A holiday feast for tender stomachs
December 30, 2017 6:33 AM   Subscribe

My family's New Year's Eve tradition is to make a very fancy dinner at home. After a Christmas with the stomach flu, we're not feeling up to the rich, heavy menu we had planned. What can we make that is light but still festive?

Our plans had been something like braised lamb, roasted brussels sprouts and chocolate mousse, for two adults and a young child. We (the adults) are not up for that after all, but still want to have a meal that feels celebratory - not plain, but not quite so intense. What would you make?
posted by sputzie to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think you can make some really good, nourishing, but simple foods and serve them on fancy plates or with a nice table setting, maybe fresh branches or leaves, maybe candles or some other table adornment, and there's your holiday festiveness.

Here are some ideas that I enjoy (a lot) when my tummy isn't doing well:
  • Bulgur wheat salad with fresh parsley and a little lemon
  • Homemade maki sushi with brightly colored vegetable filling (maybe avocado roll and pimento roll, but cucumber is great for a delicate tummy), arranged to make a wreath or other shape. Suitably labor intensive but soooo good.
  • Homemade tomato-vegetable-lentil soup (can be made colorful, really good for you, lots of wonderful leftovers, and if an ingredient sounds bad you can just leave it out), served in _fancy bowls_
  • Homemade or excellent crusty bread with cultured butter.
  • light green salad with butter lettuce (the most delicate), cucumber, tiny tomatoes, etc.
  • Dessert: poached pears, sorbet, fruit salad (red and green again), or angel food cake

posted by amtho at 6:49 AM on December 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

I’d get a good baguette and some nice butter, maybe some hard salami if you’re up to it, a cheese and crackers plate, set out some grapes and berries, sliced veggies and dip, and call it good. Use nice platters, arrange everything in a fancy way, and use a tablecloth and light candles. Drink sparkling lemonade or sparkling grape juice with a couple raspberries and a mint leaf in the glass.

I have morning sickness and this is about what I can handle right now. *urp*
posted by castlebravo at 6:55 AM on December 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

This calls for German Wedding Soup.
posted by The Toad at 7:03 AM on December 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

I would make roasted potatoes in olive oil with salt, garlic, rosemary and thyme, baked apples with cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar, rice or quinoa with butter and the seasonings of your choice, maybe roasted chicken drumsticks or a hearty chicken soup, instead of the lamb, and add some nice crusty rolls or bread with high quality butter.
posted by BlueJae at 7:21 AM on December 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Roast chicken. It's really easy and comforting, and you could even pick up a rotisserie chicken. Buy some gravy, ready-made mashed potatoes, and some kind of vegetable. I'd get frozen mashed squash and have it with plenty of butter, but whatever you will enjoy. Stouffers spinach souffle takes forever, but is great comfort food. Cranberry jelly from a can makes it more festive. Sparkling grape juice because you might not be ready for alcohol, or for the kids. I had the flu a month ago, and mashed potatoes and gravy was absolutely the best comfort food. Mrs. Smiths bake-at-home apple pie is pretty decent. Maybe some Italian ice and other sorbets.
posted by theora55 at 7:32 AM on December 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'd go with a soup + salad + fresh-baked bread model here. It'll feel festive if each of those elements is a little extra special.

Soup possibilities: Lentil soup with lamb might be a nice, lighter version of what you were going to make. This lentil soup with sausage and chard is my absolute favorite; I usually sub in ground lamb for the sausage and kale for the chard. Or, if you're still feeling a bit sick, then make your very best chicken soup with from-scratch stock and all your favorite ingredients.

Salad possibilities: for this, I'd probably go find the best local seasonal ingredients I could (pretty colored radishes, rainbow carrots, baby kale, etc.), chop them attractively, add some pepitas and dried cranberries, and make a dressing fresh (lemon-tahini dressing would be a great match for either of those lentil soups). You could also make one of my favorite special occasion winter salads, this fennel, orange, and olive salad.

Bread possibilities: make a loaf or two of no-knead bread -- it's easy and delicious and it will make your house smell like happiness. Or you could do dinner rolls.

Dessert possibilities: if you want a dessert at all, go with something fruit-based. Poached pears and sorbet are both good ideas. If you feel up to it, this apple galette is about as light as a pie can get, and it's absolutely beautiful if you arrange the apples in concentric circles -- it looks like a giant chrysanthemum.
posted by ourobouros at 7:33 AM on December 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

Potato leek soup? With bread and a salad if you're up for it.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:05 AM on December 30, 2017

What about a really beautiful piece of fish? Maybe baked, with a little butter and some lemon juice. Salad of shaved fennel and citrus. Fancy sparkling water to drink?
posted by bluebird at 8:17 AM on December 30, 2017

What about a broth-based fondue and some really good toasted bread? You can add a little white wine or lemon juice to chicken broth or red wine or sherry to beef. Throw in a handful of minced garlic and some herbs and it's tasty and good for you.

I'd probably serve that with lightly steamed broccoli and roasted potatoes, and a very light dessert. If you want to continue the fondue trend, you could make a caramel sauce with sliced apples or a chocolate sauce with oranges or strawberries (the first option is probably more digestible.) Or just slice some oranges very thin, sprinkle with brown sugar (I like the dark kind), dot with a bit of butter and run them under the broiler for a few minutes, until the top gets crackly and gooey.
posted by dancing_angel at 10:31 AM on December 30, 2017

I’d go with a cheese soufflé and a salad of shaved fennel, oranges, and pomegranate jewels, followed by a soothing dessert like homemade butterscotch pudding.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:42 AM on December 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think festivity has more to do with presentation that with the menu.

You can go with our (my wife and myself) Christmas dinner: Roast chicken, stuffing, green beans. Petit-Fours for dessert. Have a nice centerpiece, use the good china, and include a festive beverage, maybe sparking grape juice.
posted by SemiSalt at 10:43 AM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

For us roasted Cornish game hens feel fancy when really it's basically just chicken.

We've been dealing with that same bug this week and for the day or two after each person hasn't wanted more than some fruit or salad or an easy vegetable soup. So for your dinner maybe a nice fruit salad, or maybe an easy fruit tart or pie for dessert.
posted by vignettist at 7:08 PM on December 30, 2017

Pavlova for dessert maybe?
posted by en forme de poire at 8:04 AM on December 31, 2017

Thanks for all the suggestions. We ended up making roast chicken, a half batch of Parker House rolls (thanks to the kid looking over my shoulder while I was checking out ourobourous' links,) and a simple cucumber salad. A nice real meal for everyone after a week of sick person food, plus a pan of cinnamon buns from the rest of the roll dough for breakfast on New Year's Day.
posted by sputzie at 4:27 PM on January 2, 2018

« Older Tell me about portable wifi hotspots   |   It was awful - and then? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.