Vegetarian guests this Christmas? These 3 dinners are so good even meat-eaters will want some
There is no denying that traditionally, Christmas is a bit of a full-on meat fest.
But if you are a vegetarian yourself, or just have to provide a meat-free option for a friend or family member, there is no need to panic. These three totally YUM dishes will put the festive into your Christmas food – no meat needed.
1. Chunky nut roast with spicy tomato sauce
Packed with nuts, fruit, spices and loads of veg, this nut roast will make you forget all about the turkey.
- 40 g unsalted butter , plus extra for greasing
- 100 g quinoa
- 150 g onion squash
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 sticks of celery
- olive oil
- 200 g tinned or vac-packed chestnuts
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 pinch of sweet smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large field mushrooms
- 1 lemon
- 60 g fresh breadcrumbs
- 80 g dried cranberries
- 100 g dried apricots
- 100 g mixed nuts , such as walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts and brazil nuts
- 4 large free-range eggs
- 40 g mature Cheddar cheese
- For the salsa rossa picante:
- 2 fresh red chillies
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 small onion
- ½ bunch of fresh thyme
- 2 x 400 g tins of plum tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Grease a 1-litre loaf tin with a little butter, then line with greaseproof paper.
Cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions, then set aside to cool. Meanwhile, halve the squash, scoop out the seeds, then chop the flesh into rough 1cm chunks (you don’t need to peel the skin). Peel and roughly chop the onion. Peel and finely slice the garlic, then trim and roughly chop the celery.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, then add the chopped vegetables and crumble in the chestnuts. Pick in the rosemary leaves, discarding the stalks, then toss well. Add the cayenne, paprika and oregano. Season, stir well, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for around 15 minutes, or until softened slightly. Meanwhile, roughly chop the mushrooms, then add to the pan for the final 5 minutes of cooking.
Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the butter and grate in the zest from half the lemon. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, then stir in the cooled quinoa, breadcrumbs, dried fruit and nuts (feel free to bash up some of the larger nuts if you prefer a less chunky consistency). Crack in the eggs, then stir well to combine. Pop the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, then place in the hot oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until cooked through and set.
When there’s about 30 minutes to go, make the salsa rossa. Place a roasting tray on the hob over a medium-low heat. Prick the chillies and add to the tray with a lug of olive oil and the cinnamon stick. Peel and finely slice the garlic, peel and slice the onion into 8 wedges, then add them to the tray. Pick in most of the thyme leaves (save a few sprigs to one side), pour in the plum tomatoes and 1 tin’s worth of water, then stir well, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Season with salt and stir in the balsamic vinegar, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for around 20 minutes, or until thickened and reduced.
Once the salsa is ready, take 1 chilli out of the tray, then carefully halve, deseed and roughly chop it before returning it to the tray. Loosen the salsa with a splash of water, if needed, then pick out the extra chilli and cinnamon stick and put to one side. Remove the nut roast from the oven, then carefully turn it out, peeling away the greaseproof paper. Pop the nut roast into the tray and grate over the cheese. Place the cinnamon stick, chilli and reserved thyme sprigs on top, then return it to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until bubbling and golden. Serve with mashed potato and seasonal greens.
(Recipe via Jamieoliver.com)
2. Baked butternut squash with ricotta and spinach
The combination of creamy ricotta and sweet butternut squash is all sorts of amazing.
- 1 large butternut squash (about 1.2kg), halved lengthways
- ½ tsp caraway seeds, plus extra for sprinkling
- ½ tsp crushed red chillies
- 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 100g baby spinach
- 500g ricotta
- 4 tbsp grated parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), plus extra to serve
- 1 medium free-range egg, plus an extra yolk
- Bunch fresh sage leaves
Heat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/ gas 6.
Scoop out and discard the seeds from the squash. Sit the squash halves cut-side up in a roasting tin. Score the flesh in a crosshatch pattern with a knife and season.
Scatter over the caraway seeds, chillies and whole garlic cloves, then drizzle with olive oil.
Cover with foil and roast for 1-1½ hours until soft.
Set the garlic cloves aside, then scoop all but 2 tbsp of the squash flesh into a bowl, keeping it in pieces.
Gently stir through the spinach and season, then leave to cool.
Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins into a large bowl and mash into the remaining 2 tbsp squash using a fork. Add the ricotta, parmesan and some seasoning. Add the whole egg and extra yolk, stir well, then gently stir through the spinach and squash mixture.
Spoon into 4 x 200g individual gratin dishes. Top with the parmesan, scatter with extra caraway seeds and the sage leaves, then bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. Serve immediately.
(Recipe via Deliciousmagazine.co.uk)
3. Roasted Squash with Shallots, Grapes, and Sage
This little beat is SO tasty, it will totally dazzle your veggie (and non-veggie) dinner guests.
- 2 acorn squashes (about 1 1/2 pounds each)
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound mixed black and red grapes (about 3 cups)
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons packed small fresh sage leaves
- 1 1/3 cups cooked spelt, wheat berries, barley, or other whole grain
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squashes in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and reserve, if desired (see note, above).
Brush cut sides of squash halves with 1 teaspoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Place, cut sides down, on a rimmed baking sheet.
Combine grapes, shallot, and sage in a bowl and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper; place around squash.
Roast, stirring grape mixture once, until squash is tender and grape mixture is caramelized, 35 to 40 minutes.
To serve, fill squash with grain and grape mixture.
(Recipe via MarthaStewart.com)