For many, Christmas is a time of feasting, of large, tasty meals guaranteed to swell the girth, strain the belts and put a rosy, contented glow on the face. A hefty turkey complete with trimmings piled high is synonymous with the season. For vegetarians the romance of the dishes is somewhat lacking in popular imagery but not in terms of the variety of mouth-watering toothsome Christmas meals.
Sometimes coming up with interesting meals takes a bit of doing if you are not a vegetarian yourself and are simply catering for one during Christmas Day. If this is you and you need a bit of inspiration then read on for a selection of five menus comprising starters, mains and desserts. Remember you are not just looking for a meat substitute but a complete, rounded dish.
Christmas Eve Bread
This is a delicious and simple, traditional starter. Add a bit of sugar to the mix for the sweet toothed or spread a little jam on it. There are no eggs or fat involved in this otherwise low calorie bread.
Truffled parsnip and Parmesan bruschetta
Looking for something a bit more upmarket? Then this starter using scented truffle oil and fresh Parmesan cheese could be just what you need. If your guests are a bit unsure of the strong taste of parsnip, this is a great way of re-acquainting them with that lovely root vegetable.
Celeriac fritters with rosemary aioli
Continuing the high dining theme is this little fritters and dip combo. Celeriac is an underused vegetable which is a real shame as it has a rich, strong flavour and its versatility makes it good for soups too.
Fig with Blue Cheese, Honey and Thyme
If more meat eaters were served starters as tasty and exciting as this flavoursome blend then you would really influence them to consider vegetarianism as a real alternative. After assembling this starter, the dish really comes alive with an optional few minutes grilling.
Roast Tomato Soup with Haricot Beans & Basil and St Helen’s Farm Goats’ Cheese Croutons
This next recipe gets it flavour from the roasting of the tomatos on a baking tray before making the soup, the tomatos are drizzled in balsamic and roasted in garlic and chilli for 30 minutes until they are brown. The tomatos and all their juices are then simmered with haricot beans and basil to make a tasty and filling soup, so perhaps small portions would be advised. The final touch to this warming starter comes in the form of goats cheese croutons and a swirl of goats cheese to finish off the dish.
With your guests’ appetites well and truly whetted you have time to continue your culinary onslaught with the main meal. The starter also gives the prospective chef some valuable time to get on with the next course, not leaving the guests hungry.
This dish can be time-consuming to prepare and bake but, if you are prepared, it can be made in advance then frozen and finished off in a hot oven. Shop bought vegetarian puff pastry is a suitable alternative to making your own if time is a factor or if you are less than convinced at your pastry-making ability. Eat straight from the oven when risen and golden to appreciate the full wow factor.
Fresh Savoy, red onion and Egg Pie
The key to getting this pie just perfect is in making sure the pastry seal is tight. It keeps the eggs on the soft side and maintains just the right level of moisture and best texture. It may sound like an unusual combination of ingredients but, for a Christmas-time treat, it takes a lot to beat.
Roasted Vegetable Lasagne
Lasagne isn’t the first meal that may come to mind when thinking about Christmassy food but, couple it with roast vegetables and you’re onto a winner. Roast potatoes, parsnips and carrots are delicious and undeniably the tastiest way to cook your veg. Added to a cheesy lasagne and you’ll win anyone over. The turkey survives to make ‘gobble gobble’ sounds another day.
Leek and Goats’ Cheese Pie
I’m not a big fan of goats’ cheese and only some of my vegetarian friends enjoy by it. Oddly, the pungent taste is toned down by the leeks and, once baked, I have to admit to reluctantly liking this dish. The ingredients also include spinach – another opinion-dividing vegetable but it works exceptionally well as part of this non-meat medley.
Christmas Veggie Nut Roast
With a complex mix of walnuts, hazelnuts, walnuts and roasted cashews this classic nut roast is high in taste and very filling. My preference is for including as many nut types as possible rather than opting for just one or two. The Christmas Nut Roast gives you the perfect opportunity to go wild with seeds and spices and make it a main to remember.
Now you’re talking my language. The perfect way to round off the meal is with a scrumptious dessert. Well it’s either that or Charades. Or both, if you like that kind of thing.
Apple Cinnamon Toastie
Taking the recipe of cinnamon-swirl bread and adding a hefty dollop of apple then toasting and you get this amazingly moreish dessert. It’s one of those afters you just have to leave room for. If you’re up for an even bigger taste sensation than smear on some hazelnut or chocolate spread.
Traditional French Vegan Yule Log
The Chocolate Yule log is naturally vegetarian but with a few minor ingredient changes you can make this dessert Vegan friendly. A soya milk product, known as cooking cream, is ideal towards preparing a ganache. Thick ‘non-dairy’ butter icing made with organic 70% cocoa solids is drag-forked to give the bark effect. A beautiful, perfect pudding if ever there was one.
Vegetarian Sherry Trifle
Never one to follow the trend, I still serve a boozy trifle or sherry trifle at Christmas. It’s traditional after all. The poor sherry trifle is regularly scorned by television chefs for being a kitsch thing of the 1970s and 80s but what do they know? Lashings of a good medium sherry are ideal and using a non-gelatine based setting agent for the jelly allows you to serve it to all your guests with aplomb.
Dark Gingerbread Pear Cake with Homemade Cinnamon Whipped Cream
Gingerbread is typically seasonal and often used as a snack with a steaming cup of hot coffee. For a dessert, the following tweaks make it lip smackingly gorgeous. Adding ripe pear to the mix prior to cooking then adding a dash of cinnamon to some whipped cream, combine to deliver a new vibrancy to an old favourite.
Vegetarian Christmas Pudding
The archetypal seasonal dessert is of course the Christmas Pudding. This stomach filling, briefly disabling afters is often used to round off the meal. Using vegetable suet makes it ideal for those avoiding meaty produce and also helps to lower the amount of saturated fat present. Not that many people will be watching their waistline or calorie counting on the day of course!