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Planning a meat-free Christmas? Here's some tasty vegetarian recipes

Chefs and food writers offer some vegetarian inspiration for the festive season.

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Want to have a Christmas that doesn’t have a big impact on the environment? We’re here to help with a new series, speaking to experts about how to be as sustainable and green this festive season as you can, no matter your budget.

Green Christmas is supported by Volvo, a car manufacturer which has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2040.

As part of our Green Christmas series, we’re sharing some meat-free recipes with you. 

OFF WORK? PLANNING your Christmas dinner? If you’re still not sure what to feast on during the festive season, we’ve got some meat-free suggestions. 

They’re suitable for whether you’re a veteran vegetarian, a newly converted vegan or simply want to cut down your meat intake. 

Compiled by top chefs and food writers, have a taste of how you can have a delicious Christmas and also stay environmentally friendly. 

Capture Source: Joanne Murphy/Susan Jane White

Mushroom and merlot stew

This recipe comes courtesy of Susan Jane White and is from her new book Clever Batch. 

“Mushrooms can make a stealthy replacement for meat,” she says. 

“We grate fresh horseradish into mashed buttery potatoes to serve alongside this wintry stew. A flurry of flaky sea salt and chopped parsley brings it up an octave. Move over turkey and ham – there’s a new deity in town.” 

This recipe serves 8 with mash and can be frozen. 

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 4 fat garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 celeriac, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 litres really good veg stock or bone broth
  • 750ml Merlot or other dry red wine
  • 8 big handfuls of wild or regular mushrooms
  • A few twists of the salt and pepper mill
  • 4 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons kuzu or arrowroot
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • Horseradish mash, to serve

Method

Heat 2 tablespoons of your preferred fat in your largest heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté over a low-medium heat until glassy.

Tumble in the chopped celeriac, bay leaves and thyme and let them socialise for five minutes on a low heat while you get going on the mushrooms.

Then pour the stock and the Merlot into the pot. Let the pot gurgle for one hour, until the celeriac is tender. Leave the lid off to let the alcohol escape.

To prep the mushrooms while the stew merrily cooks, slice them into bite-sized chunks or leave whole if small.

Heat the remaining ghee, butter or olive oil in a large frying pan, then lower the heat and cook the mushrooms until tender and caramelised. Do this in batches while the stew bubbles.

Season the mushrooms and parachute them into the pot as they cook.

At this point, you can grate some ginger into the pot and let it gently simmer until the celeriac is tender. Dissolve the kuzu or arrowroot in the cold water and add to the pot 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time to thicken the broth.

You might like to pop some miso paste in at this stage for extra richness.
That’s it. Keep the pot warm on your lowest setting until you’re ready to serve. Your mash can be kept warm in the oven covered with foil on a low setting too.

Capture Source: Cornucopia

Seitan steak with harissa-braised cabbage

This might sound ambitious, but it’s not as difficult as it sounds. If you’re not familiar with seitan, it’s a wheat gluten that can be used to make loads of great plant-based meals. 

The recipe is from the Cornucopia Green Cookbook, produced by the vegetarian restaurant in Dublin. 

Ingredients

  • 200g tofu
  • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 and a half teaspoon of ground allspice
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 80ml shoyu or good-quality soy sauce
  • 250g vital wheat gluten – available from health food stores
  • rapeseed oil

For the harissa-baked cabbage

  • Half of a large red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 4 large leeks, well rinsed and sliced into 3cm-sized chunks
  • 4 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 3 tablespoons of harissa paste
  • 3 tablespoons ras el hanout
  • 2 x 500g cartons of tomato passata
  • 100g of tomato puree
  • salt and pepper

For the glaze

  • 50ml balsamic vinegar
  • 30ml agave syrup or apple concentrate
  • 30ml shoyu or soya sauce

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees. 

To prepare the cabbage, massage the ingredients together in a large bowl. Season to taste and transfer to a large roasting tray.

Cover with foil pierced with a few holes and bake in the oven for 90 minutes or so until everything is tender. 

For the steaks, combine the tofu, spices, mustard and nutritional yeast with 100ml water, 60ml rapeseed oil and 30ml shoyu and blitz to a smooth purée in a high-speed blender. 

Transfer to a large bowl along with the vital wheat gluten and knead by hand until well combined and formed into a smooth elastic dough. 

Divide the dough into six equal pieces and flatten them out into steaks. Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add three steaks and cook for two minutes before turning them and repeating on the opposite side. 

Set the cooked steaks aside while you repeat the process with the remaining three. 

Return all six steaks to the pan (don’t worry that they will overlap), pour in 700ml of water and the remaining 50ml shoyu and cover the pan with its lid or some foil, leaving a small gap for the steam to escape. 

Poach at a low simmer for about 30 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the steaks and clean out the pan. 

To make the glaze, whisk together all the ingredients. Heat a little more oil in the pan and add three steaks with half the glaze. Ramp up the heat and turn the steaks over a couple of times to heat through while they absorb the glaze. 

Serve immediately on top of a mound of braised cabbage, and with something creamy on the side to balance the heat of the harissa spices (mashed potato or plain soya yoghurt). Repeat with the remaining steaks as needed. 

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