Level up your festive sides

Level up your festive sides

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No matter how stunning the centrepiece, a festive spread is nothing without an array of exciting side-dishes, each showcasing contrasting flavours and adding colour, variety and even a little surprise to the meal.

We love the classics; it's not Christmas with a bowl of crisp and golden duck fat potatoes, charry roast Brussels sprouts or vibrant red cabbage. But serving the same dishes year after year can get monotonous for both the diners and the cooks.

So how to keep things interesting while still giving your family and friends the familiar dishes they want? A few special ingredients, cleverly deployed, can take your sides hustle to a whole new level.

These are our favourite additions to classic Christmas side dishes, ensuring your feast is as celebratory as it is comforting.

- Stir a handful of dried cranberries and a splash of aged balsamic through your braised red cabbage, then top with dried barberries and vibrant, green pistachio slivers

- Roast Brussels sprouts with some diced speck, vacuum-packed French chestnuts and finely sliced garlic, and dress with vincotto before serving

- Season your roast duck fat potatoes with not only good quality fleur de sel, but with a splash of beer vinegar for a satisfying salt-and-vinegar kick

- Braise carrots in butter and Christmas Bush honey for a seasonally appropriate floral, caramel kick

- Roast parsnips in a splash of maple syrup and a spoonful of umami-rich miso

- Add a splash of apple glaze to your gravy for sweetness and that extra tang

- Stir a spoonful of horseradish into Yorkshire pudding mix for an earthy, spicy kick

 - A scattering of vibrant mustard fruits don't just look stunning, they add a complex savoury/sweetness to those thick slices of Christmas ham

- Splash a little blood orange agrumato over a tray of roasted vegetables for a citrussy, peppery kick

- Stud your stuffing with dried sour cherries before roasting, then drizzle with a few drops of black truffle oil as you serve

Visit your nearest The Essential Ingredient store all the way up until Christmas for all your festive supplies, or shop online, year-round, for quick delivery directly to your door (pre-Christmas delivery delays may apply).

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