When you call to mind the annual Christmas spread, there’s usually a meat dish at the centre of it. Maybe it’s a ham or chicken, or perhaps you and yours favour the big bird, and opt for a turkey. And what of the sea-dwellers for Christmas? Aussies are always, you know, throwing shrimp on the Barbie aren’t they?
With the many cuts and styles of meat that could find themselves on your table for Christmas, it’s hard to imagine a wholly vegetarian Christmas spread. But that is all about to change, as we introduce to you to eight delicious vegetarian Christmas dishes perfect for this year’s holiday.
1 / 6
Spicy Fried Cauliflower
Cauliflower is a gateway vegetable that’s great for introducing meat eaters to the wild and wonderful world of vegetarian Christmas meals. It’s adaptable to a range of spices and seasonings, is high in important minerals and vitamins, and, like mushroom and eggplant, has become an acceptable and common substitute for meat. Drawing on this recipe, you can have your spicy fried cauliflower on the table in 30 minutes. It’s a great replacement for chicken wings and a perfect dish if you’ve got a sore head from hitting the Christmas schnapps prematurely.
1 cup of plain flour
1 tablespoon of cornstarch
Pinch of salt
Generous grind of pepper
½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon of onion powder
½ teaspoon of garlic powder
½ teaspoon of sweet paprika
1 teaspoon of baking powder
⅓ cup of Sriracha
¼ cup of soy milk (or almond, coconut or rice milk)
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
5 cups of sunflower oil (vegetable or canola oil are also great suitable for frying)
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients.
In another bowl combine the wet ingredients and whisk until creamy.
Heat the oil in a deep pan.
Dip a cauliflower floret into the wet mixture, then drop it into the dry mixture, covering completely each time. Repeat.
Lower the twice-coated cauliflower into the hot oil and repeat with remaining cauliflower until you can’t fit any more into the pot.
Cook for about five minutes, until the florets are golden brown.
Transfer fried cauliflower to a large plate covered with paper towel to soak up excess oil.
2 / 6
Pickled And Preserved Vegetables
Whether it’s preserved lemons used to garnish a salad or pickled cucumbers as a palette cleanser and refreshing side dish, pickled vegetables are a brilliant accompaniment to any Christmas feast, vegetarian or otherwise. They also make thoughtful gifts that you can guarantee won’t end up in the let’s-give-that-to-the-cousins pile. Here’s a quick and easy recipe for dill pickles. The best part about this recipe is that the brine can be used to pickle any vegetables you like, and the spices are simply modified according to taste.
2 tablespoons of mixed peppercorns
2 teaspoons dill seed or 4 sprigs of fresh dill (or a combination of both)
½ teaspoon of mustard seeds
500grams of Lebanese cucumbers or qukes (baby cucumbers)
1 cup of apple cider vinegar
1 cup of water
1 ½ tablespoons of pickling salt (this salt has no preservatives or anti-caking agents, and yes, it does make a difference)
1. Sterilise the jars by soaking them (and their lids) in boiling water. If you’re recycling jars this will also help with removing old labels.
2. Divide the peppercorns, dill seed, fresh dill and mustard seeds evenly between two jars.
3. Cut the cucumbers into lengths (measured against your jars to ensure they fit) or rounds and pack them tightly into the jars.
4. Combine the vinegar, water and salt in a small saucepan over high heat. This is the brine.
5. Once boiling, pour the brine over the pickles, filling each jar to within a centimetre of the top. Discard any left-over brine
6. Tap the jars gentle against a bench or table to remove air bubbles, then screw the lids on tightly.
7. Turn the jars up and down to spread the spices throughout
8. Let the jars cool to room temperature then transfer to the fridge for storing.
9. Resist opening for two weeks, then voila. Your own piece of pickled heaven.
3 / 6
Eggplant, Chickpea and Tomato Casserole
This hearty casserole can be prepared days in advance then heated to serve on Christmas Day. Like pizza and curry that’s spent the night (or two) in the fridge, sometimes the effect of time on these dishes actually enhances and enriches their flavour. Call it Christmas magic, or something. It’s delicious hot or cold, and can be tossed through pasta the next day when you’re fending for yourself through a sea of leftovers.
2 medium eggplants, cut into rounds
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Large pinch of salt
1 large onion, sliced thinly
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large can of whole tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 handful of basil, chopped roughly
Fresh cracked pepper
1 can of chickpeas, drained
3 tablespoons of parsley, chopped
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Line a baking tray with foil, and brush the foil with olive oil. Place the eggplant rounds on the foil, sprinkle with salt and brush each slice lightly with one tablespoon of the olive oil. Place in the oven for 15 minutes or until the eggplant is lightly browned.
Remove the eggplant from the oven but keep the oven on. Reduce the heat to 180°C. Fold the foil in half over the eggplant and seal the edges together so the eggplant can continue to soften.
Now to the tomato sauce. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Cook the onions until they’re soft, then add the garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, cumin, basil and pepper. Break the whole tomatoes up as the sauce combines. Bring to a simmer and stir often for about 25 minutes or until the sauce is thick. Then, and only then, can you stir in the chickpeas.
Oil a baking dish and spoon a thick layer of tomato sauce across the bottom. Layer eggplant rounds until the base is covered. Repeat until all eggplant and tomato sauce is gone.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Serve with rice, polenta or couscous and sprinkle fresh parsley as desired.
4 / 6
This is classic comfort food. It’s a simple pie, but also healthy, loaded with iron-rich spinach and a heap of fresh herbs. Whether served as a snack or main on Christmas day, this dish will always be a hit. Try this recipe for helpful preparation tips and step-by-step photos. Spanakopita can also be made into smaller parcels or triangles and stand as a great replacement for meat pies or sausage rolls.
1 large packet of filo pastry, thawed
2 tablespoons of olive oil
500-600grams of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
1 bunch of dill, chopped roughly
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, (you guessed it) finely chopped
250grams of crumbly feta cheese (Dondoni is a personal favourite)
Preheat the oven to 175°C.
Take a large baking dish and brush the base and sides with olive oil.
Line the dish with one sheet of filo pastry, covering the sides and bottom
Brush with oil and repeat until you have three or four layers. Filo is very thin and this will create a sturdy based for your spanakopita.
Combine all remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Spread a layer of filling evenly over the pastry base then cover with two more sheets of filo and brush with olive oil.
Repeat until all the filling is gone. Once complete, fold overhanging pastry in to create a lid for your spanakopita.
Bake for one hour, or until pastry is golden brown and flaky.
5 / 6
If time isn’t on your side during the Christmas period (and let’s be honest, that’s everyone) then the Caprese salad was made for you. Simple and fresh, it’s a perfect salad for Christmas in Australian summer. I love this recipe for its frankness, claiming that the most important rule of all is, don’t mess with its simplicity. The recipe demands fresh, quality ingredients. There are only four, but get them wrong and be forever known as that salad maker. Get them right and you’ll be some sort of vegetarian Christmas miracle.
1 kilo of ripe mixed tomatoes (try truss, black Russian and cherry tomatoes for a lovely blend of colour, size and taste)
500grams of fresh mozzarella
½ cup of fresh, sweet basil
Generous drizzle of high-quality olive oil
Fresh cracked pepper and sea salt to taste
Slice the tomatoes and arrange on a plate.
Rip the mozzarella and arrange over the tomatoes. Don’t be stingy, I beg you.
Decorate the tomatoes and mozzarella with leaves of basil.
Drizzle olive oil generously over your platter.
Sprinkle with cracked pepper and sea salt
Serve with a crusty baguette or dense sourdough bread.
Your work here is done!
6 / 6
Green summer salad
Using some of the best green vegetables available in summer, this salad recipe is another quick and easy recipe that is sure to please all in attendance at your vegetarian Christmas feast. It’s bright and fresh, and complements all cuisines. We dare meat eaters not to enjoy it.
300 grams of asparagus
200 grams of green beans
300 grams of broad beans
50 grams of baby spinach
1 red chilli
1 shallot onion
Juice of half a large lemon
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon of Nigella (black cumin) seeds
3 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
Big pinch of salt and generous grind of pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to boil.
Blanch the asparagus for about three minutes, ensuring they don’t get soggy. Tip – when they’re bright green it’s usually a good time to pull them out. They’ll still be firm, which is perfect.
Lift the asparagus out of the hot water and plunge into ice-cold water.
Add the green beans to the boiling water, blanch for five minutes and transfer to the bowl of cold water where the asparagus are chillin’.
Drain and dry the asparagus and beans. Set aside.
Blanch the broad beans in the same boiling water for two minutes, drain, place in cold water then dry.
Remove and discard the skins of half the broad beans.
Put the asparagus, broad beans and green beans in a large bowl and add all remaining ingredients.