There seems to be a common misconception when it comes to how vegetarians deal with the festive period. Many believe that a vegetarian diet is restrictive and takes away all of the simple recipe options you can have throughout the year, and especially at Christmas where meat, goose fat roasted potatoes and pigs in blankets take centre stage. However, what people don’t realise is that vegetarian food at Christmas is just as diverse as food containing animal products. Personally, I prefer it. I don't miss meat at all and for me, the veg is the most delicious part of any meal, not the dead animals. Plus I see the meat as a small part – all the different veg, stuffing, roasties and Yorkshire puds provide the bulk of the meal, not the meat.
To give you an insight into what a typical vegetarian Christmas might look like for vegetarians and to spread some inspiration for any of you who are just starting out living without meat; here's what us veggies can look forward to eating during December.
Whether you are going to the office Christmas party in a restaurant, spending a wild night out with your friends, or preparing for a night around the fire pit with your family: Christmas parties always offer a wide range of foods for everyone to enjoy. If you can’t eat meat, you don’t need to worry about munching on salad all evening. You can still enjoy the majority of any buffet and restaurants are offering more and more delicious veggie options than ever before.
The Main Event
Just because we don't want a succulent roast turkey or a honey glazed ham at this time of year it doesn’t mean we are missing out, in fact there are lots of options when it comes to the main dish at Christmas. You could opt for a veg wellington, feta and spinach pie, or the classic option: nut roast. I'll either have a nut roast or lots of extra stuffing.
The great thing about this time of year is that nuts are at their prime. You can roast chestnuts on the fire, enjoy munching a big bag of hazelnuts … and of course make a nut roast with your favourite nuts. One example is to use a mix of nuts which you love and make them into a roast with spinach. Some of the most delicious nut roasts I’ve ever had contain fruity apricots and melted goats cheese. Your meat eating friends will be envious!
Vegetable gravies are varied and you can really use any combination of vegetables you like and thicken it with corn starch or flour. However, one option which screams Christmas is mushroom gravy. Mushrooms have that gorgeous earthy flavour with accompanies the nut roast to perfection. Make your own or grab a fresh gravy from the store. Just watch out for dodgy ingredients on dried mixes and try to opt for a fresh choice every time.
It can be argued that the real stars of the show at Christmas are the side dishes. Nothing beats a fluffy roast potato and sweet root vegetables. Like I said earlier, the majority of any roast for me and most people are the veg and sides. The meat is only a small factor, so it’s barely missed when eating a veg only roast.
Perfect Roast Potatoes
Prefect roast potatoes are of course the real star of any Christmas meal; the fluffier the better. We cook ours in olive oil or butter; these are much healthier options. To make them extra fluffy, boil them for five minutes, drain, add the olive oil to the pan and shake them up before adding them to the roasting tray. Whilst boiling, preheat the oven and pop in the tray with either your butter or olive oil. When you add the potatoes to the tray it will sizzle and they’ll fluff up nicely. We cook ours for 50-60 minutes until ready.
Honey Glazed Carrots and Parsnips
The mixture of honey with these vegetables gives that ideal balance of flavour to your Christmas dinner, and it is ideal for anyone who wants to try something a little different with their vegetables this year.
We steam our veg. I prefer to cut them into long rectangle type shapes. Once they’re tender, add them to a roasting tray and drizzle honey and roasting style olive oil all over. Mix them up and cook for approximately 40 minutes. Add herbs, salt and pepper to taste.
This really adds an extra dimension to the roast dinner. Sometimes we make our own cheese sauce and other times we buy a fresh version from the supermarket. Watch out for the dried cheese sauce packets as often they have horrid ingredients and added sugar. To make our own we simply melt a LOT of extra mature cheddar in a pan with milk until it’s all melted and then add flour if we need to thicken. We pour it over cauliflower that has been steamed for 10 minutes, or until tender, then bake for 40 minutes.
Stuffing & Yorkshire puddings
I’m pretty sure it’s not really a roast if there’s no Yorkshire pudding? Both of these are vegetarian and absolutely delicious. Make your own or grab some from the store. As I said before, fresh is best. But you can also get frozen versions and packet mixes. Just keep an eye out on strange ingredients on the dried blends.
I’ll be sprinkling a spoonful of dried mint all over my roast dinner to finish it off. I used to get jars of mint sauce, but they’re full of sugar. Dried mint does the job perfectly. Some might argue mint is only ever to be used with lamb, but I disagree. It’s delicious on any roast, especially a veg roast.
Hopefully you’re now drooling at the very thought of my roast dinner, even without any meat in sight!