There are many days throughout the year when it’s easy to be vegan, but 25 December isn’t one of them. Pigs in blankets, honey-glazed hams and brine-soaked turkeys... the traditional Christmas smorgasbord is traditionally an array of animal products.
Christmas and veganism may seem go together like chalk and cheese, but that doesn’t necessarily render all vegans grouchy Grinch-types crying into their carrots. Sure, in some households, the vegan options may be limited – but that ends now.
Although Christmas plans might be under threat due to the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, there is no reason why you can’t still cook up a vegan feast for your own household. Even if you’re a house of one.
We spoke to the plant-based chefs behind popular YouTube channel BOSH!, Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, to find out how to cook the perfect vegan Christmas Day meal – and their recipes are just as jolly as your grandma’s Christmas pudding.
Instead of roast turkey... try mushroom wellington
This dish combines earthy herbs with cranberries and chestnuts, resulting in a hearty meat alternative. Spices like nutmeg and cinnamon intertwine with rosemary and thyme to give it a festive flavour.
Olive oil, for drizzling
3 tbsp oil from sun dried tomato jar
4 long shallots
8 cloves garlic
4 sun dried tomatoes
1 stick celery
8 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs sage
500g chestnut mushrooms
200ml red wine
2 ½ tbsp cranberry sauce
1 bay leaf
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
100g dried breadcrumbs
2 320g pre-rolled sheets plant-based puff pastry
2 tbsp plant-based milk
1 tbsp maple syrup
Preheat oven to 180°C. Roast your mushrooms: Lay 10 nice-looking chestnut mushrooms in a row down the middle of a sheet of tin foil. Drizzle over a little olive oil, sprinkle over a little salt and pepper, lay four sprigs of thyme, two sprigs of rosemary, three cloves of garlic and a sprig of sage on top of the mushrooms. Wrap the mushrooms up tightly in the tin foil, put the parcel in the roasting tin, put the roasting tin in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Prepare your filling: Whilst the mushrooms are roasting, peel and finely slice the long shallots. Peel and finely grate the carrot. Finely dice the celery. Finely slice the sun-dried tomatoes. Peel and finely grate the garlic. Pick the leaves off four sprigs of thyme, two sprigs rosemary, one small sprig of sage and finely chop. Blitz 300g of the mushrooms in the food processor to form a mince. Blitz 100g chestnuts and 200g pecans in the food processor to form a meal. Roughly chop the remaining chestnuts.
Warm the sun-dried tomato oil over a medium heat in the deep-frying pan. Add the shallots to the pan and fry for five minutes until soft. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and garlic and stir for one minute. Add the carrots, celery, rosemary, thyme and sage to the pan and stir for four to five minutes. Add the minced mushrooms to the pan, increase the heat to high, and cook for 10 minutes until well sweated. Pour the red wine and cranberry sauce into the pan, add the bay leaf, simmer for six to seven minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Turn the heat down, add the nutmeg and cinnamon and stir for one minute.
Take the roasting mushrooms out of the oven and open the foil. Put the mushrooms on a plate and pour the liquid from the tin foil into the mixing bowl. Pour the breadcrumbs and nut meal into a mixing bowl and mix them together with a spoon. Pour the mushroom mince into the mixing bowl, remove the bay leaf, fold everything together to form a thick, textured dough and leave to cool to room temperature.
Prepare your wellington: Lay one sheet of puff pastry out on a baking sheet. Spread half the mushroom mixture lengthways down the middle of the pastry. Use your hands to mould it into a rectangle shape with a flat top, leaving at least a five centimetre gap on both sides. Place two neat lines of mushrooms down the middle of the mixture, you will have five lines in total. Layer the rest of the mixture over the top, encasing the mushrooms. Smooth and shape into a neat, long, rectangular mound.
Using a pastry brush or your finger, brush a little of the plant-based milk around the exposed pastry edge. Lay the second pastry sheet over the filling and press it all down well, ensuring there are no air bubbles. Seal the edges by pushing down all the way round the filling with your fingers. Trim any excess pastry from the edges, making sure you leave a 1½ cm crust around the base of the wellington. Put the excess pastry to one side for later. Use a fork to crimp all around the edges of the pastry to firmly seal the wellington in a decorative fashion.
Take a sharp knife and score a criss-cross pattern across the top of the whole wellington. Pierce a few air vents in the top of the pastry. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes. Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake the Wellington for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, mix the maple syrup and plant-based milk in a small bowl to make a glazing liquid and brush the whole wellington, place back in the oven until golden brown and crispy, for around 25 minutes. Cut the wellington into equal slices and serve immediately with all the trimmings.
Instead of pigs in blankets... try bangers in blankets
This recipe uses carrots as a plant-based alternative to sausages. At this time of year, the humble orange vegetable is in season and packed full of flavour. Smoked paprika, smoked salt and maple syrup combine to give the aubergine bacon the same smokey, sweet flavour profile you would normally get with regular bacon.
Ingredients for the ‘bangers’
Ingredients for the ‘blankets’
1 medium aubergine
4 tbsp olive oil
1½ tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp smoked salt
1½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Peel the carrots, cut off the stalks, put them in a saucepan, cover with cold water, put the saucepan on the stove over a high heat and bring the water to the boil. Drain the carrots after five minutes of boiling and leave them to steam dry.
Pour the olive oil, maple syrup, smoked salt, smoked paprika and black pepper into a wide bowl and mix together with a fork until the salt has dissolved.
Chop the stalk off the aubergine and slice off the skin with a small sharp knife. Cut the peeled aubergine longways into quarters. Cut each quarter into thin slices that are roughly three millimetres thick. Toss the aubergine slices in the marinade and leave for five minutes.
Cut the carrots into two-inch-long pieces and carefully round off the ends with a sharp knife. Tightly wrap the ‘bangers’ with the marinated slices of aubergine, securing with a cocktail stick. Put the bangers in blankets on the lined baking sheet.
Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake the ‘Bangers in Blankets’ for 30 minutes until totally cooked through and dark in colour. Turn the sausages halfway through the cooking time. Take the sausages out of the oven and serve immediately.
Instead of that sticky toffee pudding... try this sticky toffee pudding
Sticky toffee pudding is a firm family favourite all year round, but the sumptuous dessert plays a starring role in many people’s Christmas meals. This recipe uses the same dark brown sugar that is used in Christmas cake to give it that deep, sweet flavour – and there are no eggs or butter involved so it’s vegan friendly. There’s also nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves just like you’d get in regular festive sweet streets, and it’s served with a luxurious dairy-free brandy cream.
Ingredientsfor the pudding
350ml plant-based milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
315g dairy-free butter
300g dark brown sugar
180g white self-raising flour
1⁄2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
1 tsp salt
75 walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
2 tbsp golden syrup
6 tbsp canned coconut cream
Ingredients for the brandy cream
300g soaked cashews
100ml of coconut milk
1 tbsp of vanilla extract
4 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
3 tbsp of brandy
Preheat oven to 160°C. Spread the walnuts out onto a tray, put the tray in the oven and bake the walnuts for 10 minutes until lightly toasted. Put the walnuts to one side.
Cut the dates into small pieces, removing the stones as you go. Put them in the saucepan along with the plant-based milk and vanilla extract and cook until the dates are soft, about 10 minutes.
Take the pan off the heat and stir in the bicarbonate of soda | Let the liquid cool to room temperature. Add 115g of the dairy-free butter and 100g of the sugar. Add the flour, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and salt, and stir them through a few times with a spoon until just combined, but not over-mixed.
Pour the mixture into the greased moulds, put the dishes in the oven and bake for 35–40 minutes, until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre of the sponges comes out clean.
Meanwhile, clean the saucepan and put it back on a medium heat. Put the golden syrup, the remaining 200g brown sugar and the remaining 200g dairy-free butter into the pan, stir and reduce the heat to low. Cook for five minutes until you have a syrup. Remove the pan from the hob, allow it to cool slightly and then stir in the coconut cream. Pour into a small jug.
While the tart is baking, make the cashew cream. Place all the ingredients in a high-speed blender and blitz until completely smooth.
Remove the puddings from the moulds, place them in bowls, drizzle over toffee sauce, sprinkle over the walnuts, spoon on the brandy cream and serve.