It’s time to move on from the same old side dishes – Marc Weir jumps right into summer with spectacular salads.

Some of the northern Christmas rituals are, for me, unshakeable: the smell of pine, the twinkle of lights and the wreaths on doorways, not to mention finishing the day with a dark chocolate fruit cake and the most delicious cherries you can find. And don’t forget the last tipple of the day.

But why have a traditional northern hemisphere Christmas lunch or dinner when the sun is shining and the abundance of fresh, seasonal spring and summer produce is at its best? New Zealanders are well known to gather for an informal Christmas day lunch, whether it be with friends or family, for a big gathering or maybe just two. While a formal dinner indoors remains traditional, a casual, relaxed al fresco lunch for the warmer months is preferred. Christmas cooking should always be fun. As well as flavour, I often think about the colours of Christmas, then those ideas become something festive, special and delicious.

These salad recipes are all part of a family that can be either served together or separately as you wish. All can be prepared in advance and assembled and dressed in the final moments before serving for maximum deliciousness and minimum stress.

I would never want Christmas without it being simple and delicious, with the smell of a barbecued rotisserie chicken or a savoury glazed ham, perhaps.

Finally, Christmas Day will end, and with the late hours of summer my head will rest, knowing I will wake with the promise of leftovers for that midnight snack or Boxing Day entertaining.