For many people in this country, both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are opportunities to have a big ol' feast. (If that doesn't describe you, may we recommend going out for Chinese.) We've put together some of our favorite, holiday-appropriate snacks, desserts, mains and sides, with enough options for entirely different dinners on the 24th and the 25th. Enjoy!
Roasted Almond Focaccia Bread with Grapes and Rosemary: This is great for passing around as guests arrive. You can substitute dried fruit in, if you like.
Spiced Fig and Walnut Roll: Make this the centerpiece of a fruit and nut plate!
New England Fish Chowder: Many people, especially those of southern European heritage, go pescetarian on Christmas Eve. This is a delicious and warming way to follow that tradition.
Poached Shrimp, Fennel, and Meyer Lemon Salad: Another seafood wonder! This salad is a great way to kick off a night of chowing down, even if you leave out the shrimp and go vegetarian with it.
Brussels Sprouts Salad: This salad is better as a side dish that a starter -- it adds a bright pop of Christmas green to a fully loaded plate.
Roasted Spiced Acorn Squash with Pomegranate: Another dish that's just as pretty as it is tasty, this squash is easy and quick to make, and the pomegranate arils look like tiny Christmas lights.
Sauteed Green Beans with Garlic and Herbs: This is a classic American holiday dish, and it's pretty basic. But hey, there's a reason it's a crowd-pleaser!
Frisée, Radicchio and Persimmon Salad with Dates and Walnuts: This salad is hearty enough to build a vegan plate around. And it uses a whole bunch of winter produce, which is always fun for us food nerds.
Coq au Riesling: Coq au vin is generally made with red wine, but this dish is the lesser-known, equally delicious white-wine variety. It tastes a bit lighter, and garnishes (think bright green herbs) really pop.
Roasted Salmon with Tangerine and Ginger Relish: Another fish option if you're taking inspiration from Italy, this one also incorporates tangerines, the most Christmas-y of fruits.
Miso-Braised Pork Shoulder: Californians have the culinary traditions of the entire world to choose from, so why not go for something inspired by Japanese ingredients? Mix it up a little!
Herbed Roast Beef: This hunk of beast is full-on classic Christmas. The secret? It's a cheaper cut of beef than most of the rest.
Chiles en Nogada: These chiles are delicious, can be made vegetarian (sub in firm tofu for the diced meat), and are red, green, and white. They're a traditional Mexican Christmas dish and they are fabulous.
Vegetable Lasagna with Burrata: Another option that just so happens to come in Christmas colors, this vegetarian lasagna is a little more elegant than your standard noodle casserole.
Orange Blossom Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Molasses: This is easier than it looks, and it looks stunningly elegant. Plus, once again -- Christmas colors!
Apple Clafoutis: Apples are in season right now, and they can be incorporated into this homey, warming dessert.
Bullock's Coconut Cream Pie: This dessert looks like a big fluffy snowball, but it tastes leagues better than a real snowball would. It's a bit of a show-stopper, which is the perfect way to end a meal.
Salted Cashew Cookies: After the table's been cleared, as full as everyone will claim to be, people like a little something to nosh on. Put out a plate of these cookies ...
Hot Chocolate, 18th Century California Style: ...And serve them with hot chocolate made from a circa-1796 recipe. You can give a little history lesson with it!