Four Great Dishes to Lift Your Winter Spirits

Now that we're past the winter solstice, it's time to give some of those cold weather dishes a summery twist.

Credit: Michael Robertson

Call ’em aubergines or eggplants, they’re delicious roasted with olive oil

About three weeks into winter I was already sick of root vegetables and needed a lift…


This year, in an attempt to relieve my mother-in-law of the burden of cooking through the Christmas break for all her children, grandchildren and in-laws we divvied up the holiday cooking between her progeny and their partners (the partners did the lion share).


Christi, her younger sister and I took the December 25 shift and tried to create a turkey table with a twist. We didn’t dare mess with the turkey (although we did roast it breast down for the first three hours so the juices ran into the breast) and our rosemary sweet potatoes also appeased the traditionalists.


Here are the four of the side dishes we created; I’m sure we’ll be seeing them again before spring rears its head. (These proportions fed nine adults and three children.)

Non-traditional holiday side dishes worth making all winter long



Warm leek, blue cheese and grape salad


4 leeks

1 wedge of blue cheese (~300 g)

large bunch of red grapes


Cut the green leaves off the leeks.* Cut the white of the leeks in half lengthwise and rinse. Slice the leeks into quarter-inch widths. Pan-fry in a generous pat of butter. Meanwhile cut the grapes in half. When the leeks are soft, toss them in a bowl with the grapes and the crumbled blue cheese. Serve.


Roasted aubergine (aka eggplant)


3 medium aubergines/eggplants

olive oil (lots of it)


Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut the aubergine in half lengthwise. Taking care not to cut through the skin, cut intersecting diagonal lines deeply to divide the aubergine flesh into diamonds. Sprinkle with salt and leave for 15 minutes. Generously drizzle olive oil along the cut lines and brush the surface liberally. Bake the aubergine cut-face-down on a greased oven tray. They are finished when the cut face is nicely browned and the flesh is easily pierced with a toothpick. Serve hot.


Roasted carrot and orange salad


1 1/2 lbs of carrots

4 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cumin

salt to taste

4 oranges

1 1/2 tsp sugar

1/4 cup mint leaves


Peel* and cut the carrots into sticks (or inch-thick rings) and combine in a bowl with the spices and a quarter of the oil. Roast until the carrots are al dente. For the dressing, combine the rest of the oil, sugar and the juice of 1 orange. When the carrots are cooked, combine with the dressing and 3 oranges sliced thinly in rings, and finely sliced mint. Serve warm or cold.


Quinoa salad


1 cup quinoa

2 cups chicken stock

3 tbsp currants

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

1 tbsp marjoram

6 sage leaves

2 tbsp parsley

2 tbsp pine nuts

salt and pepper to taste


Rinse the quinoa, then boil it in the stock. Add the currants and reduce to a simmer until the stock is absorbed. Pan-fry the diced onion and add it to the finished quinoa along with all the remaining ingredients. This works well as a gluten-free stuffing or as a side dish.


* All the leek tops, carrot peelings and turkey bones made for a delicious Boxing Day soup.