Turkey is famously the traditional centrepiece of a Christmas meal, and it can be difficult to find options that do not contain any meat products. This blog will offer different approaches to a meatless Christmas dinner and will list some sides which can be eaten in combination with these main meals. Even if you are not vegetarian or vegan, these dishes may prove to be an interesting and delicious alternative to your current recipes.
The advancements that have been made in the creation of plant-based products have allowed for the availability of a wider variety of meals for vegetarians and vegans. Vegan turkey makes use of the soya plant to form the texture and taste of turkey without any meat products. Vegan turkey can usually be found in local supermarkets, meaning that it is accessible during this festive season.. Without the need for preparation, this is also a meal which is less time-consuming and allows for more time to be spent celebrating. For a burst of flavour, cranberry sauce is ideal for this dish and vegetables are always the perfect side.
The mushroom wellington is a plant-based adaptation of the beef wellington: a dish in which a portion of beef is coated in pâté and duxelles. The ingredients which combine to form the duxelles are mushrooms, herbs and shallots. The dish is then enveloped in puff pastry and cooked in the oven. Turkey can be used instead for a more festive variation of the beef wellington. The structure of the wellington means that the filling can be experimented with and plant-based products can be used instead, including soya products or a mushroom-based mixture. You could even add cranberries to the filling for extra flavour! The image above depicts a soya-based centre which is coated with the mushroom duxelles and puff pastry. For a more festive look, a cookie-cutter can be used on any leftover puff pastry to create shapes which can then be added onto the top of the wellington.
The most popular Christmas meal for vegetarians and vegans is the nut roast. This typically describes a mixture of nuts, breadcrumbs, leeks, onions, broth and either oil or butter. However, this recipe is malleable and offers the opportunity for many alterations according to personal preference. Some recipes include the addition of rice or orzo to create a different texture to this meal. Cranberries or pomegranate provide a flavour which enriches this dinner. To save on time, these nut roasts can be bought ready-made in supermarkets. As a personal recommendation, I would argue that gravy is the best sauce for a roast because it allows for a richness whilst preventing the dish itself from being overwhelmed with too many different flavours.
A pithivier is a pie which consists of a filling that is contained within puff pastry. It usually has a mounded shape and decorated with a spiral from the centre. This dish would make an excellent alternative for Christmas dinner as it allows for a more creative and flavourful approach to this meal. For instance, the filling could contain any vegetables that you would like to include, for example, a caramelised onion, butternut squash and spinach filling. So, if you are looking for a new recipe, then this may be the perfect option for you!
Christmas dinner is incomplete without sides and thus I will describe some of my personal favourites which I consistently serve every Christmas. Roasted carrots and parsnips are improved vastly with a sprinkle of cinnamon and two teaspoons of honey. The key to making Brussel sprouts delicious is the choice to roast them with chestnuts. This pairing is guaranteed to be a success! Cranberries are no doubt a festive favourite, but any form of dried fruit is equally perfect. Fruit and vegetables are not the only side that are brilliant. Cheese is also a popular addition to the dinner table, especially brie or camembert, as long as you check the label to make sure it is vegetarian, then these are an excellent addition!
Hopefully this blog has not only helped inform you of plant-based alternatives but has also inspired you to be creative with your meal choices this season!