Photo by Alexander Mils/Unsplash
The range of plant-based options available in stores has increased dramatically in recent years. In years gone by, the options for store-bought plant-based Christmas foods were much more limited. This was inconvenient but encouraged lots of creativity and innovation in the plant-based community.
If you enjoy cooking and want to take up the challenge, there are many delicious, old-school vegan and plant-based dishes that are worth revisiting. Many of the traditional side dishes served at Christmas dinner, such as roasted or steamed vegetables, are vegan anyway, but what about the main event?
We have tried to include some dishes to replace the traditional roast, as well as dessert and snack options. We hope you have fun preparing and eating these delicious meat-free foods.
Nut Roast is an absolute classic. For anyone who has never tried it, imagine a cross between stuffing and meat loaf. Growing up vegetarian through the 80s and 90s, I often was often served this for lunch on Sundays and special occasions.
It also used to be a running joke that the only vegan/veggie option available in most restaurants, if any, would be nut roast. That said, it’s absolutely delicious and healthy too.
It is often made with a mixture of blended nuts, herbs, vegetables and dried fruits, and is served with gravy and roasted vegetables. It can be flavored different ways depending on what herbs and spices are added to it, which means it’s very versatile. Try adding taco spice mix for a totally different but equally delicious experience.
Because it’s jam packed with nuts, it's full of protein, and adding peanut butter can give it a very rich flavour. We think it’s time this classic dish made a comeback.
This rich and hearty dish is a plant-based variant of beef wellington, which is basically a steak wrapped in pastry and baked.
Its plant-based alternative is flavored with super savory ingredients, including oyster or porcini mushrooms, thyme, sage, rosemary, onion, celery, carrot, tofu and lentils. This is wrapped in a light puff pastry and baked.
Mushroom wellington makes an ideal main course for a plant-based or meat-free Christmas lunch, as it is savory, rich and substantially satisfying.
Steak, ale and mushroom pie
This is a classic savory pie that is easily made meat-free. The traditional steak can be replaced with TVP (textured vegetable protein) or seitan to closely replicate the original dish.
If you haven't tried TVP before, it is a type of dried soy protein that usually comes in ground form, small chunks or steaks. For this dish, you’ll need the chunk variety. Seitan is also a good option as it has the dense and chewy texture of steak.
This is stewed together with flavorsome mushrooms, vegan dark ale or stout, and onions into a thick rich gravy.Then, it is baked in a shortcrust pie case. This is a dish that both meat-eaters and plant-based people will love.
Stuffed seitan roast
The possibilities with this one are huge. Not only does seitan have a very meaty texture, but it can also be created at home with a few ingredients and a little bit of effort. By making your own seitan, you get to decide what goes in it and how it tastes.
If you would like to make seitan from scratch, you will need a bag of vital wheat gluten. This is the integral ingredient that creates the chewy, meaty texture. It is often mixed with veggie stock and chickpea flour, and kneaded to form a dough. It can then be wrapped around the stuffing of your choice and steamed or baked.
We would recommend a stuffing of chestnuts, cranberries, onion, carrot and herbs. Serve with onion gravy for a delicious turkey alternative.
Gravy is very quick and easy to make, and can be flavored to your own specific taste. The simplest plant-based gravy is made from veggie stock cooked with a little flour or cornstarch to thicken. There’s no need to stop there though.
Try caramelizing onions or mushrooms, and adding them to the gravy. You can also add herbs, such as sage or bay leaves, and experiment with a dash of mustard, fenugreek, tomato puree, dark ale, port wine or balsamic vinegar.
Stuffing is also an easy recipe to adapt. Traditionally, it would contain chicken stock, but this can be easily exchanged for vegetable stock. It is often made with a combination of onion, celery, stale or toasted bread, herbs, seasoning, and stock.
Stuffing can be baked as a side dish or used to stuff seitan roasts, squashes or peppers, or individually wrapped in pastry for party snacks. Feel free to add a whole host of festive additions such as cranberries, figs or chestnuts.
(Photo by Jonathan Farber/Unsplash)
What would the holiday season be without mince pies? In centuries gone by, mince pies were made of a mixture of ground meat, fruit, brandy and spices. Though the meat is rarely included these days, some store-bought mince pies still contain a type of beef fat called suet.
If you would like to try making your own mincemeat, you can buy vegetable suet or make your own by freezing then shredding vegetable shortening. This can be mixed with dried fruit, almonds, brown sugar, brandy (or rum) and spices to make a very tasty meat-free mincemeat.
Brandy sauce is the perfect accompaniment to Christmas pudding. Traditional brandy sauce recipes often contain a mixture of cream, flour, butter, sugar and brandy. This can be easily converted by trading the butter and cream for plant-based alternatives.
For a particularly flavorsome brandy sauce, try using cashew cream and replacing one-third the flour for almond flour.
A sweet, boozy, fruit-filled Christmas pudding is the perfect way to wrap up Christmas dinner. Many store bought Christmas pudding may contain beef suet and eggs. If you would like to make your own, you simply exchange the beef suet for an equal portion of vegetable shortening.
There are many different substitutes available for eggs, but one of the simplest and cheapest is flax "eggs." The eggs simply act as a binder in this recipe and sticky flax seeds make the ideal replacement. The easiest recipe for flax eggs is 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds mixed with 2 ½ tablespoons of water. This can be added to mixtures as a direct substitute for egg.
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