Food

A Meat-free Christmas

Image by Hannah Penwright

Intro by Indigo Jones

We can all admit 2020 has been horrific, but one positive to come out of this doomsday of a year is an increasing amount of meat free and vegan products. Since Veganuary earlier this year, supermarkets and fast-food places have doubled their number of vegan items allowing everyone to incorporate meat-free items into their diets thus encouraging more people to become plant based. This year we’ve decided to showcase two vegetarian and one vegan alternative to have with your Christmas dinner, giving you all a head start on next year’s Veganuary!

Stuffed butternut squash 

by Shannon Bowes-Cavanagh

Ingredients

1 Butternut squash

A variety of different mushrooms

Leeks

Shallots

85g of melted butter

Bread

Hazelnuts (Optional)

Herbs (Thyme, Sage etc.)

2 eggs

Method

One of the best things about Christmas is the food and there are some amazing meat free recipes to add to your Christmas dinner. Roasted butternut squash is one of my favourites because of its adaptability. 

  1. To roast the butternut squash, cut it lengthways and scoop out the seeds about an inch from the edge. Place it in a roasting tin and drizzle with oil and butter.
  2. My personal favourite filling is a vegetarian mushroom stuffing but you can really use anything you like. To make the mushroom filling, soak some porcini mushrooms in hot water for about half an hour and then chop to basically whatever size you prefer. 
  3. Cook leeks, shallots, and shiitake mushrooms in about 85g of melted butter for 15 minutes or until they are nice and soft. 
  4. Add the porcini mushrooms and cook for five minutes. 
  5. Move the mixture to a large bowl then add in some breadcrumbs, you can choose to make crouton style cubes instead by just cutting some bread into squares and toasting in some garlic butter which goes nicely with this filling, but I usually just mix in some store-bought breadcrumbs. 
  6. I also like to add some toasted hazelnuts as well because it’s quick (8-10 mins) and it feels a bit more festive. Season with some parsley, thyme, sage and of course some salt and pepper. 
  7. Then mix in two beaten eggs to bond the mixture and 180ml of vegetable stock or enough so that the mixture looks moist and soft rather then crumbly. 
  8. Now fill the butternut squash with your mushroom mixture, cover in foil and roast for 1 hour. If you want it to be crispier on the top then you can uncover it and roast for a further 15 minutes. 
  9. Once cooked you can cut into slices if half a butternut squash is too much.

It seems like a lot of work but it’s worth it because it adds something a little bit different to your roast if you’re not a meat eater. It is also so adaptable; my sister just mixes together different cheeses, but you could also add some cranberries and chestnuts to this to make it more festive. 

File:Cucurbita moschata Butternut squash seed cavity and seeds.jpg
Image: Julian Fong (via Wikimedia commons)

Nut Roast 

by Indi Scott Whitehouse

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 large onion 

2 sticks of celery 

4 garlic cloves

150g chestnut mushrooms

1 red pepper

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp smoked paprika

125g red lentils

300ml vegetable stock

2 tbsp tomato puree

100g breadcrumbs 

150g mixed nuts, chopped

3 large eggs

125g grated cheese

Flat leaf parsley  

Method

1.     Fry the onion, celery, garlic, mushrooms, pepper and spices in the olive oil

2.     Once the ingredients are soft, add in the vegetable stock, lentils and tomato puree

3.     Simmer on a low heat until the mix is reduced, and leave it to cool

4.     Once it is cool, stir in the breadcrumbs, nuts, eggs, cheese and parsley 

5.     Put the mix into a loaf tin (and preferably a tin liner) 

6.     Cook at 180 degrees for 1-2 hours or until a skewer comes out clean

We have been using my mum’s nut roast recipe in our Christmas dinners for years. It’s a lovely nutritious substitute for the traditional Christmas turkey. With mushrooms, eggs, nuts and lentils, this recipe is a great way for vegetarians to get in their iron and protein that can often be hard to find replacements for. 

It can be easily adapted to a vegan meal, by using egg and cheese alternatives. We have always cooked a gluten free version in our family, by making our own gluten free breadcrumbs and washing the lentil thoroughly before cooking (processing of lentils means that it sometimes contains remnants of gluten products).  

This is a tasty, wholesome dish, and while the preparation can be fairly time consuming, cooking it a day or two in advance makes it an easy meal to heat up in the microwave. It often tastes even better a few days after cooking. Alternatively, the cooking time is a great opportunity to get the rest of the veg and Christmas sides sorted. 

File:Gunmakers, Clerkenwell, London (6504848123).jpg
Image credit: Ewan Munro (via Wikimedia Commons)

Veggie sausage, cranberry and stuffing plait 

by Hannah Penwright

The past couple of years have been amazing for the veggie and vegan products available in restaurants and supermarkets alike, and one of my favourites to come out this year is the Richmond meat-free sausages. These take me right back to my childhood and are by far my new favourite veggie sausage. That being said, it only seemed right to choose them as part of my vegan Christmas feast- but eating them just as sausages seemed a bit too plain and simple. So, when I saw the idea for a veggie sausage plait online, I knew I had to give it a try myself! You don’t have to use Richmond sausages, but the alternative needs to be something that you can mash and form into a long sausage, like Shroomdogs or Cauldron’s sausages.

Ingredients

1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry (make sure it’s dairy free if you want it to be vegan)

8 Richmond meat free sausages, defrosted if frozen

1 tsp mixed herbs

½ tsp black pepper

4 tbsps cranberry sauce

½ packet sage and onion stuffing mix (approx. 80g)

Milk, to glaze (or milk alternatives)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 180°C fan.
  2. Make up the stuffing mix as per packet instructions and set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Break up the sausages into a mixing bowl (removing the skins if they have them) and stir in the mixed herbs and black pepper. Set aside.
  4. Roll out the puff pastry sheet onto a lightly floured surface, so that the shorter edges are horizontal.
  5. Measure a third into each side and score lightly, so you have three lines going down the pastry. 
  6. Cut diagonal strips into the outside two thirds of the pastry rectangle- it doesn’t matter if these are pointing upwards or downwards. 
  7. Crumble the stuffing along the middle third of the pastry and spoon over the cranberry sauce, spreading it lightly so it covers most of the stuffing.
  8. Form the sausage mix into a long log and place on top of the stuffing and cranberry sauce.
  9. Lightly brush the outside thirds of the pastry with milk, and cross over the filling, taking one strip from each side each time so you end up with a criss-cross pattern.
  10. Transfer the plait to a baking sheet and brush with some more milk (or you can use beaten egg). Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is cooked. 
  11. Serve in slices alongside your favourite vegetables, and lots of gravy.
Image credit: Hannah Penwright
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