Mum, did I tell you I’ve gone veggie? It’s every cook’s nightmare — the guests who won’t eat your turkey, here five top chefs save the day
- Due to environmental and health concerns, one in eight Brits no longer eat meat
- Five top chefs shared a selection of recipes for vegans and vegetarians
- Mary Berry says often people who don’t eat meat have to eat a plate of veg
- She shared the recipe to her special vegetable strudel with Roquefort
- BOSH chefs Henry Firth and Ian Theasby shared a vegan recipe
- They advise investing in dairy-free butter, cashew nuts and dark chocolates
Christmas Eve, and all that meticulous preparation is over. The schedule for tomorrow’s big feast is planned to the minute, and nothing can possibly go wrong. Or can it?
As they deposit gifts beneath the tree and settle on the sofa for It’s A Wonderful Life, several nieces, your brother and great-aunt Dottie announce they’ve ‘gone veggie’ this year, while a grandchild or two ups the stakes by declaring themselves newly vegan. Sorry! Didn’t we tell you?
Actually, the odds on having to produce a veggie lunch tomorrow are high — 2018 has been the year plant-based eating went mainstream. Driven by environmental and health concerns, one in eight of us now follows a vegetarian or vegan diet; more than half of us say we’ve cut down the amount of meat we eat, and a quarter of all British evening meals in 2018 contained no meat or fish. Veganism has boomed. This year Waitrose installed dedicated vegan sections in 134 of its stores, the number of vegans increased fourfold according to the Vegan Society — and The Great British Bake Off introduced its first Vegan Week.
Five renowned chefs shared their best recipes for Christmas guests who don’t eat meat. Elisabeth Luard (pictured) says the way she cooks has changed since a couple of her teen granddaughters turned vegetarian
For the Christmas cook, the good news is that veggie fare has become correspondingly chic. As Mary Berry says below, it is no longer confined to an omelette or a plate of spuds, but instead can hold its own against traditional festive meat and fish dishes. And Christmas food, with all those lovely spices, sauces and vegetable pickles — not to mention all that cheese — lends itself especially well to a vegetarian menu.
So read on for some life-saving veggie and vegan recipes from some of Britain’s best-loved cooks. These are so delicious, such people-pleasers, that even the diehard turkey fans will love them. Top tip: make double to allow for second helpings.
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Elisabeth Luard’s asparagus and pea tian
A couple of teen granddaughters turning vegetarian has changed the way I cook. Though not by much, as my usual style is Mediterranean: mostly grains, pulses and greens, with meat included sparingly — certainly not every day and usually as a flavouring rather than the main event.
But these days I take care to keep everything just a little bit separate — no sneaky scraps of ham in the bean-pot.Except at Christmas, when roast bird with all the trimmings is non-negotiable.
I do cook the potatoes in olive oil with rosemary, and make up for a shortage of sausage stuffings with mushrooms cooked in garlic and butter, carrots in cream with parsley, sprouts with unreasonable amounts of butter and pepper.
Elisabeth suggests impressing vegetarian guests this Christmas with a asparagus and pea tian (pictured) from Provence
All the same, a feast isn’t a feast without a centrepiece, a dish specially prepared for those who don’t eat meat but that everyone else will want to share.
This is a quick and easy recipe from Provence which, as with so many traditional dishes, takes its name from the container in which it’s cooked — a shallow earthenware dish called a tian. Feel free to replace the asparagus and peas with blanched winter vegetables such as diced carrot, parsnip, root-artichoke, young turnip with its greens — plus a handful of chopped parsley and spring onion.
- 500g thin green asparagus
- 250g freshly podded peas
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 5 large eggs
- 2 tbsp creme fraiche
- 150ml full-cream milk
- 2 heaped tbsp grated cheese (cantal or cheddar)
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- Salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 180c/fan 160c/gas 4.
2. Choose a round shallow dish, 25cm in diameter. If you have an earthenware tian or cazuela, the Spanish equivalent, even better. Rub the dish with the cut side of a garlic clove and then with oil.
3. Fork up the eggs with the cheese, creme fraiche and milk and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Chop half the asparagus spears into pea-sized lengths and reserve the rest.
4. Stir the peas and chopped asparagus into the egg mix and tip into baking dish. Arrange the rest of the asparagus spears on top in a wheel, heads to the middle, poking them down until submerged by egg.
5. Bake for 20 min or until egg is still trembling but no longer liquid. Serve at room temperature, with chunks of hot baguette.
Excerpts from Elisabeth Luard’s new cartoon cookbook, Cookstrip, can be found at unbound.com/books/cookstrip
Mary Berry (pictured) advises cooks to serve something more special than an omelette or plate of vegetables for vegetarians this Christmas
Mary Berry’s vegetable strudel with Roquefort
Often people who don’t eat meat have to rely on an omelette or a plate of the vegetables you are serving with the turkey at Christmas, but I think it’s nice to cook something a little more special. This is so delicious, we often treat ourselves to it, too, at some point over the holidays. It’s a great recipe for using up any leftover cheese — Stilton or mature cheddar, for example — but it’s important to use a cheese with a strong flavour. We prefer Roquefort.
- 6 sheets filo pastry
- 50g (2oz) butter, melted
- 75g (3oz) Roquefort cheese, sliced
- 1 onion, sliced into thin wedges
- 1 yellow pepper, deseeded, cut into 2.5cm (1in) pieces
- 2 red peppers, deseeded, cut into 2.5cm (1in) pieces
- 3 courgettes, trimmed and cut into 2.5cm (1in) pieces
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 200c/fan 180c/gas 6. Preheat a baking sheet to very hot. Heat a nonstick griddle or large frying pan until very hot.
1. Mix the vegetables together with the oil in a polythene bag or bowl. Toss so they are evenly coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Char-grill the vegetables on the hot griddle until they are coloured and tender. Set aside to cool.
Mary Berry suggests using left over cheese to make a delicious vegetable strudel with Roquefort (pictured)
3. Place two filo pastry sheets lengthways on a work surface so they are slightly overlapping, to make a rectangle measuring about 35×33cm (14×13 in). Brush with melted butter and place another two sheets on top widthways, again slightly overlapping. Repeat with another layer, brushing butter in between.
4. Spoon half the cooled char-grilled vegetables over the top third of the pastry about 7.5cm (3in) from the edge and 5cm (2in) from the sides. Arrange the cheese over the roasted vegetables and top with the rest of the vegetables, so the cheese is a layer in the middle of them.
5. Fold the base and the sides of the pastry in, and roll up to a sausage shape. Brush strudel with butter.
6. Carefully transfer to the hot baking sheet in the preheated oven, and bake for 20–25 min or until golden brown and crisp on top and underneath.
7. Serve hot in slices with a dressed green salad and garlic bread.
Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection (£25, Headline).
And if they’re vegan…
Ian Theasby and Henry Firth (pictured left to right) advise offering Pringles, Turkish delight or dark chocolate as nibbles for vegans
Ian Theasby and Henry Firth, known as BOSH!, are the Jamie Olivers of the vegan world. This is their Portobello Mushroom Wellington.
So one of your guests tomorrow is vegan? Don’t panic. All you need are a few extra things in your trolley during today’s last-minute shop.
Some dairy-free butter to put over carrots and green veg, for example. A packet of silken tofu for vegan ‘scrambled eggs’ (add turmeric, pepper and black salt). A big bag of cashew nuts for a more-ish festive cream to pour over vegan mince pies (soak the nuts overnight, then blend with a dash of icing sugar and brandy).
Top vegan nibbles tip: Pringles, most brands of Turkish delight and most dark chocolates are all vegan.
As to roasties, all it takes to satisfy a vegan is to do them in olive oil; ditto the gravy. Make a separate vegan batch with red wine, Marmite, mustard and tomato puree. And have a crack at this Portobello Mushroom Wellington . . .
- Olive oil, for drizzling
- 3 tbsp oil from sun-dried tomato jar
- 4 long shallots
- 8 cloves garlic
- 4 sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 carrot
- 1 stick celery
- 8 sprigs thyme
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- 2 sprigs sage
- 500g chestnut mushrooms
- 200ml red wine
- 2½ tbsp cranberry sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 200g chestnuts
- 200g pecans
- 100g dried breadcrumbs
- 2 x 320g pre-rolled sheets plant-based puff pastry
- 2 tbsp plant-based milk
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
1. Preheat oven to 180c/160c/ Gas 4. Lay ten mushrooms in a row on foil. Add olive oil, salt and pepper, lay 4 sprigs of thyme, 2 sprigs rosemary, 3 cloves garlic and a sprig sage on top. Wrap in foil. Bake for 30 min.
2. Finely slice shallots. Finely grate carrot. Finely dice celery. Finely slice tomatoes. Finely grate garlic. Pick the leaves off 4 sprigs thyme, 2 sprigs rosemary, 1 sprig sage and finely chop. Blitz 300g of mushrooms in food processor to form mince. Blitz 100g chestnuts and 200g pecans to form a meal. Chop remaining chestnuts.
BOSH! suggest serving a Portobello Mushroom Wellington (pictured) to vegan guests
4. Warm sun-dried tomato oil over medium heat. Add shallots and fry for 5 min. Add tomatoes and garlic and stir for 1 min. Add carrots, celery, rosemary, thyme, sage and stir for 5 min. Add minced mushrooms. Cook on high heat for 10 min. Pour wine and cranberry sauce into pan, add bay leaf, simmer for 7 min until most of the liquid has evaporated. Turn down heat, add nutmeg and cinnamon and stir for 1 min.
5. Put the roasted mushrooms on a plate and pour liquid from foil into a bowl. Mix in breadcrumbs and nut meal. Add the mushroom mince, remove bay leaf, fold together to form a thick dough. Leave to cool.
6. Lay sheet of puff pastry on baking sheet. Spread half mushroom mix lengthways down middle of pastry, leaving 5cm gap both sides. Place two lines of mushrooms down the middle; you will have 5 lines in total. Layer the rest of mix over top. Shape into a long, rectangular mound.
7. Brush plant-based milk round pastry edge. Lay second pastry sheet over the filling and press down well. Use fork to crimp edges of the pastry to firmly seal the wellington.
8. Score a criss-cross pattern on top. Pierce air vents in top. Place in fridge for 20 min. Bake wellington for 25 min. Remove from oven, mix maple syrup and plant-based milk to make a glazing liquid and brush wellington. Bake for 25 min until golden.
BOSH! by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby (£20, HQ Harper Collins).
Prue Leith’s luxe brussels
Sadly, the mere sight of sprouts is often enough to prompt a shake of the head and ‘no, thanks’ — so here’s a sprout-hater’s recipe from my new cookbook, Prue.
It’s brilliant for Christmas lunch because it’s not visually recognisable as sprouts — it’s made with a mixture of sprouts, beans and spinach. But almost any veg mix is good: leeks, runner beans, broad beans, cabbage and small courgettes all work well if you cook them separately and lightly.
Prue Leith (pictured) says veg mix is ideal for Christmas lunch and can be prepared in advance
Best of all, you can prepare the dish the day before and reheat it at the last minute in the microwave. I promise you it will look and taste fresh, bright and delicious. Last time I made this, I only had frozen veg to hand and it worked fine. And if there is any over you can have it with poached eggs on top for supper.
Wild garlic isn’t available until the spring but it’s not necessary anyway. I grow it in a damp corner of the garden and it just happened to be perfect when I was testing the dish!
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 30g butter
- 50g Brussels sprouts, minus tough outer leaves
- 180g baby spinach leaves
- A handful of wild garlic leaves, plus a few extra to garnish (optional)
- 250g frozen peas
- 300ml double cream
- ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to season
1. In your smallest saucepan, fry the garlic gently in the butter until foaming and smelling good, but don’t let it get brown. Remove from the heat but leave in the pan.
Prue advises eating any left over luxe brussels (pictured) with poached eggs for supper
2. Boil the sprouts in plenty of salted water until just tender (about 5 min), then drain and swish them under the cold tap briefly to halt the cooking. While they are still pretty hot, decant into a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Spread the chopped sprouts on a clean tea towel to steam dry.
3. In the pan you used for the sprouts, cook the spinach leaves and wild garlic, if using, with a teacup of water over a medium-low heat, turning them until they are all wilted. Drain and rinse under cold water, then dry and chop roughly. Now put the peas into the saucepan, pour boiling water over them, wait a minute for them to thaw, then drain.
4. Pour cream into the garlic pan. Add nutmeg, a good few twists of the pepper mill and a generous pinch of salt. Mix the three veg together and put into a microwaveable serving dish. Pour the garlicky cream over the top and fork the top a bit. Cover and refrigerate if not serving right away.
5. When ready to eat, microwave for 3 min, forking them over halfway through.
Prue, by Prue Leith (£25, Pan Macmillan)
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