemporary twist (plus some fantastically unique dishes that are bound to impress), the recipes below will make this year’s Christmas dinner the best ever. Mix and match your favourites and you’ll be left with an incredible array of sides that will quickly steal the limelight. If you’re getting a bit bored of the same old dinner year after year, then give some of these recipes a go. They’ll get you right out of that festive rut and spread some Christmas cheer with a difference.

Purées, mashes and hashes

Caramelised celeriac mash with spiced walnuts

This silky-smooth bowl of celeriac blitzed with plenty of rich butter and milk is a wonderful addition to any roast dinner, but it really comes into its own when served with bold red meats such as venison and beef. The crunchy walnuts on top are baked in honey that's been infused with cinnamon and nutmeg for a truly festive flavour.

Roast pumpkin and chestnut purée

Pumpkins are still at the peak of their season during Christmas, and simply roasting the flesh before whizzing it up with crème fraîche, chestnuts and a little horseradish results in a fantastic little dish you can place on the dinner table that goes with pretty much anything.

Roasted garlic and swede hash

Take a swede, add plenty of butter and a whole bulb of roasted garlic, mash it all together and you've just turned this humble root veg into one of the tastiest side dishes you can have.

Carrot and brown butter purée

Carrots are a must-have at the festive dinner table, but they don't necessarily have to be whole. Whizzing them up into a purée and flavouring them with nutty brown butter means they act as a sort of sauce, with can be spooned onto plates with abandon.

Classics with a twist

Urfa chilli and garlic roast potatoes

Everyone has their own ways of cooking roast potatoes, but if you're after something a little different then try Anna Hansen's combination of urfa chilli flakes, onion seeds and roasted garlic. The chilli flakes aren't particularly hot; instead, they impart a sweet raisiny flavour to the spuds, gently spicing them to help them stand out.

Turmeric and curry leaf roast parsnips

Parsnips are a fantastic medium for other flavours, and giving them a South Indian vibe with mustard seeds, curry leaves and turmeric imparts them with a unique point of difference.

Cavolo nero with hazelnut pesto

This Italian-inspired dish combines simply cooked cavolo nero with a speedy pesto, made with hazelnuts instead of basil and pine nuts. The deep vegetal flavour of the leaves is heightened and seasoned with the dressing for a fantastic end result, and it only takes fifteen minutes to prepare.

Braised root vegetables

Jeremy Lee is the king of simply cooked but incredibly delicious British food, and this melange of swede, turnip, celeriac, parsnip, carrot, celery and onion with plenty of dill is a perfect example of his cooking.

Maple-roasted parsnips with vinegar

Many of us use honey to flavour our parsnips as they roast, but a few spoonfuls of maple syrup give them a particularly luxurious flavour. The generous splash of red wine vinegar lifts the flavour, providing a little sourness to counteract the sweet syrup.

Roast parsnips with bacon, olives and sprout leaves

It might sound a little odd at first, but the salt, briny, fruity flavour of green olives works surprisingly well with roast parsnips. A little sage adds plenty of festive flavour, while the crispy bacon lardons and sprout leaves bring everything together. If you're looking for a side dish recipe that'll really impress, this is the one to go for!

Charred sprouts with orange zest, chestnuts and pancetta

Long gone are the days of boiling sprouts until they're mushy and have filled the kitchen with some pretty unpleasant smells. Instead, try halving and charring them, before scattering pancetta, chestnuts and plenty of orange zest over the top for a cracking dish that's simple to put together.

Fried Brussels sprouts with lemon, sage and Parmesan crumb

If orange, pancetta and chestnuts don't appeal, then cover your charred sprouts with a flavourful lemon, sage and Parmesan crumb. The breadcrumbs add some much-welcome crunch to the dish, and can be used to scatter over all sorts of other vegetables too.

Something completely different

Koji-marinated celeriac

A simple roasted celeriac is tasty enough, but marinating the wedges in shio koji (spores used in Japanese fermenting) for a few days teases out all the flavour of this fantastic vegetable, seasoning it at the same time. Topped with chopped smoked almonds and three-cornered garlic leaves (although these can be substituted or left out if you can't find them), this is a deceptively simple dish which will wow the family at the dinner table.

Caramelised chicory with orange and star anise

The meaty leaves of bitter chicory are sweetened with orange juice before being topped with zest, crumbled blue cheese and walnuts. The star anise and Madeira in the braising liquid imparts a wonderful flavour onto this fantastically different side dish.

Warm artichoke heart with mushroom stuffing and hollandaise sauce

These fantastic artichokes could be served as a vegetarian main on their own, but preparing a few to bring to the table as a side dish will really impress. The artichoke hearts are stuffed with a simple combination of chopped mushrooms and onion, before being doused in an indulgent hollandaise sauce.

Jerusalem artichoke 'jacket potatoes'

Jerusalem artichokes are woefully under-appreciated in the UK, but this recipe proves just how tasty they can be. The skins are deep-fried for crunch, before the flesh is piped back in with garlic and Parmesan. They'd work equally well as a pre-dinner canapé.

Turnip, bacon and Gruyère gratin

The first of our two gratins champions the good old turnip – a seasonal vegetable that's often overlooked. Baked in a delicious Gruyère cheese sauce with pieces of salty bacon strewn throughout, this is a guaranteed crowdpleaser.

Truffled Jerusalem artichoke gratin

For a gratin with real indulgence, try Paul Welburn's stunning combination of Jerusalem artichokes, truffle oil and oozy Reblochon cheese. The Reblochon mellows out as it melts in the oven, covering the root vegetables in a irresistibly decadent sauce.

Jerusalem artichokes with raisins, pine nuts and apricots

Our final recipe featuring Jerusalem artichokes creates a combination of sweet and savoury thanks to toasted pine nuts, dried apricot and raisins. With nutmeg dusted over the top for festive spice and sherry vinegar for a tart finish, this is a dish no one will have had before yet contains all those wonderful Christmas flavours we love to indulge in on the big day.