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Recipe: Vegetarian festive flavours for Christmas

Bored of beef? Tired of turkey? Why not be REALLY adventurous this year and opt for a vegetarian menu?

Christmas is the perfect time to enjoy great food – whether you are treating yourself or sharing with friends, family or neighbours. And rather than fret about the one or two vegetarians at the table, why not embrace the unusual and make a meat-free feast. You don’t have to compromise on flavour – a lot can be made in advance – and it’ll give guests a real talking point for the rest of the festive season.

As always, the Vegetarian Society have a host of ideas and all their recipes are available free online. We’ve picked our favourites below.

Lynne Elliot, Chief Executive of the Vegetarian Society, said: “We have created a host of brand new recipes for you this year. To make sure everyone can join in and try something tasty, these recipes cater for both vegetarians and vegans. Some are gluten-free and there’s also a delicious dessert that is vegan and raw. You’re sure to find something you’ll love.”

Here is a three-course vegetarian Christmas menu that will impress everyone, whether they are carnivores or herbivores. Why not mix things up this year and give these recipes a try?

Starter: Pea and Spinach Soup with Beetroot Swirl (can be made in advance)

A silky, goodness-packed soup that looks really festive.

Serves: 4
Preparation: 5 mins
Cooking: 30 mins

Ingredients

For the soup:
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 3 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 small potato (around 130g), peeled and chopped
• 1250ml vegan vegetable stock*
• 100g frozen peas
• 150g frozen spinach
• Salt and pepper

For the beetroot swirl:
• 1 cooked beetroot
• 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
• ½ tsp smoked paprika
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 2 tbsp water

To garnish:
• Soya cream (optional)

In a large pan, gently fry the onion in the oil for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and potato. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the stock to the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked. While the soup cooks, put the ingredients for the beetroot swirl into a blender and blend until smooth. Set the finished swirl aside and rinse the jug of the blender thoroughly.

Add the peas and spinach to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Let the soup cool for a few moments, then blend until smooth. Season to taste, reheat if necessary and serve in warm bowls with a swirl of the beetroot mixture and soya cream if desired.

Note: Will keep for three days in the fridge. Can be frozen for up to three months.

Main: Chestnut and butter bean wellington with (vegan) Christmas gravy (both can be made in advance)

Christmas Gravy

This smooth, rich gravy is easy to make in advance.

Serves: 4
Preparation: 5 mins
Cooking: 25 mins

• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tsp mustard seeds
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 stick celery, chopped
• 5 cherry tomatoes
• 600ml vegan vegetable stock*
• 2 tsp cranberry sauce
• 3 tbsp vegan red wine
• 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
• Salt and pepper

Gently fry the onion in the oil in a large, deep pan for 5 minutes. Add the mustard seeds, garlic, celery and tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock, cranberry sauce, wine and herbs, season and simmer for 15 minutes. Purée with a stick blender until smooth.

Note: Will keep for up to three days in the fridge. Can be frozen for up to three months.

Chestnut and Butter Bean Wellington

Wrapped in golden pastry, this vegan bake is packed with flavour.

Serves: 4-6
Preparation: 25 mins
Cooking: 1hr 15 mins

Ingredients

For the pastry:
• 500g vegan puff or shortcrust pastry, in a block
• Flour, for rolling out

For the inner filling:
• 50g sun-dried tomatoes (oil reserved) drained and chopped
• 1 onion, chopped
• 300g cooked chestnuts, mashed
• 400g tin butter beans, drained and mashed
• 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
• 50g ready-to-eat prunes, chopped
• 1 tsp mild curry powder
• 100g chopped mixed nuts
• Salt and pepper

For the outer filling:
• 400g mixed mushrooms, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 2 tsp soy sauce
• 200g frozen spinach
• 1 lemon, juice and ½ zest only

To glaze:
• 2 tbsp soya milk

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle measuring 40cm x 30cm. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

To make the inner filling, heat a little of the sun-dried tomato oil (save some for later) in your largest frying pan and gently fry the onion for 5 minutes. Add the remaining inner filling ingredients, except the seasoning, and cook for another 10 minutes over a low heat, stirring often. The mixture should be fairly dry and hold together. Season to taste and set aside to cool.

To make the outer filling, use the rest of the tomato oil to fry the mushrooms and garlic for 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce, spinach, the lemon zest and juice. Cook for 10 minutes, or until all of the moisture has evaporated. Allow to cool.

To assemble the Wellington, line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and transfer the pastry to it. With the long edge facing you, use the back of a table knife to lightly mark the pastry in half horizontally, giving two long rectangles. Place the inner filling in the top rectangle, leaving a 3cm border around the edges, and form it into a sausage shape. Pat the mushroom and spinach layer all over the filling to form the outer filling.

Brush the pastry borders with a little water. Fold the lower half of the pastry over to enclose the fillings and press all around to seal, then crimp the ends with a fork. Brush with the soya milk and bake for 45 minutes or until golden.

Note: This can be baked and chilled for up to three days or frozen for up to three months. If frozen, allow to thaw and then thoroughly reheat.

Dessert: Fruity Trifle with Cashew Cream (can be made 24 hours in advance)

These individual desserts are creamy, fruity, crunchy, vegan and raw.

Serves: 4
Preparation: 40 mins

Ingredients

• 70g cashew nuts
• ¼ tsp mixed spice
• 4 blood oranges
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• 10 ready-to-eat prunes
• 2 tbsp cacao powder
• 3 tbsp date syrup
• 400g frozen summer fruits, thawed and drained

To make the cashew cream, finely chop 20g of the cashews with the mixed spice in a food processor and set aside. Juice one of the oranges and pulse half the juice with the remaining nuts and 1 tsp of the vanilla extract until smooth. If it’s too thick, add a little extra juice. Set the cashew cream aside.

For the chocolate sauce, blend 3 prunes, the cacao powder, the remaining vanilla extract, the juice of one orange and 2 tbsp of the date syrup in the food processor until smooth. Set aside.

Pick 12 whole fruits from the summer fruits and set aside. Split the rest of the summer fruits into two portions. Blend one portion of the fruit in the food processor with the remaining prunes and 1 tbsp date syrup. Set aside.

To make the compote, simply push the other portion of the summer fruits through a sieve and retain the juice, discarding the pulp in the sieve.

Peel and segment the remaining two oranges with a sharp knife.

Assemble the trifles by dividing the whole summer fruits between four serving glasses. Gently layer the cashew cream, chocolate sauce, orange segments and fruit purée on top, until the glasses are full. Finish with chopped nuts and a drizzle of compote.

Note: Can be stored in the fridge (without the compote and nuts) for 24 hours.

Fact file

The Vegetarian Society is a national charity that influences, inspires and supports people to embrace and maintain a vegetarian lifestyle. Being a vegetarian is a choice that is kinder to animals, to people and to our planet. www.vegsoc.org

Festive Flavours – the Vegetarian Society’s Christmas recipe collection is available free of charge online at vegsoc.org/christmas or by calling 0161 925 2000.

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Editor in chief Suzi Dixon studied at Bournemouth university, went away for a while to work at The Daily Telegraph, then moved back to the sunny South coast for a quiet (er) life. Bournemouth News & Info is her website and she is assisted by the fabulous Fred From France in all things geeky and technical. Hire us to make your website, too, if you like.

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