Catering for vegetarians, coeliacs and friends and family with a dairy intolerance at Christmas can be quite a daunting prospect. So I’ve created four straightforward dishes that will have your main course well and truly sorted for the entire family. All you need to do is add some turkey and pigs in blankets for the meat eaters and you won’t be left feeling like you’re having to cook a host of different meals to keep everyone happy! The centrepiece of this Christmas feast is the herb nut roast, which is an explosion of tastes and doubles up as a fabulous alternative to stuffing. Vegetable side dishes of brussels, carrots, leeks and cranberries roasted with balsamic vinegar and garlic and mashed sweet potatoes will be sure to impress. And the finishing touch of mushroom and tarragon gravy really adds that little bit of Christmas wow.
The nut roast can be prepared and cooked in advance, as can the vegetables and gravy, which really takes the pressure off.
As always, try and use organic produce where possible. Organic nuts are expensive but they are well worth the investment. One small adjustment to the nut roast will make the entire meal vegan, simply exclude the two eggs. This will mean that the nut roast is a likely to crumble so be particularly careful when cutting it into slices.
HERBED NUT ROAST
- 2 tablespoons mild coconut oil, plus more for the pan
- 6 tablespoons pine nuts
- ½ cup of cashews
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 175g butternut squash, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- salt and pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 125g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
- 2 fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmet
- 5 tablespoons rolled oats
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- ½ tablespoon chia seeds
- 2 eggs
- Mushroom Gravy (see recipe below)
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Oil a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and line it with greaseproof paper. Place the pine nuts and cashews on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven for about 10 minutes. They should look golden and give off a toasty aroma when you take them out. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, place a large nonstick pan over medium heat and heat 2 tablespoons oil. Sauté the celery, squash, and carrot in the oil with lots of salt and pepper. When the celery has started to turn translucent, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Finally, add the herbs and nutmeg and stir well.
- Place half the nuts in a food processor with the oats and whiz up as fine as they will go. Coarsely chop the remaining nuts, so they aren’t too chunky, then add these and the ground nut mixture to the pan. Add the flour, chia seeds and eggs and mix well.
- Press into the prepared loaf pan, cover with foil, and bake for 35 minutes. Take the foil off and bake for another 15 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a cool rack for 15 minutes (it will still be nice and hot). Take it out of the pan and cut into slices; be gentle, as it can crumble. Prepare and serve with Mushroom Gravy.
The Mushrooms and tamari give deeply savory flavors to this gravy. Sharpened with a little mustard and made aromatic with tarragon, it makes Sunday lunch a real treat. This makes enough for the Herbed Nut Roast, but if you like lots of gravy, double the quantities here.
- 15g dried porcini mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons mild coconut oil, more if needed
- 125g chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- Put the dried porcini in a bowl with 2 cups boiling water and soak for at least 10 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a nonstick frying pan over high heat. Add the fresh mushrooms and let them color on both sides, then reduce the heat to low, add the garlic, and season. Scoop the porcini out of the water, finely chop, and add to the pan, reserving the soaking liquid.
- Once the garlic is translucent, add the tarragon, 2 cups mushroom soaking liquid (avoiding any grit from the bottom of the bowl), and the mustard. Mix the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water to a paste, add to the pan and let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until it has a nice consistency. Stir in the tamari.
- Brussel sprouts, trimmed
- 3 leeks, sliced
- 3 carrots, sliced
- 1 cup of cranberries
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of mild coconut oil
Place all the vegetables in a baking tray, add the garlic and coconut oil before drizzling with balsamic vinegar. Place in an oven at 220 degrees and allow the coconut oil to melt before removing to toss all the vegetables ensuring they are coated with oil. Return to the oven for 25-30 minutes or until brussels are tender.
SWEET POTATO MASH
- 1 medium sized sweet potato per person
- 1 tablespoon oat cream per person
- 1 glove garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast per person
- salt and pepper to taste
Peel and boil the sweet potatoes until tender. Drain and smash the sweet potatoes with a masher or fork. Add the oat cream, garlic, nutritional yeast and salt and pepper and mix well. Cover to retain heat until you are ready to serve with the nut roast, roasted vegetables and gravy.