Prime Rib Stars in This 90% Hands-Off Holiday Feast

Here's your game plan.

December  6, 2018
Photo by Rocky Luten

Putting together a holiday feast doesn't need to be a hassle. We've partnered with The Fresh Market to share an impressive, festive menu where the ingredients shine and the prep work is minimal.

You see them on the cover of every magazine and all over Instagram this time of year: image after image of the perfect holiday table, complete with a glistening roast, dozens of side dishes, and at least three different pies. Such a photogenic spread might seem unattainable for your own dining room, but I'm here to tell you that you are indeed mistaken.

Because to pull off a picture-perfect feast, all you really need are a few solid recipes that use simple techniques to let quality ingredients shine. I'm talking tried-and-true winter classics like fluffy mashed potatoes, sautéed vegetables, a centerpiece that just needs salt, pepper, and some time in the oven to make everyone swoon.

That's why this year, I'm going for the ultimate impressive—but very doable!—holiday main course: Prime rib! With a supporting cast of similarly hands-off crowd-pleasers, my holiday menu might be the easiest one I've ever cooked. Most of these recipes clock in at five ingredients or less, and none of them will have me hovering at the stove; even the dessert is make-ahead (don't worry, pumpkin is involved). Stick to this menu, and I promise you'll have plenty of time to eat, drink, and be merry. Here's how to pull it all off with minimal stress:

The Small Bites

The easiest part of your menu ought to be the little nibbles your guests snack on when they first arrive—these ricotta crostini are just the ticket. Both parts of the recipe can be prepped in advance: You can make the ricotta mixture (I like to use the best, freshest ricotta I can find since it's the star of the plate) a night or two before and store it covered in the fridge; the crostini can be made three to five days ahead and stored in air-tight containers to stay crispy. If the ricotta alone doesn't feel festive enough, you can drizzle on some honey, or a little bit of this bright, herby emerald oil (it will actually last in the fridge for up to a few months) for a colorful touch that still adds flavor. I like to serve mine alongside marinated olives...which you can make yourself, or simplify by picking up from the store.

The Sides

When it comes to holiday fare, you'd be hardpressed to find dishes more classic than these two: The fresh and crunchy haricots verts (given a little something extra thanks to chicken stock and crushed garlic) makes a perfect plate partner to the fluffy, starchy potatoes. The best part about these recipes, though? Both take less than 20 minutes from start to finish (and the potatoes also reheat nicely in the microwave or on the stove top).

For an extra-special meal, I like to dress my potatoes up a bit: Whip up this mushroom and thyme gravy for a savory drizzle, or top each serving with a dollop of one of these compound herb butters or even store-bought truffle butter.

The Show-stopper

A holiday feast wouldn't be complete without a centerpiece, right? And no, I'm not just talking about the flowers (I usually pick up a fresh arrangement at the market) and candles—one of my absolute favorite mains is this standing rib roast with a jammy pan sauce. If you're worried about ruining an excellent (not to mention, expensive) cut of meat, don't—this roast is almost impossible to mess up. In this recipe, the oven and your food thermometer does most of the work; for a medium-rare center, the internal temperature should be 120°F when you pull it out of the oven (you can expect the temperature to rise 10° to 15° as it rests). Once the roast is rested and ready to eat, all you need to do is carve it up and arrange the slices on your favorite serving platter.

The Dessert

I'm a huge fan of pumpkin desserts, so something orange and spiced is a must for me. While I love pie as much as the next person, when I'm hosting a dinner, I'd much prefer something I can get ready a day or two in advance and then completely forget about until it comes time to serve. That's why this pumpkin pie pudding has become a new standby—it has the traditional flavors people come to expect during the season, but skips the crust altogether. Plus, the texture and taste actually improves with a night in the fridge. But psst, I'll let you in on a secret—sometimes when all that prep work is feeling too hectic, I skip the homemade dessert altogether and go for a sweet, shareable treat from the market, like these fresh-baked apple pies sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. (My guests have never been the wiser!)

In partnership with The Fresh Market, where you'll find the freshest, highest-quality ingredients for your own feast, we're sharing a holiday lineup that's as simple as can be. From appetizers and side dishes that can be prepped well in advance, to a show-stopping roast that comes together in a cinch, you'll find everything you need to get this menu on the dinner table at The Fresh Market.

Food52's Automagic Holiday Menu Maker
View Maker
Food52's Automagic Holiday Menu Maker

Choose your holiday adventure! Our Automagic Menu Maker is here to help.

View Maker

Join the Conversation

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • April
  • Erin Alexander
    Erin Alexander
  • delcecchi
Erin Alexander is the Associate Editor at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.


April December 6, 2018
I always want to make rib roast for Christmas but I'm so intimidated by it. This recipe looks wonderful. I actually have a Fresh Market near my office too. My family will be so excited we're doing something new this year!
Author Comment
Erin A. December 6, 2018
I'm so happy to hear that, April! This rib roast recipe is such an easy, delicious win, I can't wait to hear how it goes :) Have a lovely holiday!
delcecchi December 6, 2018
Recipe is backwards.
Do reverse sear. Put roast in slow oven or sous vide first. when it is done to desired temp, remove from oven. Crank oven to max and brown outside of meat.