This time last year, we were preparing for Veganuary, January 2018 being the time when every self-respecting foodie with a conscience gave up meat, fish and dairy in favour of a plant-based diet. This year, the cool kids have either remained vegan ever since, or they are going vegan for Christmas itself. Want to be in with the in crowd (or at least be able to feed them…)? Here’s how…
First of all, a vegan Christmas is not the culinary disaster the uninitiated might imagine. For most non-vegans expecting vegan guests, it’s generally the non-dairy issue which seems to cause the most anxiety, but remember that every supermarket sells delicious plant-based butters, milks, yoghurts and mayo which directly replace dairy ones in every recipe. Once you’ve got your head around that, try some of these ideas…
CANAPES and NIBBLES
Cauliflower bites: Toss bite-size cauliflower chunks in olive oil, coat in panko breadcrumbs, roast for 20 mins at 210C/Gas 7. Serve with shop-bought vegan mayo.
Vegan pigs in blankets: Stretch/flatten sun-dried tomatoes as you would bacon for meaty pigs in blankets, wrap around vegan sausages/chipolatas, secure each with a cocktail stick and bake for 10 mins at 200C/Gas 6.
Veg rolls: Soak Vietnamese rice paper sheets in hot water for 5-10 secs to soften, place a small bed of salad leaves in the centre of each, top with smoked tofu strips, mashed avocado, cucumber and carrot shavings, roll as you would a wrap, serve with hoisin sauce as a dip.
Cucumber tapenade bites: Cut 1cm rounds of cucumber and top each with a dollop of black olive tapenade, a couple of very thin strips of drained roast red peppers from a jar, and a flat parsley leaf.
Smoked ‘salmon’: Roast 2 whole carrots in a baking tray covered in foil at 200C/Gas 6 for 10 mins, then at 100C for 40 mins. When cool, slice into strips with a vegetable peeler and put in an airtight box. Mix 2 tbsp miso paste, 1 tsp liquid smoke, 2 cloves garlic, 675ml water and 1 sheet nori torn into pieces. Pour over carrot and chill overnight. Remove from marinade and serve on discs of vegan cheese or pumpernickle. Top with an olive.
Christmas wreath: Wilt 250g spinach in hot water, drain and dry thoroughly. Mix with 250g smoked tofu chunks, 50g toasted pine nuts, 2 crushed garlic cloves, the zest of a lemon, 2 tsp dried cranberries and ½ tsp grated nutmeg. Roll 500g vegan shortcrust pastry (most shop-bought pastry happens to be vegan) into a rectangle. Fill centre with mixture, roll into a sausage, sticking long edge with almond/oat milk. Join the ends to make a wreath shape, put on a greased baking tray and brush with a mix of plant milk and olive oil. Chill for 30 mins. Cut slashes in the top, bake for 45 mins at 200C/Gas 6, decorate with dill and dried cranberries, and serve.
Fruit pavolva: Put the water from a can of chickpeas in a bowl, add 1 tsp cream of tartar, whisk with an electric whisk until firm (at least 10 mins), gradually whisk in 100g sugar. Place blobs or 6-8cm rounds of the mixture on a greased and lined baking tray and bake at 110C/Gas ¼ for approx 1 hour or until just firm (do not use a fan oven or the mix will fly away!). Turn off oven and leave meringue in until the oven is completely cool. To serve, pierce the lid of a tin of coconut milk, drain the water, open the lid, remove the cream and whisk until firm, stir in icing sugar to your taste and serve in a tower, layering meringues, fruit and a berry coulis.
CHRISTMAS CAKE AND PUD
We have made Delia Smith’s Christmas cake and pudding with vegan spread and Dr Oetker egg replacer from Holland & Barrett. The results would not pass Paul Hollywood’s texture test, but the flavours were as gorgeous as the originals. Plentiful booze in both helps!