The countdown to best meal of the year is officially on. A Christmas feast is typically Turkey with all the trimmings, however, the last few years have seen a rise in veganism.
The benefits of a vegan diet to animal welfare and the environment are well documented but studies have found that consuming a plant-based diet can have incredible health benefits. A vegan diet is richer in certain nutrients (for example, potassium, magnesium, folate and vitamins A, C and E), can help lower blood sugar levels and improve kidney function, and is also linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
With all this in mind, it’s not surprising that meat-free options are becoming the centrepieces at festive feasts. Here are our favourite vegan Christmas main dishes!
250 g (9oz) chestnut mushrooms very finely chopped
4 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
1 Tbsp tomato puree
60 ml (1/4 cup) vegan white wine
200 g (7oz) mixed nuts
180 g (6 oz) cooked chestnuts
175 g (6 oz) dry breadcrumbs
4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp miso paste
½ tsp each dried rosemary sage and thyme
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease a 2lb loaf or ring tin and line with baking parchment. (See above for instructions on how to line a ring tin).
Mix together the ground flaxseed and water in a small bowl. Set aside until it goes gloopy.
Place the cubed butternut squash and carrot in a pan of salted water. Bring up to a boil and simmer until tender then drain very well and mash thoroughly.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a low heat. Add the finely chopped onion and celery and cook gently for about 10 minutes until soft.
Add the finely chopped chestnut mushrooms and crushed garlic and continue to fry until all the excess liquid has evaporated.
Stir in the tomato purée and white wine and cook until the liquid has evaporated then remove from the heat.
Pulse the mixed nuts in a food processor until they are fairly finely chopped, but still retain some texture. Add the cooked chestnuts and pulse again until they too are finely chopped. Don't go too far, you want chopped nuts, not flour.
Tip the chopped nuts into the mushroom mixture along with the mashed vegetables, flax egg, breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, miso paste, rosemary, sage, thyme and plenty of salt and pepper. Give it a good stir and taste to check if it needs more seasoning.
Scrape the nut roast mixture into the prepared tin, spread it level and pack it down well. At this point you can cover the tin and refrigerate overnight if you prefer.
Otherwise, cover the top of the tin with tin foil and bake the nut roast for one hour, remove the foil and return to the oven for ten minutes. Leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before turning it out, garnishing as you please and serving.
Preheat the oven to gas 5, 190°C, fan 170°C. Put the dried mushrooms in a heatproof jug, cover with 300ml boiling water and set aside for 20 mins. Drain, reserving the liquid.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large saucepan. Add the shallots, Portobello mushrooms, carrots, swede and 4 tbsp water. Cook for 10 mins until the shallots have softened. Stir in the cornflour and cook for 1 min. Gradually add the stock, reserved porcini liquid and wine. Cook, stirring continuously, for 3-4 mins until the mixture has thickened. Stir through the lentils, porcini mushrooms, chopped thyme and redcurrant jelly. Season well, then transfer to a large oven-proof dish or casserole pot.
Finely slice the potatoes into rounds. Parboil for 5-6 mins until slightly softened. Drain and arrange the potatoes in rings on top of the hotpot, overlapping slightly. Brush with the remaining oil. Cover with foil and bake for 50 mins until the potatoes are just tender.
Increase the oven temperature to gas 7, 220°C, fan 200°C. Remove the foil and bake for a further 30 mins until the potatoes are cooked and golden brown. Scatter with thyme to garnish.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (gluten-free if preferred)
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed (check to make sure they are vegan)
2 tablespoons non-dairy milk (such as soy or almond)
Preheat oven to 400F (200C).
To make the lentil filling: Add the lentils to a medium pot with the vegetable broth. Cover, and bring to a simmer and cook for 35 to 40 minutes until liquid is absorbed and lentils are soft, even mushy. Take a blender or potato masher and mash the lentils until about two thirds of the lentils are mush. This lentil mush makes everything hold together nicely.
In a small bowl mix together the flax or chia with water and thicken. Flax will take about 10 minutes whereas chia will thicken almost instantly.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the onions, celery and carrots and sauté until they soften and begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook another 5 minutes until the mushrooms have shrunken and become juicy. Add in the garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and cayenne and sauté about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, mix the lentils, toasted nuts, veggies, flax mixture, oats and flour together, and set aside.
To weave the puff pastry: On a lightly floured surface roll out one of the puff pastry sheets until you get a rectangle that is about 10 inches by 14 inches. Transfer the pastry sheet to parchment paper.
Take half of the lentil mixture and form a loaf shape down the middle of the puff pastry, leaving a bit of room at both ends. Pat the mixture into a firm log. Cut strips down each side about 1 inch wide. Cut off the top two and bottom corners and set aside. Now fold up the top flap over the end, then take the top left strip and fold over the loaf. Take the top right strip and fold that over, making an x. Do this all the way down the crisscrossing strips. Try to keep the strips close together leaving only small gaps. Once you get near the bottom, fold the bottom flap up, then finish crossing the last strips tucking the ends in.
If you want to be all fancy, you can use the set-aside corner pieces of pastry to cut little leaf shapes, (or whatever shape you like) and tuck them into the weave. Repeat with the remaining pastry and lentil mixture so you have two loaves. Brush the top with non-dairy milk and move to a baking sheet.
Bake for about 40 - 45 minutes checking every now and then until it's all golden brown and gorgeous.
Add sweet potatoes to a pot of water with salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender. Drain, mash, season with salt, pepper, olive oil, thyme and set aside. (I used pre-cubed sweet potatoes to save time and to save my thumb).
Chickpea Veggie Filling
Meanwhile, Crush coriander and cumin seeds in a mortar pestle or blender/grinder. Heat oil over medium heat in a saucepan. When hot, add the crushed seeds to the oil. Cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add onion garlic and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. I had a thumb injury, so I chopped up onion and garlic in the food processor and used. I also processed the veggies in the processor, to add at the next step. This made the chopping prep a very quick 2 mins.
Add veggies, thyme, sage and 1/2 tsp salt and cook for another 3 minutes. Add peas, chickpeas, salt (depends on if the chickpeas were salted), water, black pepper, cayenne, soy sauce, celery seeds, and mix well. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover, add corn-starch mixed with water and simmer until thickened slightly. 5 to 7 mins. Taste and adjust salt, herbs. Preheat the oven to 425 deg F/ 220ºc.
Assembling the pie:
Distribute the chickpea veggie mixture into ramekins (fill 2/3 of the ramekin) or one large baking dish. Add sweet potato mixture on top.
Mix breadcrumbs, garlic, olive oil, optional nutritional yeast. rosemary or thyme in a bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the sweet potato mash.
Bake at 425 degrees F / 220ºc for 15 to 20 minutes. Broil for a minute to brown if needed. Cool for a few minutes then Serve.
The baked pie keeps well refrigerated. The filling will thicken a bit. Reheat and serve.