Friday, 16 December 2011

Vegetarian Christmas Dinner Menu Ideas

Cooking for vegetarians can be a minefield at Christmas unless you know the person you are cooking for very well. Vegetarians and Vegans have differing degrees of how vegetarian or vegan they are and what they will or won't eat. Some don't eat meat but eat fish, some don't eat meat or fish but will eat animal fats and rennet, some will eat animal bi-products and others are completely vegan and don't eat anything animal related. The best thing to do is to check with the person you are cooking for and ask them exactly what they will or will not eat and what their likes or dislikes are. If you are really stuck then perhaps you could ask if the person would be willing to bring their own main course so that they can guarantee they get something they like. I never mind taking my own main along as long as I have advance notice.

In this post I am listing a few ideas for Vegetarian starters and mains. Some of these are shop bought and can be cooked from fresh or frozen and others can be made from scratch. These are only a few ideas to scratch the surface. Googling "Vegetarian Christmas" will bring up a lot more ideas if you are still stuck.

Starters
Soup: Tomato, Butternut Squash, Pumpkin, Vegetable, Broccoli & Stilton, Carrot & Coriander etc
Melon: On it's own or served with berries or slices of orange twisted over the top
Breaded Mushrooms - These can be bought & served with Sour Cream & Chive,Onion & Garlic, BBQ or Tomato dip
Stuffed Mushrooms: Stuffed with cheese, vegetables, nuts or whatever takes your fancy!
Warm fresh Camembert or Brie: Served with lashings of Chutney and fresh Bread
Breaded Camembert or Brie: Served with Cranberry Sauce and fresh Bread
Mini Goats Cheese and Red Onion Tarts: Drizzled with a Balsamic Reduction
Goats Cheese, Pepper & Spinach Roulade: Served with fresh bread or crackers
Cheese Souffle 
Cheese Fondue

Mains
For me as a vegetarian, the main thing to remember when serving Vegetarian alternatives to Christmas dinner is to choose something that complements the rest of the food. I still want to eat the roast potatoes, vegetables, stuffing and the rest of paraphernalia which comes with a Christmas dinner. So I want something which will taste delicious with the rest of the food, and not something like pasta or risotto which really does not goI am also not a big fan of Nut Roast as I find it dry and unexciting, so I would not like to find that on my Christmas dinner plate. Some dishes which contain lashings of cheese or lots of cheddar cheese sauce don't really go with the gravy or other flavours in a Christmas dinner either. If you are serving a dish with cheese in, try and pick a cheese which will complement the rest of the food and make sure the cheese is vegetarian. 

Here are some of my ideas for Vegetarian Christmas dinner: 

Festive Strudel - My own original recipe
Mushroom and Cranberry Wellington
Mushroom, Cranberry and Chestnut Loaf
Quorn Roast
Quorn Chicken Fillets served in a white wine/red wine, or Stilton sauce
Quorn Cheese and Broccoli Escalopes
Quorn Chicken and Vegetable Pie - My own original recipe
Vegetable Gratin
Cheese & Vegetable Puff: This recipe could be adapted if you just used the ratatouille, spinach and nutmeg as the ingredients.  

Things to remember when cooking for Vegetarians:
  • Many Vegetarians will not eat roast potatoes cooked in goose fat, so maybe consider doing a separate vegetarian batch.
  • Vegetarians will not eat poultry gravy so make separate vegetarian gravy also.
  • Vegetarians do not eat gelatine so trifles or mousses containing jelly or gelatine are not considered vegetarian.
  • Some Vegetarians will not eat food cooked in the same oven as the turkey.
  • Similarly, try not to use utensils which have touched the meat to serve the vegetables or vegetarian dishes.
  • Some Cheeses are not suitable for Vegetarians so do check before using. The Veg Society website has a good comprehensive list.
  • Do check the packaging of other products you use to check whether they are suitable for vegetarians.

There are some great meat free Christmas dinner ideas on the Veg Society website. The Guardian website also features some veggie ideas from celebrity chefs.  I hope this has been helpful and am happy to answer any queries or questions or make recommendations about things you could cook for vegetarians for any meals of the year. Feel free to email or tweet me and I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season!

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