Holiday Cooking Tips and Shortcuts
Take some of the stress out of the holiday season with these cooking tips and techniques from the Real Simple food editors. You’ll save time, avoid kitchen mishaps, and serve delicious, beautiful food—and make it all look easy.
Tip #1: Assemble Salads in Advance
Try a salad that uses heartier greens — escarole and frisee, for example, won't wilt into a soggy mess. Or try this pro trick that doesn't require assembling a salad a la minute: Start by adding some dressing to the bottom of the salad bowl, then top with the heartiest ingredients that aren't prone to soaking up the dressing, like cucumbers and tomatoes. Layer the fragile ingredients on top, such as the lettuce or herbs, and top that layer with garnishes like cheese or croutons. The salad will keep for a few hours without wilting or soaking up any dressing; at the table, toss the salad and season it with salt and more dressing, as needed.
Tip #2: Cut Up Vegetables Before Cooking to Save on Time
Fall vegetables that are a mainstay at the holiday table — think winter squash or root vegetables — take a while to cook, especially when left whole. Whether a dish requires boiling or roasting, the smaller the vegetables are cut, the less time it will take for each piece to cook through.
Tip #3: Skip Vegetable Casseroles and Whip Up a Rich Sauce Instead
Top a cooked vegetable — boiled, roasted or grilled, as they all work — with a rich flavorful sauce, and do away with any elaborate or multistep prep previously required for decadent vegetable sides.
Tip #4: Skip the Roast and Grill Steaks Instead
Steaks require minimal cooking time compared to their whole-cut counterpart. Throw them on the grill for some extra depth of flavor, and elevate the meal to feast status by serving with a rich sauce.. .
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