The best Christmas vegetarian recipes (2024)

When I became vegetarian, most of my family quickly followed suit. Brother, sister, mum and boyfriend all made the transition within months of each other, meaning we had to start some new Christmas traditions of our own. All of sudden, there was no bird to go in the oven at 7am, no pigs to wrap in blankets and our festive traditions needed a rethink.

We’ve experimented with all sorts of pies, puddings and suppers that mean Christmas to us, and these are the ones that made the grade, that I know I will be cooking for many years to come.

Christmas Eve

Parsnip rosti supper

I am a big fan of the Swiss traditions on Christmas Eve so this is my nod to the freshness of their food, which sits so happily amongst the richness of the rest of Christmas. It’s not an authentic recipe but to me, Christmas is about creating your own traditions by stealing the bits you like from others. I use pre-cooked beetroots here to keep things simple but you could easily boil and peel your own if you have the time.

Serves 4-6
For the roasted beetroots:
banana shallots 6, peeled and halved
cooked beetroots 500g, peeled and halved
rapeseed or olive oil a little
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
white wine or herb vinegar 4 tbsp

For the quick pickles:
a few
sea salt a good pinch
coriander seeds
1 heaped tsp, bashed
runny honey
1 tbsp
white wine vinegar
4 tbsp

For the rosti
600g (about 4), peeled
2 large, peeled
a small bunch

To serve:

Break the shallots into petals and place on a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive or rapeseed oil, season with salt and pepper and roast at 200C/gas mark 6 for 20 minutes.

Quickly make the pickle. Very thinly slice the cucumber and radishes and pop them into a bowl with a pinch of salt, the bashed coriander seeds, honey and white wine vinegar, then scrunch together and leave to sit while you make your rosti.

Meanwhile, coarsely grate the parsnips and potato into a mixing bowl. Squeeze the vegetables in your hands or in a clean tea cloth to get rid of most of the moisture then put back into the bowl. Beat the eggs and add them to the parsnip mixture with the thyme, season and mix well. Heat an ovenproof shallow casserole or frying pan, add a good drizzle of olive oil and add the parsnip mixture. Pat out to form a thin rosti, cook on high for a couple of minutes then put into the oven with the onions to roast for 25 minutes.

Now the onions should have had about 20 minutes, so add the halved beetroots and vinegar and pop back into the oven to finish off for another 20 minutes.

Once your onions and beetroots are roasted and sticky and your rosti is golden brown, turn down the oven to keep everything warm.

Fry the eggs in clarified butter. Serve each rosti topped with the beetroots and onions, a fried egg and a pinch of the pickle on the side. Sometimes a slick of mustard or a spoonful of crème fraîche is nice, too.

Christmas Day breakfast

Vegeree with soft eggs and smoked salt baked celeriac

The best Christmas vegetarian recipes (1)

I love the mix of smoke with spice here, so I roast the celeriac with smoked salt and stir it through. I like to keep my eggs pretty runny but if you prefer them firmer, then boil for another minute or two. To make this vegan, leave out the eggs and use oil instead of butter. If you can’t find curry leaves, don’t worry – it will still be delicious without them.

Serves 6
1 large, peeled and cut into 2cm pieces
rapeseed or olive oil
smoked sea salt a good pinch
freshly ground black pepper
onions 2, peeled and finely chopped
garlic cloves 2, peeled and finely sliced
bay leaves 2
fresh curry leaves 20 (optional)
cardamom pods 8, bashed
coriander seeds 3 tsp, bashed
ground turmeric 3 tsp
green chillies 2, thinly sliced
basmati rice 400g
free-range eggs 6, medium
parsley a bunch, chopped
coriander a bunch, chopped
lemons juice of 2
Greek yoghurt 8 tbsp

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.

Put the celeriac onto a baking tray with a drizzle of oil, a hefty pinch of smoked salt and a good grind of black pepper and roast for 20 minutes.

Heat a good glug of oil in a large, heavy-based pan with a lid. Add the onions, garlic, bay and curry leaves, and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes until soft and sweet. Add the cardamom pods, coriander seeds, turmeric, sliced chilli and a couple of hearty pinches of smoked salt. Stir for another three to four minutes on medium heat until the spices smell great. Take a spoonful of the onion mixture out of the pan for later.

Turn the heat up and add the rice, and a little more oil if needed, stir to coat in the spices, then pour over a litre of cold water. You want the water to come about 1cm above the rice so you may need a little more or a little less. Put the lid on and put the whole lot into the oven for 25 minutes.

While the rice is cooking boil the eggs. I add my eggs to a pan of boiling water for 5-6 minutes for runny yolks but cook a little longer if you like them firmer. Cool the eggs in cold water to stop them cooking and then peel and keep to one side.

Mix the yoghurt with a squeeze of lemon, a pinch of smoked salt and the spoonful of spices and onions from earlier.

Once the celeriac and rice have had their time, take them both out of the oven. Stir the celeriac through the rice with the herbs and the rest of the lemon juice. Cut the eggs in half and lay on top, then pop the lid back on to keep warm. Serve in the middle of the table with the yoghurt for spooning over.

Christmas lunch

Goodwill pie and sticky cider gravy with warm red cabbage and golden raisins

The best Christmas vegetarian recipes (2)

All the roasting can be done while you get on with the leeks and greens. If you’re pushed for time or just want an extra hour in bed on Christmas morn, then a good-quality shop-bought shortcrust will work just fine.

Serves 8-10
Lancashire cheese
organic or free-range egg
1, beaten, or soya milk for brushing

For the pastry
plain flour
500g, plus extra for rolling
fine sea salt
1 tsp
baking powder
½ tsp
coarse polenta
fresh thyme
a small bunch, leaves picked and very finely chopped
butter or vegetable shortening
ice-cold water
up to 250ml

For the sweet potato
sweet potatoes
3, scrubbed clean
butter or olive oil
a little
fresh nutmeg
a good few gratings

For the beetroot
5 medium, peeled and cut into rough cubes
olive oil
red wine vinegar
a splash
fresh marjoram or oregano
2 sprigs, leaves picked
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the parsnip
4, peeled and cut into little fingers
fresh sage
a couple of sprigs, leaves picked
unwaxed orange
zest of 1
1 tbsp

For the leeks
butter or olive oil
2 good-sized, washed, trimmed and sliced
fresh thyme
3 sprigs, leaves picked

For the greens
winter greens
2 heads, stalks removed, roughly shredded
unwaxed lemon
grated zest and juice of ½
red chilli
1, finely chopped

First make the pastry. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and add the polenta and chopped thyme. Cut the butter or shortening into small bits and rub these into the dry ingredients until you have a breadcrumb-like mix. Add the water and knead to a smooth dough, but don’t overwork it.

You could also use a food processor: pulse to breadcrumbs, then add the water and pulse until it just comes together. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and chill while you get on with everything else.

Now get your veg on the go – all of this can happen at once. Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7.

Roast the sweet potatoes for 1 hour until soft. Meanwhile, prepare the beetroot and parsnips. Pop the beets into a roasting tin, with a splash of olive oil and the vinegar, add the marjoram or oregano, and season. Cover with foil and roast alongside the sweet potatoes for 1 hour, removing the foil for the last 15 minutes.

Put the parsnips into a roasting dish with the sage, orange zest, honey and a drizzle of olive oil, mix to coat, then cover with foil. Roast with the other veg for 45 minutes, until golden, removing the foil for the last 5-10 minutes. When all the veg are cooked, remove from the oven and turn the temperature down to 200C/gas mark 6.

Cook the leeks. Heat the butter or oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the leeks and thyme and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes, until sweet and softened, then set aside. Add a little more olive oil to the pan, add the greens and cook over a low heat for a few minutes, until just wilted. Season, then add the lemon zest and chilli. Set aside.

Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and mash with a knob of butter or 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a good grating of nutmeg. Adjust the seasoning for all the vegetable mixtures, if needed.

Take your pastry from the fridge and let it sit for a few minutes. Then roll it out on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of a £1 coin and use it to line a 20cm springform cake tin, leaving the excess hanging over the edges.

Now it’s time to start layering the pie. Start with all the leeks, then a grating of Lancashire cheese, then the beetroot, the greens, and another layer of cheese, then the parsnips and finally the sweet potato mash.

Finish by bringing the excess pastry over the top of the mash, twisting the ends and laying them on the mash in a haphazard fashion – the little rough bits will crisp up and look beautiful. The pastry may not cover the whole of the top, but a little vivid orange sweet potato poking through is OK. Brush with the beaten egg or some soya milk.

Bake the pie at the bottom of the oven for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown, then remove from the oven and pop out of the tin, brush again with egg or soya milk and pop back into the oven for five minutes to brown all over. Leave to cool for 15-20 minutes, then place in the middle of the table. Serve with lashings of the sticky cider gravy.

Sticky veg and cider gravy

The sweetness from the roasted veg is backed up by the freshness from the cider. This can be easily made a day ahead and any leftovers freeze well.

Makes about 400ml (a good jugful)
2, roughly chopped
2 sticks, roughly chopped
4, roughly chopped
2 whole cloves, skins left on
fresh rosemary
2 sprigs
fresh thyme
2 sprigs
bay leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
plain flour
2 tbsp
dry cider
vegetable stock

Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7.

Lay the veg in a large roasting tray and scatter over the herbs. Season, then drizzle over a little olive oil. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, until the veg are sweet, soft and golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little.

Using a potato masher, mash the veg in the roasting tray, then place the tray on the hob on a medium heat. Add the flour and stir well for a couple of minutes, until it has cooked through.

Pour in the cider and stock, bring to a simmer, then cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to get all the sticky bits from the bottom of the tray.

After 10 minutes, remove from the heat and sieve the gravy into a jug, pressing down on all the vegetables and herbs with a spoon to get all the flavour out. Keep in the fridge until needed. Reheat with a little extra hot water or veg stock.

Warm red cabbage with golden raisins and candied pumpkin seeds

This is always on my Christmas table to add crunch, freshness and colour.

Serves 6
pumpkin seeds
4 tbsp
sea salt
rapeseed or olive oil
2 tbsp
red onions
2, peeled and thinly sliced
garlic cloves
2 medium, peeled and finely sliced
red cabbage
1 large, halved and cut into thin ribbons
a few sprigs, finely chopped
golden raisins or dried cranberries
balsamic vinegar
8 tbsp

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan on a medium heat until popping and golden brown. While they are still hot, drizzle over 2 tablespoons of the honey and add a pinch of salt and transfer to a plate to cool.

In a large heavy-bottomed pan with a lid, heat the olive oil and cook the onion for 10 minutes until soft and sweet, stir in the garlic and the shredded cabbage, and a good pinch of salt. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes until the cabbage begins to soften then add the thyme and most of the raisins, the vinegar and the remaining honey. Put the lid on and cook for a further 20 minutes until the cabbage is a deep dark purple and the vinegar has thickened and sweetened a little. Serve with the remaining raisins and the candied pumpkin seeds sprinkled over.

Wine match for the Goodwill pie, by David Williams

Domaine La Tour Vieille Puig Oriol, Collioure, Roussillon,
France 2011

A showpiece dish of depth and complexity, and a wine to match it in both form and feel from the Mediterranean near Spain: there is a note of winter herb – woody rosemary and thyme – in this deep, dark, powerful but vibrant red, black olive too, and brambly fruit.

Boxing Day

Chestnut and greens seeded galette with a grilled fennel and chicory salad

The best Christmas vegetarian recipes (3)

This is my take on a nut roast. You can make the base, squash and greens ahead of time and warm them just before serving if you like to be organised.

Serves 6
1 small or ½ a butternut squash, deseeded and cut into 0.5cm slices

For the galette base
pistachio nuts
100g, shelled
sunflower or pumpkin seeds
vaccuum-packed or roasted 100g
olive oil
2 tbsp
maple syrup
2 tbsp
grated zest of 1
fresh thyme
a small bunch, leaves picked
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the winter greens topping
red onions
2, peeled and thinly sliced
a few sprigs, leaves picked
winter greens
2 large handfuls
cashew nuts
75g, soaked overnight if you remember
olive oil
2 tbsp
juice of ½

To finish
dried cranberries
a handful

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.

Pop the squash on a baking tray with some salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil, and roast in the oven for 30 minutes, until golden.

While the squash is roasting, you can get on with everything else. First the galette crust: put the pistachios, sunflower or pumpkin seeds on a baking tray and roast in the hot oven alongside the squash for 5 minutes.

Remove the tray of nuts and seeds (leaving the squash to carry on roasting) and tip them into a food processor with the chestnuts, olive oil, lemon zest, thyme and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Blitz until you have a mix of fine crumbs that comes together when you squeeze it. If it is too crumbly, add a touch more oil until it comes together into a solid piece when you scrunch it in your hands.

Lay a sheet of baking paper on your work surface, then tip out the paste and shape it into a circle with your hands. Place another sheet of baking paper on top and use a rolling pin to roll it out into a pizza-sized circle about 0.5cm thick. Put it on a baking tray and take off the top sheet of paper, then prick the dough with a fork and pop it into the oven alongside the squash for 15-20 minutes, until golden around the edges. Take it out and let it cool a little. If the squash is ready before the crust, take it out and set it aside.

Meanwhile, fry the red onion in a little oil with a pinch of salt and a tiny squeeze of lemon until deep violet, sweet and just starting to colour (this will take about 10 minutes). Take out a third of the onion for later then add the chopped sage, cook for a couple of minutes, then add the greens and wilt for a minute or two.

Tip the warm greens into a food processor with soaked nuts, olive oil, lemon juice and a good amount of salt and pepper and blitz until you have a smooth deep-green paste, then put back into the pan and warm through.

Once the galette base has cooled a little and you are ready to serve, spread it with the warm sage and greens and scatter over the reserved red onion and the squash and cranberries. I sometimes sprinkle over a bit of feta too.

Sweet balsamic, grilled fennel and chicory salad

The best Christmas vegetarian recipes (4)

I love this dressing and it pretty much works with any sturdy salad or veg you care to think of. The sweet balsamic with a citrus pop and mellow sweet heat from the chilli against the flame-tamed bitterness of the chicory and fennel is more than welcome here.

Serves 6
fresh rosemary
a sprig, leaves picked and chopped
red chillies
2, deseeded and finely chopped
balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp
juice of ½
extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
red chicory
8 heads (or 4 small radicchio)
2 heads, trimmed and thinly sliced

Put the chopped rosemary into a bowl with the chillies, balsamic vinegar, orange juice, oil and salt and pepper. Then give everything a good mix.

Heat a griddle pan until smoking hot and griddle the chicory or radicchio and the fennel slices on all sides, until charred and just soft. Toss the chicory and fennel in the dressing and serve immediately.

A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones (4th Estate, £25). To buy a copy from the Guardian Bookshop for £18.99, click here

The best Christmas vegetarian recipes (2024)
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