You may think Christmas is all about family arguments, consumer hysteria and religious superstition, however I just welcome any excuse for people to not go to work and have a big meal together instead. And Christmas dinner really doesn’t have to revolve around a big dead animal! Get into the kitchen yourself or with friends – I have had excellent Xmasses with friends, spending all day in the kitchen and at the table! Here are some ideas for vegan Xmas dinner…
(all the suggested vegetables are in season)
- Nut roast
- A puff pastry pie or ‘roulade’ e.g chestnut and mushroom, or mixed root vegetable
- Marinated and sauted seitan or tofu
- Baked stuffing balls
roasted sweet potatoes
roasted squash or pumpkin (with a pinch of cinnamon and allspice and/or add some finely chopped red chilli halfways through)
roasted parsnips (which you could glaze with syrup and mustard halfway through)
roast jerusalem artichokes (peel and halve them and roast for 35-40 minutes)
roasted beetroot (boil in skins for 20 minutes then cool, peel and cut into large chunks to roast, toss in some balsamic vinegar towards the end)
carrots (glazed with syrup and margarine, and maybe toasted sesame or cumin seeds)
frozen peas (with mint of course, or some outer lettuce leaves added towards the end of the cooking time)
braised red cabbage (with red wine vinegar and red wine and red onion and apple)
steamed winter cabbage, or stirfried
brussel sprouts (with chesnuts)
celeriac and apple puree
sweet potato mash
Sauces and condiments:
Gravy (try making your own! Use lots of red wine… mmmh)
bread sauce (convert a traditional recipe and make it with soy milk and cream)
Nibbles and Sweets:
dips and crudites and crackers and pickles such as cornichons and olives
mincepies – make your own or look for some vegan ones!
sweet cream sauce
vegan xmas pudding
Basic Nut Roast
This is my basic recipe which I tend to vary with, for example: different combinations of nuts, adding vegetables such as grated carrot or courgette, chopped tomatoes, roasted peppers, mushrooms, or whatever you think may go, or stretching it with some cooked lentils, or flavouring it with lemon, stronger herbs, soy sauce, or sprinkling the top with seeds or nuts. You could also thaw some frozen vegan puff pastry and roll it out, then shape the nut roast into a sausage inside and ‘wrap’ it to make a roast ‘en croute’.
Ingredients for 6: 1 large onion, 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 100g bread (for breadcrumbs), 225g nuts, 300ml vegetable stock, 2 tsp yeast extract, 1 tsp mixed herbs, salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.
1.Peel and dice the onion and cook it in the oil until soft.
2.Toast or oven bake the bread until slightly crispy, cool, then process or mill. Grind the nuts.
3.Heat the stock with the yeast extract, bring to the boil then take off the heat.
4.Mix all of the above in a large mixing bowl with the herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Bake in a greased deep baking tray (about 20cm long) for 30 minutes or until dry on the top but not burnt. If you are worried it will burn, cover it with tin foil for the first 20 minutes of cooking.
There are a few secrets to getting roast potatoes right. First choose a good quality floury potato. King Edwards make the best roast potatoes. Also think about the oil. Sunflower is fine, but olive oil does make extra good spuds.
You could also add herbs such as rosemary or thyme while roasting, or slip in some unpeeled coves of garlic amongst the potatoes when they are cooking and then suck the soft cooked garlic out of their skins when done.
Ingredients for 6: 1.5 kg floury potatoes, 1 tsp salt, 50 ml oil
1.Pre-heat the oven to 240°C / Gas Mark 8/9.
2.Wash the potatoes and peel if the skins are particularly tough. Chop them into fairly large pieces (5cm by 5cm), you probably only need to halve or quarter them.
3.Parboil the potatoes in boiling water for about 5 to 10 minutes. Get them out before they are cooked through. Drain them well and give them a bit of a shake to roughen up the skins which will help them go crunchy.
4.Put the oil in a large baking tray and heat it in the oven for a few minutes. Take the baking tray out and place it on the hob turned up high. Carefully pour the potatoes into the pan. Sprinkle the salt over and turn the potatoes over, covering them all in the hot oil.
5.Place the tray back in the oven and cook for 30 – 45 minutes, turning all the potatoes over, half way through. The potatoes are done when they are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Scoop them out of the oil and serve immediately.
Braised Leek and Rocket
This is like, posh, cos of the rocket.
Ingredients for 4-6: 1 onion, 1 tbsp margarine, 500g leeks, 6 cardamom pods, ½ tsp salt, 100g washed rocket or watercress, salt and pepper
1.Peel and slice the onion and cook it in the margarine for 2 minutes. Halve lengthways then slice the leeks into 3cm long pieces, and add to the pan. Add just enough water to cover, add the crushed cardamom pods (wrap them in muslin if you would like to fish em out later), and the salt and bring to the boil.
2.Cook for 10 minutes, then add the rocket and bring to the boil again for a minute. Season to taste.
German style Sauerbraten-style Gravy
This is a very distinctive – i.e. strange – slightly sweet and gingery gravy that you could use to impress non vegans with.
Ingredients for 6: 2 red onions, 2 tsp sugar, ½ tsp salt, 1 tsp allspice, ½ ground cloves, ½ tsp nutmeg, a few juniper berries, bay leaves, up to 1 litre red wine and/or stock, 100ml white or red wine vinegar, 200ml apple juice, 50g sultanas, 100g ginger nut biscuits, 1 tsp grated fresh ginger, pepper
1.Peel and slice the red onions and cook in a bit of oil for 15 minutes along with the sugar and salt.
2.Add the spices and juniper berries and bay leaves, stir through, then add the stock/red wine, vinegar, apple juice, and sultanas. Bring to the boil then simmer for 30 minutes to reduce.
3.Mill the ginger nuts in a food processor or bash with a rolling pin in a plastic bag, then add along with the ginger and seasoning to taste.
Sweet Cream Sauce
You could of course also add a bit of brandy to this.
Ingredients for 8: 500ml soy milk + 2 tbsp, ½ tsp vanilla essence, 100g caster sugar, 3 tbsp cornflour, 2 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
1.Gently heat 500ml soy milk with the vanilla (but don’t let it boil).
2.In a bowl, mix the sugar with the cornflour, oil, and 2 tbsp soy milk to a paste, then slowly pour the warmed milk in, stirring well.
3.Return this to the pan, and cook over a medium heat stirring well until it thickens and reduces, about 5 minutes.
Simple sweet lemon flavoured biscuits that melt in your mouth, these are based on German ‘Ausstecherle’ which are traditionally made around Christmas. The glaze is optional, but if you like you can also have fun decorating them with sugar decorations.
Ingredients for about 40-50: 250g plain flour, 125 icing sugar, zest of one lemon, 1 tbsp soy milk, 150g cold margarine
Glaze: 125g icing sugar, 2 tbsp squeezed lemon juice
1.Pre heat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.
2.Sift the flour and mix with the rind on a work surface. Chop the margarine up and scatter it over the flour, then use a knife to hack it into the flour. Use your hands to form this into a dough adding the soy milk drop by drop as you go.
3.Wrap the dough in clingfilm or a thin plastic bag and refrigerate for an hour.
4.Roll the dough out to 3 mm thickness on a lightly floured work surface with a rolling pin. Cut out shapes with cutters and place them on a greased baking sheet. Bake the biscuits for 10-15 minutes, until starting to brown on the underside, and leave them to cool on a wire rack.
5.Sift the icing sugar into a bowl then mix in the lemon juice to make the glaze. Pour over the cooled biscuits, decorate if you like, and leave to harden.
Last but not least… This recipe is from mulled cider I got to try in thimbles at Middle Farm, needless to say I had a good many thimble. It’s quite sweet so cut down on the sugar if you prefer it less so.
Ingredients: 4 pints of still, dry farmhouse cider (DO NOT USE horrible cheap stuff – unless you want horrible cheap mulled cider, bah), 3 apples, 2 oranges, juice and zest (rind) of 1 lemon, 2 tsp ground mixed spice, 8 whole cloves, 2 cinnamon quills snapped in half, 6 tbsp light soft brown sugar, or to taste.
1.Wash, core and slice the apples, and wash and slice the oranges (no need to peel).
2.Put all the ingredients into a pan, cover and heat gently for 1 hour or longer. Don’t let it come to the boil!
3.Strain through a sieve and serve.
Most of these recipes are from ‘Another Dinner Is Possible’ Which you can buy in the Last Hours shop