Christmas is here once again with all the trimmings: Excessive presents, mad rushes for last minute gifts, dogs and kids pulling the tree down faster than you can put it up, and lest we forget – The turkey.
Well that’s all ok if you’re a carnivore, but wait; what about us vegetarians? Well, here are a few ideas that will make your Christmas dinner traditional and enjoyable.
Firstly, a lot of people get caught up with the idea that they need a meat substitute which is all well and good, but let’s dispense with that notion, and instead concentrate on putting together a dinner that will taste great and satisfy your appetite, while still maintaining a traditional Christmas feel.
Main Course: Vegetarian Loaf with roast vegetables
Side Dishes: Buttermilk Biscuits, gravy
Preparing and cooking the starter
Roast chestnuts are a staple of Christmas and you’ll find them everywhere from street vendors at Christmas markets to the opening line of Christmas Song sung by Nat King Cole. What better start to your Xmas dinner?
What you’ll need:
- 24 Uncracked chestnuts (serves 4-6 people)
- A sharp knife
- A baking sheet
- 1 clean towel
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
- Carve an X on the flat part of each chestnut otherwise they’ll explode in the oven
- Bake for 30 minutes (you can tell they’re ready when pressing them breaks the shell easily)
- Store in the towel until ready to serve
When you’re ready to serve, squeeze the shells, peel them and remove the nut coating.
Preparing and cooking the Buttermilk Biscuits
These are a great side dish and are delicious served straight from the oven.
What you’ll need:
- 2 cups of whole wheat flour
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- 1/3 cup of butter
- 1/3 cup of buttermilk
- 1/3 cup of water
- Cookie Sheet
- Butter knife
- Rolling pin
- Cookie cutter or a large glass
- Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees
- Stir the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar together, then cut the butter into small chunks and add until the mix is course like meal
- Mix the buttermilk and water, add to the other ingredients and knead until the dough is smooth
- Roll the dough out on a flat surface, use some of the wheat flour to stop it sticking, and then roll it to about ½ inch thickness. Use the cookie cutter or glass to cut the shapes. Roll the remaining dough out and cut more biscuits
- Transfer the biscuits to the cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until a lovely golden brown
This recipe should give you 12 biscuits which are best served hot from the oven. If you need to reheat them you can pop them in the toaster or lightly grill them with butter.
Preparing and cooking the main course
This vegetarian loaf is full of goodness and provides a meal in itself. Of course some roast vegetables and delicious gravy to complement it rounds off a great main course.
What you’ll need:
- 1 cup of dry, well rinsed lentils
- 2 ½ cups of water
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
- ½ medium sized, diced onion
- 1 medium sized, diced carrot
- ½ teaspoon of pepper
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- ¾ cup of finely ground rolled oats
- ¾ cup of bread crumbs
- A selection of seasonal vegetables including, sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, peas and garlic. (These are totally your choice)
For the gravy:
- A leek
- 1 small onion
- 3 garlic buds
- 1 cube of Bouillon
- Saucepan with a lid
- Wooden spoon
- Small frying pan
- Large mixing bowl
- Blender of food processor
- Small bowl
- Put the lentils, water and salt in the saucepan, and then bring them to boil
- Reduce the heat, place the lid on and simmer for 45 minutes until most of the water is evaporated, and the lentils are soft with splitting skins
- Sauté the onion and carrot in oil for about 5 minutes, until soft
- Mix the lentils, onions, carrots, pepper, and optional soy sauce in the large bowl, and then mix in the ground oats and bread crumbs
- While the mix is still warm, shape the lentil mixture into your preferred shape. These can be frozen, stored in the fridge for up to 5 days, or cooked straight away
There are 2 Cooking options:
- Heat some oil in the frying pan, place the patties in the pan and fry on medium heat for 2 minutes each side, until golden brown.
- Set the oven to 400º and bake the patties on a greased baking sheet for 15 minutes until light brown.
The vegetables will have to be cooked separately and you’ll need a large roasting dish to cook them in. The cauliflower, peas and sprouts can be boiled for about 15-20 minutes – keep the water for the gravy.
- Slice the sweet potato, carrot and parsnip into your preferred shapes (carrots and parsnips are great speared)
- Set the oven to 200 degrees
- Cover the vegetables with a generous amount of olive oil and place in the oven for 45 minutes (check them after 30 minutes)
- Oil the broccoli and add to the roasting dish – roast it for 15 minutes max until crispy
No dinner is complete without gravy and for this dinner we’re going to make a Leek and Garlic gravy.
Preparing and cooking the gravy
- Slice the leek into thin rings
- Peel the garlic and crush or chop very fine
- Dice the onion
- Heat ½ a tablespoon of oil in a sauce pan on a medium heat
- Fry the garlic and onion until light brown then add the leek
- Add some of the water from the boiled vegetables (as much as you need for a generous serving) and the bouillon cube
- Stir thoroughly and simmer for 10 minutes
- Use a blitzer or food processor to liquidise the gravy completely
There you have a great Christmas dinner, full of flavour and goodness, plus your conscience will remain clear – safe in the knowledge that no animals were harmed in the making of this wholesome and satisfying meal.
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images: examiner.com, chefinyou.com