Christmas tree-shaped meals for a prettier Noche Buena

Noche Buena is one of the most anticipated events in the Filipino calendar. Filling your Noche Buena plate has become an art and so is coming up with dishes that won’t be ignored and shoved to the back of the fridge after midnight. One way to make a dish stand out is to make it look pretty and seasonal—like making it Christmas tree-shaped!

Here’s our list of Christmas tree-shaped meal ideas for you to try out.

Shrimp Christmas tree

Who doesn’t love peeled shrimp (apart from people who have seafood allergies)? If you want a presentation grander than shrimp rings or shrimp cocktails, turn your shrimps to edible Christmas tree decors. 

For Shared Food’s recipe, they wrapped a nine-inch tall Styrofoam (you can also try finding a more eco-conscious alternative) cone with aluminum foil. They used toothpicks to attach leafy greens to the cone and cut off the exposed pieces of toothpick. Then, they placed a slice of cheese on a dry serving plate where they set the “tree” to anchor.

Frilled toothpicks were then used to attach shrimp with other decor like cherry tomatoes, green olives, or even sliced lumpia as tree decor. You can scatter leftover vegetables around the base of the tree and serve the tree with your dip of choice.

Tortilla roll-ups Christmas tree

It’s hard not to be a fan of one-bit meals like mini tortilla roll-ups. Time for a Meal’s roll-up recipe for green tortilla with salmon is particularly eye-catching. You can buy store-bought tortillas or make your own green version using spinach, flour, water, salt, and oil. You can follow the recipe we linked for the baking steps.

Afterward, you can start making the filling. Mix a teaspoon of chopped dill with cream cheese, Greek yogurt, garlic, and a bit of salt and pepper. Spread the cream on your cooled down tortillas and place two to three pieces of smoked salmon on each. Roll it up, wrap it in cling film and have it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Then arrange the tortillas in tiers on a  tray decorated with lettuce or whatever you fancy. You can also decorate the roll-ups with leftover cream. 

Christmas tree pull-apart bread

Want to put your newly-acquired baking skill to the test? Tasty’s spinach and pesto Christmas tree pull-apart bread may be the challenge for you. (Though you can opt for a Nutella version if you have a sweet tooth.) In their recipe, you can start by preheating your oven and making your dip. You combine cream cheese, sour cream, and ranch dip seasoning. After stirring, fold in some spinach and set the dip aside.

Then, you roll out a tube of pizza dough on a piece of baking paper. Cut it from each bottom corner to the center at the top. You can use your full triangle or pinch together the two halves of a triangle as your base. Spread your spinach dip on one side of the triangle and spread your pesto on the other. Then place your other dough triangle on top. Stretch the dough to cover the spread completely.

Make horizontal slices about an inch apart from the top to bottom. But leave the “trunk” of the tree intact. Then pull the strips outwards and twist for the pine tree effect. Brush a mix of melted butter and garlic over the tree before sprinkling Italian herbs and parmesan. After baking it for 12-15 minutes, serve it with marinara sauce.

Christmas tree bacon pastry skewers

Here’s another bread-based treat on our list. For more festive-looking skewers, try Fooby Swiss’s Christmas tree skewer recipe. After preheating your oven, spread your sheet of puff pastry on baking paper. Cover it with your spread of choice like red tapenade with chopped parsley. Then, cut it into wide strips and top them off with bacon strips.

Create your mini trees by skewering each strip starting at the base. You can even add an extra topping at the top. Bake it for 13 mins at 220 degrees Celsius on the bottom half of the oven. You can drizzle syrup on it or sprinkle it with parsley before serving.

Mount Christmas pavlova

If you’re into a meringue, this dessert is right up your alley. A pavlova is a meringue-based cake that has a crisp crust but is light on the inside. In Chris Urbano’s Mount Christmas pavlova recipe, he tops it with whipped cream as well as mango and banana slices.

Begin by creating the meringue using egg whites, salt, and sugar. You can check the linked recipe for the steps. When that’s done, create your whipped cream. Pour whipping cream into a blender and whisk it for five minutes. Then, add a bit of calamansi juice and blend.

Start building your Mount Christmas by spreading the meringue mix onto the baking paper on the first pan. Bake it in the oven at 150 degrees Celsius for an hour and a half. Pour the cream on top of the first layer when cooled and add your mango and banana slices. Repeat the process for the second and third layers. Sprinkle it with grated calamansi and voilà!

Photo screen grabbed from Time for a Meal’s video

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Amrie Cruz: Amrie is a nonbinary writer who likes to talk about politics, K-pop, and frogs. They have a dog daughter named Cassie who doesn’t go to school.