So, you don’t eat meat. Christmas dinner has come around and you’re bracing yourself for the annual remarks. Couldn’t you try a bit of turkey just this once? Surely a bit of goose fat on the roasties doesn’t count? It is I, your resident dinner-table fusspot, here to give you some tips to impress with a banging festive feast: vegan-style.
I simply can’t find it in me to get excited about a nut roast
Believe me, I have tried: I simply can’t find it in me to get excited about a nut roast. There’s no festive thrill in nuts and breadcrumbs, no matter how much sage and onion you put in. Luckily there are now several veggie-vegan roast options on the market to buy straight off the shelf or online. I had a disaster involving a Tofurkey roast and a rubber shoe some years ago (it tasted like one). But I’ve had successes with options like Vivera chicken tenders, the Vegusto Special Vegan Roast, homemade “seitan” logs or even some good old fashioned Linda McCartney sausages. If faux-meat is not your game then mushroom wellington or a lentil loaf can make a lovely centrepiece!
I had a disaster involving a Tofurkey roast and a rubber shoe some years ago (it tasted like one)
My dad used to pay 20p for every “fartball” my siblings and I ate on Christmas. I would shovel in the bitter balls and rack up one whole pound by the time the christmas pudding was out. Needless to say I was scarred by the spherical vegetable for a while after that; it only recently dawned on me that sprouts can actually be quite nice if they are done right. Traditionally they are roasted with bacon bits but I have found that adding some fried chestnuts or marinated flaked almonds or coconut flakes can add the same rich crunch. Marinate the flakes in soy sauce, maple syrup and liquid smoke for a bacony flavour and roast the sprouts in balsamic vinegar for a festive fartball dish you will want to eat for free!
Every household has their way, so I don’t want to intrude here. Let me add this though: don’t let anyone tell you goose fat is necessary for maximum crispiness. Just don’t forget to use a starchy potato variety and fluff liberally with a fork before putting them in the oven.
A lot of shop-bought stuffing mixes are veggie or vegan- just check the packet to make sure. Pro tip: add some veggie sausage meat to the mix to take it to the next level.
Don’t talk to me - I’ll cry. In a few years I have no doubt that a vegan variety of Yorkshires will have graced the supermarket shelves, but for now it’s 2020 and the world is still lacking. You can always make your own using flour and soya milk, or small companies like Mabel’s offer them to deliver! If you want it enough, you can make it happen.
We’ve got the basics down, here’s where it gets fun. I personally think the dinner is not complete without some winter spiced red cabbage (use dairy-free butter for any otherwise vegan recipe). An underrated addition is bread sauce: that’s bread… as a sauce, flavoured with bay leaves and lots of black pepper and nutmeg. You’ll need to substitute the butter and milk in most recipes you will find - I recommend whole oat milk for recipes like this, and any non-dairy butter will do. If you want to do some pigs in blankets, I’ve had success with thinly sliced marinated aubergine to wrap the veggie sausages- or Sainsburys do some ready-made vegan ones. Three more words to lust over: maple. roasted. parsnips.
You know, most roasts are just stuff and gravy anyway. If it all goes tits up get yourself some trusty gravy granules, go forth and douse. Most on the market are vegan, including beef or chicken flavoured ones. If you just keep pouring you might even manage to make a disappointing nut roast exciting! Ahhh, bisto.
Featured image: @ThanksPlants on Twitter