Match Your Mood With One of These New Year’s Eve Menus

Send off this abominable year with fancy, lazy, or vegan dishes

Black Board showing “(Bye) 2020, (hello) 2021” written on it by white chalk.
Photo: Carmen Martínez Torrón/Moment/Getty Images

We’re a few days away from officially ushering out one of the worst years many of us can ever remember. In theory, that’s cause for celebration, but it’s not as if any of this will go away when the clock strikes midnight. I guess that’s my way of saying that I really have no idea what kind of New Year’s Eve any of you are up for this year.

What I do know is that, one way or another, you’re going to have to eat something. Maybe you want to channel a whole bunch of anxious energy into cooking for family or friends, or maybe you just want to collapse onto the couch by yourself with a bowl of pasta and a bottle of wine (I haven’t been a drinker for a while, but the couch + pasta part does sound appealing).

In the spirit of trying to cover some bases, I’ve put together three different New Year’s Eve menus (appetizer, main, and dessert) to cater to a few different moods. There’s the “fancy” menu for anyone feeling slightly ambitious (or in need of distraction), the “lazy” menu for anyone who just wants to cook the dinner equivalent of sweatpants (very on-brand for 2020), and the “I’m sick of meat” menu for anyone who’s either vegan or wants to eat like one for a night. Here’s where I landed:

For the “fancy” menu: Gravlax; Steak Au Poivre with Mushrooms; Poached Pears with Star Anise and Ginger Creme Anglaise. (The gravlax is surprisingly easy, but takes a few days to cure, so if you want that by New Year’s Eve, start soon.)

For the “lazy” menu: Greens with Vinaigrette, Pasta Puttanesca, and Yogurt Raspberry Fool. (Note: the recipe for the salad is just a master vinaigrette recipe with a bunch of variations. To turn it into a salad, just toss it with a few handfuls of whatever greens you like. Like I said, lazy.)

For the vegan menu: Roasted or Grilled Eggplant Dip, Stuffed Butternut Squash (which is kinda a stunner), and Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding. (The pudding, which uses silken tofu, is a bit of a revelation; if you want it to be truly vegan, just make sure to use a good-quality dark chocolate that doesn’t have any milk products added to it.)

And, obviously, if you don’t want to make New Year’s a whole thing, scrap the menu idea, and just pick one dish (whatever it is) that might bring you some comfort or joy. That’s as good a way as any to say good riddance to 2020. Happy New Year.

Has published 30 books, including How to Cook Everything and VB6: The Case for Part-Time Veganism. Newsletter at

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