Pamela Salzman’s Light Holiday Side Dishes

The months of November and December are always the craziest. Between the dinner parties and shopping for gifts, it’s easy to let yourself give into the holiday food temptations. This is the time of year where we mindlessly eat and then regret it come January.

Let’s get real ... holidays don’t have to be fattening. There are ways to still eat delicious food but at half the calorie count. Whether you’re bringing a dish to a dinner party or hosting a meal of your own, here are some fresh and unique holiday recipes from the AH-mazing Pamela Salzman. They’re light and don’t take too much prep time. Oh, and they’re (mostly) guilt free.

Brussels Sprout Hash With Lemon And Capers


  • 3 tbsp. unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter (or just use more oil)
  • ¼ cup capers, well drained
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed, and shredded
  • Juice of 1 lemon, about 2 ½ Tablespoons
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • Preheat the oven to 350°. In a pie plate or baking sheet, toast the hazelnuts until the skins blister, about 15 minutes.
  • In a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the capers (be careful since they will probably splatter!) Sauté the capers for about one minute, or until they start opening like little flowerbuds.
  • Add the Brussels sprouts and hazelnuts to the pan and stir to coat with the oil and caper mixture. Pour in the lemon juice and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until the sprouts are tender but still a little crisp.
  • Remove from the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

TIP: you can also add some cooked, diced bacon and/or some fried sage leaves.


Endive Leaves With Roasted Grapes, Honey Goat Cheese, & Almonds


  • 3 firm, fresh heads of Belgian endive
  • 12-24 (depending on size) red seedless grapes
  • 1 tbsp. unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly group black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 pound of honey goat cheese
  • ½ cup toasted sliced almonds

Dressing Ingredients:

(or skip the dressing and use an aged balsamic and olive oil to drizzle)

  • 1 small shallot, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • ¾ tsp. fine grain sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. raw honey or 100% pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. unpasteurized apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • ¾ cup unrefined, cold pressed, extra-virgin olive oil


  • Cut ½ inch off the bottom (root end) of each head of endive. Separate the leaves and keep under a damp paper towel in the refrigerator until ready to use, up to 4 hours.
  • To roast grapes: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss grapes with remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil, arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast grapes until they have shriveled slightly, about 30 minutes.   Halve the grapes if they are large.
  • Make the dressing if using. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl or a glass jar with a lid. This will make too much dressing for the hors d’oeuvre. Use the rest in a salad.
  • Fill the white part (the base) of each endive leaf with a bite size crumble of goat cheese, a couple halved grapes and a pinch of chopped nuts. Drizzle with a touch of dressing if desired.

Farro With Kale & Roasted Pears


  • 3 firm, but ripe pears (about 1 ½ pounds), cored and cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • 3 tbsp. unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ pound nitrate-free turkey bacon
  • 2 cups uncooked faro (or rice, quinoa—whatever you have around last minute)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine (or chicken stock)
  • ¾ pound Tuscan kale, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped, about 8 cups
  • 3-4 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter


  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, gently toss the pears, 1 tbsp. oil, 1 tbsp. thyme, ¼ teaspoon sea salt and several grinds of black pepper. Spread the pears out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast, turning occasionally until golden brown and fragrant, about 25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
  • On a large parchment-lined baking sheet, arrange the turkey bacon slices in one layer. Bake until tops are crisp. Turn once and cook the other side until crisp, about 15 minutes total. Remove from oven and allow to sit until cool enough to handle. Chop coarsely.
  • Rinse the farro and place in a large pot with a pinch of sea salt and enough water to cover by at least 2 inches. Bring water to a boil and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well!
  • Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 Tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper and cook, stirring oven, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Carefully stir in the wine. Cook until most of the wine is absorbed, about 2 minutes, stirring often and scraping any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  • Stir in the kale and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the kale is just tender and still vibrant green, about 7 minutes. Stir halfway.
  • In a large serving bowl, combine farro with lemon juice and butter. Stir in the kale mixture and turkey bacon. Gently fold in the pears. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.

Need a yummy dessert for your holiday meal? Check out a recipe for Pamela’s double crust pie.

Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.