A very veggie Christmas: How to have the best vegetarian Christmas dinner
Taking meat off the menu this Christmas? If it’s your first time, you might not know where to start.
But there are so many options! Whether it’s pudding, pigs in blankets, or something a little more adventurous, you’ll find all the vegetarian Christmas recipes you need below.
Cooking for vegans? Check out our post on the best vegan Christmas dinner instead.
- How to have a vegetarian Christmas
- Vegetarian Christmas starters
- Vegetarian Christmas main courses
- Vegetarian Christmas sides
- Vegetarian Christmas desserts
- Vegetarian Christmas snack ideas
- Vegetarian Christmas bakes
- The final say
Getting it together
If you’re after a traditional roast, you can use the basic outline to create a meat-free alternative. Think about a hearty centrepiece, several vegetable side dishes, at least one type of potatoes, and lots of sauces.
Vegetarian Christmas starters
1. Halloumi, carrot & orange salad
- 2 large oranges
- 1½ tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 1½ tsp honey
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil, plus extra for frying
- 2 large carrots, peeled
- 225g block halloumi, sliced
- 100g bag watercress or baby spinach
1. Halloumi, carrot & orange salad
- Cut the peel and pith away from the oranges. Segment the orange, catching any juices in a bowl. Add the mustard, honey, vinegar, oil, and some seasoning to the bowl and mix well.
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel carrot ribbons into the dressing bowl and toss gently. Heat a drizzle of oil in a frying pan and cook the halloumi for a few minutes until golden on both sides.
- Toss the watercress through the dressed carrots. Arrange the watercress mixture on plates and top with the halloumi and oranges.
2. Caramelised mushroom tartlets
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp golden caster sugar
- 250g chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 3-4 tbsp thyme leaves, finely chopped
- Butter, for spreading
- 12 slices of thin, sliced white sandwich bread
- 100g grated gruyère or cheddar, for sprinkling
2. Caramelised mushroom tartlets
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and fry over a moderate heat for about 7 mins until soft and golden. Stir in the sugar and seasoning, turn up the heat and add the mushrooms. Sizzle for 5 mins until the mushrooms are golden.
- Stir in the garlic, then turn off the heat and stir in most of the thyme (save some for sprinkling). Chill this mix.
- To make the tartlet bases, cut 7 to 8cm circles out of the bread using a cookie cutter or glass. Butter one side and stick buttered-side down into a 12-hole tartlet tin.
- When ready to bake, heat the oven to 220C/200 fan/Gas Mark 7. Divide the mushroom mixture between the tartlets and top with a sprinkle of cheese. Don’t be too tidy about this – any cheese on the tin will form a lacy edge for the tartlets. Bake for 10 to 15 mins until golden and bubbling. Sprinkle over the reserved herbs and serve.
The main meal
Forget the last-minute panic. Offer your vegetarian friends a mouth-watering centrepiece to their main Christmas meal.
Choose something hearty and substantial, bursting with Christmas flavours like cranberry, orange, and spices.
Don’t overlap side dish ingredients with the main ingredients of your vegetarian offering, and ensure a variety of flavours, textures, and colours. Be sure to avoid adding bacon, anchovies, or other non-vegetarian frills.
Vegetarian Christmas mains:
1. Vegetarian Christmas wreath3
- 750g butternut squash 750g, sliced
- Bunch of finely-chopped sage
- Olive oil
- 250g ricotta
- Nutmeg for grating
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 75g vegetarian hard cheese, finely grated, plus 2 tbsp extra (be sure to check, as cheeses like Parmesan are not vegetarian)
- 2 cartons (360g) of croissant dough
- Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Toss the squash with half the sage, 2 tbsp olive oil, and plenty of seasoning. Tip onto a baking tray and roast for 30 to 40 minutes until tender and golden around the edges.
- Beat the ricotta, remaining sage, nutmeg, garlic, and cheese together, then season.
- Unroll the cartons of croissant dough and cut to make 12 dough triangles. Take the largest baking sheet you have and arrange the triangles in an overlapping circle, so that the long, pointed ends make a star shape.
- Pile up the squash in a ring, on top of the overlapping pastry, and dollop the cheesy ricotta on top. Pull each triangle of pastry over the filling, then fold the pointed ends back on themselves.
- Scatter over the remaining cheese and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden.
2. Roasted Christmas vegetables4
- 1.5kg King Edward potatoes
- ½ a bulb of garlic
- ½ a bunch of fresh rosemary
- Olive oil
- 50g unsalted butter
- 2kg parsnips
- 2 tbsp runny honey
- ½ a bunch of fresh thyme
- 1kg Chantenay carrots (or use small regular carrots cut in half lengthways)
- 1 orange
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7.
- Peel and halve the potatoes. Scrub the parsnips clean, then slice in half lengthways. Parboil both in separate pans of boiling salted water for 10 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes in a colander and leave to steam dry for 2 minutes. Give the colander a few shakes to fluff up the edges.
- Squash the garlic cloves with the back of a knife. Separate the rosemary into sprigs, then put half to one side. Scatter the rest over the potatoes with the garlic, a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, 4 tablespoons of oil and 30g of butter. Toss again.
- Tip into a roasting tray and arrange in one layer, then roast for 45 minutes or until golden.
- While the potatoes are in the oven, drain the parsnips and pick the thyme leaves. Toss the parsnips with the honey, thyme, a pinch of salt and pepper, 10g of butter, and 2 tablespoons of oil.
- Tip the parsnips into a roasting tray (you can use the same tray as the potatoes if it’s big enough to arrange everything in one layer). Then, roast for the remaining 40 minutes or until golden.
- Pick and finely chop the remaining rosemary, then finely grate the orange zest and mix together.
- Peel the carrots, then place in a pan of cold salted water over a high heat. Bring to the boil and cook for 15 minutes, or until tender, then drain.
- Toss the cooked carrots with the remaining butter andseason with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the orange zest and rosemary.
- Remove the potatoes and parsnips from the oven and serve with the carrots.
The fun stuff
Pigs in blankets
Christmas dinner has to include pigs in blankets, but they’re hardly suitable for vegetarians. Don’t let your veggie friends miss out!
Prepare a traditional-style alternative instead, using Quorn cocktail sausages wrapped in Quorn bacon or sundried tomatoes.
Gravy can make or break a Christmas dinner, so make sure your vegetarian guests have a meat-free gravy they’ll love. You can easily find ready-made alternatives – but, if you want the very best, try this delicious vegetarian gravy recipe:
- Roughly chop up onions, carrots, celery, and mushrooms- the amounts will depend on how many you’re cooking for. Fry the veg gently in a large pan with oil, thyme, bay leaves, and rosemary.
- Add port, cranberry sauce, and orange juice to the mixture and cook for a few minutes longer. Stir in 2 tablespoons of flour until the mixture is smooth.
- Add 1 tablespoon of tomato puree and a splash of white wine vinegar. Then add 1.5 litres vegetable stock and bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce it down until its thick enough for gravy.
- Pass it through a sieve and squeeze out all the flavours using the back of a wooden spoon. Serve with your tasty veggie roast!
One final tip: Be sure to make more than you need of your vegetarian Christmas treats, in case the meat eaters decide they prefer them!
Vegetarian Christmas desserts
1. Orange crèmes brûlées with jammy raspberries
Finish with something a little lighter than Christmas pudding, but still beautifully decadent. These orange and raspberry crèmes brûlées have their signature crunchy topping – perfect to impress guests.
These mini tarts are great for picking at after a big meal or as part of a party buffet. You can top them with any fruit you like, but we think raspberries and blueberries are the prettiest.
Vegetarian Christmas snack ideas
Salty and sweet, these fudge bites make a thoughtful and affordable gift.
Make in bulk and give out to all your friends this Christmas, or pop them in a homemade vegan hamper.
2. Gluten-free gingerbread biscuits
Kids will love making these gingerbread biscuits during the school holidays. Cut into any shape you like and decorate!
Vegetarian Christmas bakes
What’s Christmas without a mince pie? We’re leaving a gluten- and dairy-free version out for Santa this year.
2. Ginger loaf cake with coconut caramel
Give festive spice a summer twist with this caramel-topped loaf. Coconut cream and maple syrup work their magic to reduce refined sugar – yet it’s still deliciously moreish.
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