Christmas Day. The main event. The most talked about meal of the year. And yet..oh and yet, if the magazines are to be believed, vegetarians all over this land are sat at the festive table chowing down on a butternut pilaf dishes or some poor veg with an infestation of chickpeas. I sincerely hope that this is not the case.
(Screenshot from 4 Food website)
It is true that the Christmas Meal is one fraught with tensions and ambiguities as it is; trying to find a single meal, whose many components are all perfectly suited to all diners can be tricky. Add to that one or two of us pesky vegetarians, and the camel’s back might just be broken. But fear not, for here I have collected a few good idea, recipes, hints and tips, all of which have seen me happily through many meatless festive periods.
Three, it’s a magic number…
1) KEEP IT SIMPLE
My key tip would be to keep things simple. This is best achieved if you can get the group to eat as many veggie friendly things as possible; there are numerous classic starters that are veggie, roast potatoes really don’t need to be roasted in goose fat to be delicious, and sprouts are sprouts with or without the bacon. Meat elements can be added to the meal separately if they must be, but keeping the core of the meal vegetarian really does help. Making a festive feast is hard work; making two is even harder.
2) GET THE GRAVY RIGHT
One area of the meal that my family will not budge on is the gravy; their having a meat gravy is non-negotiable. So I make a small(ish) pan of gravy just for me. And make it taste better than theirs, just so I can feel smug. My go-to gravy is a simple onion one, but for Christmas I tend to go a bit fancier, adding the best red wine from the table, plus a hint of Marsala, and maybe also some cranberry sauce, just to add a festive touch. (If you would like a more specific recipe, just let me know in the comment section below.)
HAVE A MEAT ALTERNATIVE
For the regular Sunday Roast I am a massive advocate of just having more of everything else in place of the meat element, however, for Christmas day I do think it important to have a bit of a show stopper in the middle of your plate. So, what are your options? Here are just a few ideas:
This is the obvious choice, however that doesn’t mean that it is not exciting and delicious when done right. I have revealed my version of this classic in a previous post; this is ideal as you can buy ready rolled pastry (Christmas time is a time for family, friends and drinking, not a time to be faffing on with pastry), and you can make it and bake it the day before, simply reheating a slice or two on a baking tray when required. It is also perfect cold the next day, with chips and chutneys. This is my most regular Christmas choice.
Another dish that has featured on my blog (albeit in the comment section), this is perfect for many of the same reasons as the roast above: bought pastry, can be made in advance etc. Also great is the cheese in these little parcels, which mixes perfectly with the other elements of the meal.
More generally, filo parcels are perfect. Simply melt some butter, grease the holes of a muffin tin, layer up four or five sheets of filo pastry (brushing the layers with the butter as you go) in each hole, fill with the filling of your choice, then bring together the overhang. Brush with an egg wash and cook at around 200C for about 20 minutes or so. I like these filled with a garlicky, mushroomy, creamy mix, or with roasted veg and goats cheese. The options are endless.
Puff pastry tartlets
These are the easiest option; simply unroll some bought, pre-rolled puff pastry, cut it into your desired size and shape, lightly score a border around the edge, load with toppings, the place on a greased baking tray and cook at around 200C for about 20 minutes or so. Couldn’t be simpler. As for toppings, any veg/cheese combo works really; I particularly enjoy a leek, goats cheese and walnut tart.
Some other ideas, just for luck…
Individual veggie toad-in-the-holes; leek strudels; onion tarte tartins; little vegetable pies.
So there you have it, my wisdom on being a vegetarian at Christmas. As for what I am going to have for my own Christmas dinner, I’m toying with the idea of making a little ramekin of this delicious sounding cauliflower cheese. Mainly as I think it would be delicious in the Boxing day chip-chutney-and-leftover-butties that are traditional in our household. Ah Boxing day, my favorite day of the year.
If you want more detailed recipes, or posts, on any of the dishes that I have mentioned, just leave a comment below. Please do let me know your thoughts on the festive feast; I really am very nosy, and would love to know what you were all planning to eat!