Alternative to smoked salmon at Christmas

We’re hosting Christmas this year, and normally in our family we start the dinner with some kind of smoked salmon accompanied by a delicious white. However my wife doesn’t like any fish or seafood (bar calamari but I hate it!) so I’m trying to think of an alternative. The key thing is I want to serve a white, and for it not to be too much effort so I can concentrate on the main course :relaxed:

Any suggestions?

Suggestions so far

  • antipasto platter
  • avocado, mozzarella and tomato salad
  • melon and Parma ham
  • duck or goose pate
  • smoked chicken or duck
  • tricolore salad
  • Goats cheese, parma ham, pear, rocket, walnuts
  • beef carpaccio
  • Iberico ham, Manchego, pickled walnuts
  • Italian salami and tomatoes
  • warm goats cheese salad
  • game bird terrine
1 Like

An antipasto platter. There might be some smoked meats that might compliment your wine selection. Easy enough to source from a good local Italian Delicatessen!


A couple of our favourite minimal effort starters for white wine are avocado, mozzarella and tomato salad (great with Chablis or similar) and melon and Parma ham, which we enjoy with a Mosel Kabinett. Drawback would be finding ripe tomatoes in winter, and possibly a ripe melon.

1 Like

Stick with the smoked salmon and get some calamari for your wife.


Like you we normally go down a smoked salmon (or crab) route. However our French relatives always serve a rich duck or goose pate with an Alsace Riesling at Xmas.


What about smoked chicken or duck?


What style of white would you likely be serving? Or would like to serve ideally?

I’m with Robert here - if people have enjoyed the smoked salmon in the past, then they might appreciate the “smoked something else” alteration. No point suggesting smoked trout as that’s too similar.

1 Like

I think smoked duck is a fab suggestion! Can’t think of anyone not liking something so delectable and unctious. Match it with a Pinot Gris from Alsace maybe?..


Thanks for the great suggestions so far!

Probably Rhone/burgundy/riesling. So basically a richer white, not sb :slight_smile:

One of my favourites is similar - a simple mozzarella and tomato salad. Well - slices of mozzarella and tomato arranged on the plate, with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, and torn basil leaves.

If you are a tomato purist, getting suitable tomatoes will indeed be a problem, but personally I find the Taste The Difference range at Sainsbury’s quite acceptable. They must be raised in heated greenhouses, so season is not an issue. Presumably equivalent quality can be had from other supermarkets too…? And, get the best quality cheese you can lay your hands on.

The issue I DO have however, is that I am not sure there are great wine matches - with the tomato and all - but most people don’t seem to be as fussy about that sort of thing.

1 Like

Goats cheese, parma ham, pear, rocket, maybe some crushed walnuts… I’d go for bubbles myself :clinking_glasses: (does that count?)


Ooh ok, so similar to a lot of the existing suggestions what about beef carpaccio? Unless you’re going with beef for your main, then it might be a bit beef heavy! Or something light but rich like stilton and walnut palmiers.


Iberico ham - shoulder, pata negra. You can get the whole thing with a holder and knife and they last for a couple of months if you can restrain yourself.
A white Rioja, Manchego, pickled walnuts…


I missed the richer white / riesling comment in my haste, and now I want some foie gras on toasted brioche…

1 Like

Ha, the main will be beef Wellington but you second suggestion sounds great :slight_smile:

1 Like

A good wine match to a plate of Italian salami and tomatoes is the WS Vecchia Moro Lambrusco. It’s also great with pizza.


I only serve smoked salmon now if I’ve caught the fish myself. There are so many question marks over the environmental issues around most farmed salmon (and indeed the safety of some of it!) that I look elsewhere now. I’ve caught 5 fish this year but returned them all as they were hen fish in later part of season so better back to spawn…

Back to the topic…I gravadlax a big rainbow trout every year for either Xmas or New Year, also a pheasant terrine or similar with Alsace Pinot Gris.

Parma Ham or the leg of Iberico ham are other good suggestions above, though for the latter a bit of a crowd at either Xmas or New Year is probably best.

Anyone want to know how to do their own gravadlax let me know and I’ll post. It’s easy. I have also done home made bresaola but that needs a fair bit of advance planning…


warm goats cheese salad ?
or …just get the wife some calamari…

My first thought was some sort of goat cheese thing, but a game bird terrine would fit the bill and be a bit more festive.

I’d be interested in your recipe @MarkC I’ve done a gravadlax side of salmon for the past few years and have been tinkering with the cure. I think I’ve settled on 50:50 sugar and salt with a large handful of crushed juniper, splash of gin and the zest of most of one lemon.