Although I am a meat-eater and enjoy a traditional roast I can assure disbelieving friends and acquaintances that going without meat on Christmas day does not leave me feeling deprived and under-nourished. The following solutions are appropriate for those who are planning to cater for one vegetarian member of the family or a vegetarian guest as well as those who, like myself, are happy to sit down to a full vegetarian meal this Christmas.
Solutions for the Vegetarian Christmas Main Course
As this is a special day a nut roast is the most obvious solution for the main course even though, contrary to popular belief, vegetarians rarely eat nut roast. A nut roast need not be bland, however, and there are several recipes available in books and magazines that stimulate the taste buds. Try , for example, Aldo Zilli’s Macadamia and Brazil Nut Roast with Porcini Mushroom Gravy or a nutty vegetable strudel using filo pastry and a cranberry and orange sauce. Rose Elliott’s Brazil Nut Roast En Croute using puff pastry is another surefire winner. These flavoursome recipes are not just solutions they are delights in their own right.
They also have three main advantages for solving the Christmas vegetarian problem. Firstly they can all be cooked in advance and frozen before the day. Secondly the recipes can be adapted to produce smaller or scaled down proportions depending on the number of vegetarians and, thirdly, they are all very filling as well as nourishing so that leaves plenty of room on the plate for the accompaniments.
Accompaniments for the Vegetarian Christmas Main Course
If you are anything like me then you will be enjoying and savouring the accompaniments to the main course as much as the centrepiece. The good news when catering for a vegetarian is that vegetarians really appreciate all the trimmings. If you are spared the worry of having to roast a bird then you will have a little more time to spice up the vegetable accompaniments. To save time on the day it’s a good idea to be prepared in advance so bread sauce and onion gravy that you have cooked beforehand can be then frozen ready for the big day.
For the other vegetables try roasting the potatoes in butter and olive oil after stuffing them when par-boiled with bay and thyme. Brussel sprouts are more appetising when pan-fried in butter and oil with baby onions whereas vichy carrots are a tasty variation on the traditional form of preparation. Vegetarians are also unlikely to say no to cranberry sauce or some sage and onion stuffing. If there is still room on your plate then spicy red cabbage using red wine vinegar provides a vivid slash of colour.
Reassurance for Vegetarian Christmas Catering
Therefore with some good preparation in advance and a little imagination in the preparation fears of catering for a vegetarian at Christmas can be set aside. With the nature of our lives today many of us meat-eaters will have had ample opportunities at staff parties and social evenings to tuck into a Christmas meal and might be prepared to sample some variation on the day itself. Elderly members of the family may beg to differ I am sure but the key might be to make every other part of the day as traditional as possible.
The most valuable piece of advice and the main solution to the problem is to be aware that vegetarians love the trimmings, love the accompaniments, love the pudding (suet-free of course) and are not setting out to pour cold water on the Christmas celebrations.