If you're looking for something different to serve for Christmas dinner, we've got you covered. We've put together a mouthwatering vegan Italian menu that your entire family will love, and we'll also show you how to set a simple, yet beautiful, holiday table.
DECORATING THE TABLE FOR THE HOLIDAYS IS ALMOST AS IMPORTANT AS THE FOOD
We love to decorate almost as much as we love to cook. Setting a beautiful table sets a mood, makes the food taste even better, and it makes those sitting at the table feel all the more special.
When it comes to the holidays, we go all out. Like I said, Alex and I love to decorate, and our holiday table is not overlooked. Did you see our Thanksgiving table?
This year we decided to go with a simple, yet elegant theme. We are using fresh greens mixed with metals, such as silver & gold. Candles are also a big part of our table, as the glow from the flame makes the metallic elements shimmer.
HOW TO SET A BEAUTIFUL HOLIDAY TABLE
START WITH A THEME
Last year we used our Christmas tree china, so the table was filled with green and red ornaments, red berries and greens, and a few Santa figurines. This year we are going more minimalist and natural.
The plates we're using are white with a silver snowflake rim and a large silver snowflake in the center. We love mixing metals, so we're setting them on a gold filigree place mat, and we're using our gold flatware and white and gold snowflake napkins.
We're putting fresh pine branches in the center with pretty gold Christmas votive candles. Simplicity at it's best.
Oh, and don't forget the wine glasses. The glasses on our table are the crystal gold rimmed glasses that my husband and I registered for when we got married, nearly 30 years ago! If we had the fun stemless glasses that you see below, they would have been on our table. LOVE!
Click the photos above to shop our table.
ITALIAN FOOD FOR CHRISTMAS!
Alex has become quite vocal in regards to what we eat for our holiday dinners. She loves traditions, and she also likes to switch things up to prevent life from getting too stale.
For example, since Alex and her brother were toddlers, they got to open one gift on Christmas Eve. Pajamas!
That tradition has carried on for over two decades, and when she and her little bro were old enough to drive and make their own money, they surprised me and the Breakfast King with pajamas. Last year we even gave our dogs little pjs. This is a tradition that will never go away.
Additionally, we always have a nice dinner on Christmas Eve, and then we stay in our new pajamas until late in the afternoon on Christmas Day and make a casual dinner, just in case we decide to never get dressed.
The tradition of a fancier Christmas Eve dinner will most likely always be kept, but what we eat can change from year to year.
This year we've (Alex) decided on Italian food. Yum!
WHAT DOES A TRADITIONAL ITALIAN CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER LOOK LIKE?
An authentic, non-vegan, Christmas Eve dinner will have lots of fish and meat. Additionally, they serve pasta, lasagna, soup, and vegetables.
Our version of an Italian themed dinner is a little bit different, but still incredibly delicious.
Italian Rosemary Lemon Barley Soup
Roasted Butternut Squash and Ricotta Pizza
Roasted Radishes with Balsamic Glaze
Homemade Gnocchi with Pesto
Chocolate Chocolate Chip & Pecan Biscotti
For our Italian Christmas theme, we're starting with one of our favorite appetizers, a caprese salad.
Thanks to Miyoko's, we can make the most authentic caprese salad. Her vegan mozz is amazing, and this salad couldn't be easier to make. Just slice a large tomato, stuff some mozzarella slices and basil leaves between each slice, and then drizzle some balsamic glaze over the top. We also sprinkled some freshly ground pepper and grated parmesan cheese from Violife (it's crazy good!).
This soup is so delicious!!! The lemon and rosemary take it to another level in flavor, and the barley and chickpeas add a wonderful texture.
Disclaimer, we made the soup and all of the food in this post so we could photograph the Christmas table, and we forgot to add the tomato to the soup. It's even prettier when it has a little red in it. 😉
Some people say that pizza did not originate in Italy, and others disagree. We're going with those who say that pizza is Italian.
We made our incredible Butternut Squash and Almond Ricotta Pizza (inspired by the one we love from True Food Kitchen).
This pizza has a crispy crust, savory and sweet squash, the most perfect vegan ricotta from Kite Hill, or you can make ours. We were in a time crunch and opted to use store bought this time.
We roasted radishes and asparagus for simple and elegant sides. It couldn't be easier to make these. All you need to do is drizzle a little oil on them, grind some sea salt and black pepper to taste, and roast until they're slightly caramelized and tender.
The asparagus recipe that we linked to will show you how to roast them, and if you make extra, we suggest making the bruschetta, too.
Don't let the idea of making gnocchi from scratch scare you, it's easy! And nothing tastes as good as homemade. Am I right?
All you'll need to make our homemade vegan gnocchi is a few russet potatoes, flour, egg replacer, and salt. Boil the potatoes, rice them, and then knead the ingredients together. Simple!
The pesto is also homemade and easy to make.
This is a fun recipe to get the family involved in. What could be better than cooking together for Christmas?
BISCOTTI FOR DESSERT
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Biscotti with Pecans
These Italian cookies are AMAZING!
We're sharing the recipe this week, so make sure to check your email. If you're not subscribed to our blog, make sure to give us your email so you don't miss our recipes. Also, check our Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti recipe below.
PREPPING FOR YOUR HOLIDAY DINNER
For this meal, you can work backwards.
Make the biscotti up to a month ahead of time. They freeze well, so just bring them to room temperature a few hours before serving.
Make the gnocchi up to a week ahead of time. You can freeze them so they stay fresh and take them from the freezer to the boiling water and cook until they float.
You can make the pesto up to three days ahead of time. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Make the soup up to two days ahead of time. You can also prepare the pizza crust up to two days ahead of time. Store in plastic wrap in the refrigerator until the day you're going to serve the pizza.
THE NIGHT BEFORE.
Prep the butternut squash, asparagus, and the radishes and store in a tub of water in the refrigerator. Drain and pat dry before roasting.
You can also make the ricotta and store in the refrigerator.
THE DAY OF...
Prepare the pizza in the morning and store in the refrigerator until you're ready to bake it. Remember, you have to roast the squash before baking the pizza, so no need to put the squash on the pizza (unless it's already roasted) quite yet.
Take the cookies out of the freezer if applicable.
A few hours before dinner, prep the caprese salad (don't drizzle the balsamic vinegar on until just before serving) and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Roast the vegetables first, then bake the pizza and put the asparagus and radishes back in the warm oven with the pizza so they're hot when you serve them. Reduce the oven temperature to 250F and cover the food with foil to prevent them from drying out.
Heat the soup while the pizza is baking. It's also time to bring the water for the gnocchi to a boil.
Serve the caprese salad.
Serve the soup.
Pour another glass of wine and make the gnocchi. This will only take a few minutes.
Serve the gnocchi, pizza, and vegetables.
OTHER ITALIAN CHRISTMAS FOODS
Of course, you should always make your meals your own. Here are a few more Italian options from the blog that we love.
DECORATING AND HOSTING A PARTY IS ALL ABOUT THE DETAILS
It's the little things that mean so much.
All of the little details that you add to the table, to a room, and to your food, take the ordinary to extraordinary.
You don't have to spend a lot of money to make it look like you did. Here are some of our tips to help you make your home look festive this holiday season.
INEXPENSIVE TIPS TO DECORATE YOUR HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
USE FRESH GREENS AND TWIGS FROM YOUR YARD
If you have red dogwood, pine trees, hydrangea, or birch trees, do some trimming in the fall and keep the twigs, branches, and flowers to decorate for the holidays.
BUY ON SALE AT THE END OF THIS SEASON FOR NEXT YEAR
We always take advantage of the end of season sales. Many stores and websites will slash their decorations by 50% or more. We take pictures of our new purchases so we remember what we bought and can plan our holiday decor accordingly.
RECYCLE OLD DECORATIONS
We use our decorations in different ways and places every year. For example, the Santa face on our fireplace above was on our front door last year. We also save money by saving our ribbon and using it to decorate the fireplace mantels and trees.
HOW TO SET A HOLIDAY TABLE
Choose a theme
Do you like old fashioned Christmas decorations, modern, kid friendly? Go with what you know and love.
Choose a Color
Last year we went with red and green. This year we like silver and gold with touches of natural elements, like fresh greens and wood.
Create a Centerpiece for the Table
Last year we ate dinner in our dining room. It has a long table and we decorated it with a long row of mixed greens, red and green ornaments, a few Santa figurines, and reindeer. I've redecorated my home since I shared this home tour, but you can see the difference in the tables that we ate at last year and where we're eating this year.
This year we're opting for a more intimate space. We ate Thanksgiving dinner in our library and loved it so much that we're dining there again for Christmas.
The round table calls for a simple centerpiece. We cut some pine branches from a tree in our yard and added some pretty votives.
We suggest keeping the centerpiece lower so you can actually see the lovely faces of your guests.
Layers Go a Long Way
Start with a place mat that goes with the theme, then add a charger (we decided not to for this setting), a dinner plate, a salad plate (if applicable), and a soup bowl (if applicable). This adds interest to the setting.
Add a pretty cloth napkin. You can place on top of the plate, under it with the tail hanging over the edge of the table, or to the side. You can use a napkin ring, or you can fold it like we did and tuck the flat wear inside with a sprig of rosemary or a small piece of pine.
Yes, we broke the rule of placing the knife to the right of the plate for this table setting. 😉
We hope this helps with your holiday meal planning and table setting. This time of year can be so stressful, so anything that we can do to help make your lives easier makes us happy.
Enjoy this magical time of the year, and always feel free to reach out if you have questions or requests.
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