A vegetarian family needn’t miss out on all the gastronomic delights of a roast lunch, but at the same time, we want to find a balance between cooking time in the kitchen and relaxing and enjoying the other aspects of a family Christmas Day. I’ve come up with a Christmas Day lunch schedule which can easily be adapted to suit the “keep it simple” cooks as well as those who enjoy a culinary challenge.
Things to make ahead of Christmas Day
- I usually make a Christmas Cake in November which the children enjoy decorating on Christmas Eve. Alternatively, you can buy one.
- The Christmas pudding – a couple of weeks before, or buy one
- The cranberry sauce – either a few days before or it can be frozen a few weeks before
- Mince pies – a day or so before
The Christmas Day Lunch Menu
- Butternut squash soup sprinked with mixed seeds and a swirl of cream
- Delia Smith’s cheese and parsnip roulade with sage and onion stuffing.
- Roast potatoes, sprouts and carrots with gravy and/or cranberry sauce
- Christmas pudding with brandy sauce or custard
- Mince pies
- Coffee & chocolates
If you want to spend less time in the kitchen there are many items which can be bought from the supermarket without losing too much of that “home-made” taste, for example:
- sage & onion stuffing
- cranberry sauce
- Christmas pudding,
- brandy sauce or custard,
- mince pies
- even the vegetables although I always think these taste so much better freshly prepared.
Preparing the Christmas Day Lunch
Getting-up time will of course vary among families but I’m going to assume that most busy mums are up around 7 am (those with young children may of course be forced up much earlier!). The initial period of the morning should be about relaxing, having a nice warm shower, a cup of tea, meditate if you do so, ready to start the day’s preparations by about 8 am.
- 8 am Time to get busy. Peel and prepare all the veg, including the butternut squash for the soup and the parsnips for the roulade (preferably with the help of partner and children – peeling before pressies!); put the carrots, sprouts and parsnips in a pan or steamer ready for cooking; make the stuffing (either from scratch as per the roulade recipe or from a packet); make the soup.
- 9.30 am Take a break – open some pressies, have a coffee and a well-earned mince pie.
- 10.00 Set the table; don’t forget the crackers & trimmings. This is one of the most satisfying aspects of a Christmas lunch, so take your time and cherish the creation of a beautiful table. Again, the children will enjoy helping with this, assuming you can tear them away from their presents.
- 10.30 Prepare the roulade ready for baking; make the cranberry sauce if you haven’t already done so; prepare the gravy.
- 11.00 Start steaming the Christmas pudding – leave it on a gentle simmer and don’t foret to check the water from time to time to make sure it doesn’t dry out. If you intend to make brandy sauce, now is a good time to do it, or prepare/make the custard.
- 11.30 Have another well-deserved break and a glass of sherry or champagne before the final flurry of activity.
- 12.15 Put the roulade in the oven to cook. Steam all the vegetables and prepare the parnsnips ready for the roulade; heat the soup; finish putting the roulade together when it’s cooked.
- 12.45 Time to get all the family in for the final dishing-up
- 1.00 pm Enjoy a delicious Christmas lunch. Bon appetit!