Maybe your brood celebrates Christmas; maybe they come home for Hanukkah.

Whatever your tradition, this dairy-free menu invites everyone to the table — including vegetarians — thanks to a medley of vibrant sides.

So polish your silver and pull up the extra chairs. This feast is a festivus for all of us.


WARM THEIR HEARTS: This succulent short-ribs platter embodies American cooking today: It melds flavors from cultures all around the world. Miso is the magical marinade. Rubbed all over the ribs, it adds salt, umami and a subtle fermented tanginess. Fennel, tomatoes and orange juice brighten the braise, while ginger offers a hint of heat. And the gravy’s a breeze: The sauce cooks down in the oven, so all you need to do is strain it, whisk in a mixture of broth and flour, bring to a boil and serve (no lengthy simmering). Garnish with sparkling pomegranate arils for a sweet and special finish.

English-cut short ribs are separated between the bones, yielding long, thick pieces. Flanken-cut ribs, aka “Korean-style,” are thinly sliced across the bone.


5 pounds English-cut bone-in short ribs

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2/3 cup white or yellow miso paste

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

12 ounces shallots (4 to 5), chopped (2 cups)

1 head fennel, bulb cored and chopped, fronds reserved for serving (optional)

2 celery stalks, chopped (1 cup)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger (from a 2-inch piece)

6 thyme sprigs

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons ground allspice

1 fresh bay leaf

2/3 cup dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc

1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes in juice

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more if needed

5 strips peeled orange zest (each 2 inches long), plus ½ cup fresh juice

2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

Pomegranate arils, for serving

Season ribs with salt and pepper. Rub miso all over ribs to evenly coat. Tightly wrap in butcher paper or plastic, transfer to a large resealable bag or container, and refrigerate at least 24 hours and up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature 1 hour before cooking.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Unwrap ribs; wipe off excess miso with a paper towel. Heat a wide pot over medium; swirl in 2 tablespoons oil. Working in two batches, brown ribs on meaty sides, about 5 minutes (if pot bottom darkens too quickly, wipe clean between batches). Transfer to a plate.

Swirl remaining 1 tablespoon oil into pot. Add shallots, fennel, celery, ginger and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables turn golden in places, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, allspice and bay leaf; cook 1 minute. Add wine; boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until mostly evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Return ribs and accumulated juices to pot, bone-sides down. Crush tomatoes into pieces with your hands or a masher; add to pot with tomato juices, 1½ cups broth, and orange zest and juice. If necessary, add more broth to just cover ribs. Bring to a simmer.

Cover pot; transfer to oven. Roast 2 hours; remove lid. Continue roasting, spooning liquid over ribs a few times, until meat is fork-tender, 1 to 1½ hours more.

Transfer ribs to a platter; loosely cover to keep warm. Strain braising liquid through a mesh sieve, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Spoon excess fat from liquid (or use a fat separator). Transfer liquid to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk together remaining ½ cup broth and flour until smooth. Slowly whisk into braising liquid. Boil, whisking constantly, until thickened slightly, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle ribs with fennel fronds and pomegranate arils; serve with gravy.

Active time: 40 minutes; total time: 4 hours, 25 minutes, plus marinating; makes 8 to 10 servings.

CREATE A SIDE SHOW: Like voices in a chorus, they’ll lend diverse flavors and textures that harmonize on your plate. Instead of the classic brown-sugar glaze, carrots and turnips are tossed in rice-vinegar dressing; a spoonful of apricot marmalade gets stirred in for sweetness. Kale-and-frisee salad is topped with celery, hazelnuts and fried capers for flavor-packed crunch. And mashed kabocha squash and cauliflower blend with coconut milk and minced ginger into a luscious, Asian-inflected alternative to mashed potatoes — all without cream or butter. Ha-lle-lujah.


¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons capers, drained and patted dry

½ cup chopped roasted hazelnuts

1 celery heart (pale center stalks and leaves), chopped (about 1 cup)

1½ teaspoons whole-grain or stone-ground mustard

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 head frisee, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)

1 small bunch lacinato kale, stems and center ribs removed, shredded (about 4 cups)

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a small skillet over medium-high. When it shimmers, add capers. Cook, stirring a few times, until they swell and darken slightly, 1½ to 2 minutes. Add hazelnuts; cook 1 minute more. Transfer mixture (with oil) to a small bowl. Let cool completely, then stir in celery.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together mustard and vinegar. Gradually whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Add frisee and kale, tossing to evenly coat; let stand at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour. Top with caper mixture; serve.

Active time: 20 minutes; total time: 1 hour; makes 8 to 10 servings.


1 pound baby carrots, peeled

1 pound baby turnips (preferably Japanese), peeled

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon apricot marmalade, warmed slightly

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves

Combine carrots and turnips in a small pot; add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil; generously season with salt. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until vegetables are tender but still holding their shape, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together vinegar and marmalade. Gradually whisk in oil; season with salt and pepper. Toss warm vegetables with dressing, stir in mint, season with salt and pepper and serve.

NOTE: If using large carrots, cut them on the bias into 2-inch-long pieces. If using larger turnips, halve or quarter them lengthwise, or slice them into 1½-inch-thick wedges.

Active time: 25 minutes; total time: 35 minutes; makes 8 to 10 servings.


2½ pounds kabocha squash (from 1 medium), halved, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch pieces

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 pounds cauliflower (from 1 medium), cored and cut into large florets

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (from a 1-inch piece)

2 teaspoons minced garlic (from 2 cloves)

¾ cup light coconut milk

Low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, or water, if needed

Cook squash in a large pot of simmering (not boiling) salted water 6 minutes. Add cauliflower; continue simmering until vegetables are very tender, 10 to 12 minutes more. Drain, then return vegetables to pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until vegetables appear dry and a film forms on bottom of pot, 3 to 4 minutes. Pass vegetables through a ricer, food mill or chinois strainer; cover to keep warm.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium. When it shimmers, add ginger and garlic; cook until fragrant and sizzling, about 30 seconds. Add coconut milk; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and stir into vegetable mixture until smooth. If mash is too stiff, add broth or water, a few tablespoons at a time. Season with salt and pepper; serve warm.

Active time: 40 minutes; total time: 1 hour; makes 8 to 10 servings.

THE BEST-LAID PLAN: This menu is almost entirely make-ahead: Do a few things in advance, and you’ll be home, free.

3 DAYS AHEAD: Marinate short ribs; cook vegetable mash and refrigerate.

2 DAYS AHEAD: Prepare salad dressing and refrigerate.

1 DAY AHEAD: Braise short ribs. Let cool and refrigerate.

DAY OF THE MEAL: Assemble salad and cook carrots and turnips. Reheat ribs and mash.

Questions or comments may be addressed to Ask Martha via email at Letters should include a name, address and daytime telephone number.

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