It is a scene played out all over the world at Christmas. You have agreed to cook for family and friends when it turns out that one of them doesn’t eat meat, or cheese, dairy products or a combination of all three. Turkey is out so what do you do? Hit the recipe books or the internet for inspiration.
As one of those awkward people I usually suggest that I bring my own food, a nut loaf or pie so not to inconvenience my hosts too much. This idea is usually scoffed at however as, to my host’s credit, they usually seize the opportunity to try and cook something from scratch (though they are probably cursing me by midday!).
So to take some of the pain out of Christmas Day recipe searching I have hit the books and the net to try and find you the tastiest ones that they have to offer. These should have the flavour and the protein that your guests need to have a great dinner.
Starters are not be too hard just make sure to avoid fish or any hidden animal ingredients such as rennet in cheese or gelatin in jellies. Soups can be an easy way to keep everyone feed and full just be careful of the type of stock. My family usually has breaded mushrooms which are delicious.
For something a bit different I would suggested these Stuffed Mushrooms with Tofu and Herbs from Miso Vegan. You can also get a range of patés and spreads in Simply Vegetarian by the Vegetarian Society. Soup wise, try something different like a pumpkin and carrot soup from Vegetarian Microwave Cooking for One and Two. This soup is a handy portion size if you are serving an otherwise meaty starter.
This is the area where chefs can get most creative but also require a bit of work. Places such as Marks and Spencers (M&S) make really good ready-made nutloaf and lentil tarts. Although risotto or pasta dishes are tasty they don’t tend to fit in with a Christmas themed dinner. It can feel a bit like guests are missing out on the yummy roast vegetables or braised cabbages (minus any goose/duck fat of course.) Also be careful with utensils and ovens, sharing them can transfer the taste of meat and spoil the dishes.
But if you are feeling like impressing all with your culinary skills check out these ideas below:
There are loads of ideas on Fat Free Vegan Blog and I cook at least one dish a week from Susan’s great list of yummy dishes. For Christmas there is the delicious Meatless Loaf. Technically for Thanksgiving it will hold up as well at Christmas. For the more adventurous you can try the Seitan Stuffed with Walnuts, Dried Cranberries, and Mushrooms. Both dishes would be delicious with onion gravy or cranberry sauce. You can see all of Susan’s holiday grub here.
I can’t write a list of winter dishes without including one with squash. This stuffed butternut squash with walnuts, cannellini beans and thyme from Cooking for Vegans will be impressive and provide the guest with all the goodness from delicious pulses. You can even buy pre-peeled and hollowed out squashes in M&S so this dish is simple and easy.
Christmas can also be hard for those who are trying to watch their weight. Dishes full of fat, grease and/or cheese can go down badly if somebody has been dieting or just has a sensitive disposition. My Mum’s favourite Rosemary Conley in her book Slim to Win has a delicious sounding Aubergine Crown Provençal. At only 76 calories a serving, you can’t go wrong.
At the other end of the spectrum there is pie. Lots of lovely pie. My pie of choice is the mushroom and chestnut pie with shallot and pie gravy from A Year at Avoca: Cooking for Ireland. It is delicious and the perfect belly buster for a blow out Christmas dinner.
If you have the fortune to be spending Christmas in a sunny climate you may be having a BBQ. For this River Cottage Veg Everyday is indispensable. Chargrilled summer veg, grilled halloumi, charred leeks with romesco, and griddled asparagus spears.
For delicious sides look no further than the Vegetarian Society and their book Simply Vegetarian. Marmalade glazed carrots, spicy red cabbage, rosemary roast potatoes, mushroom and spinach salad and creamy mash are all included.
As with mains most traditional items will be fine. Again watch out for gelatin and rennet. There may also be suet in dishes like Christmas pudding. You can get veggie suet but it is less common than the animal version.
So whatever you choose to serve and eat, bon appétit and happy Christmas!