My favourite part of Christmas meals has always been the sides, and luckily most of them are already veggie.
For me, it's all about getting as much flavour into those veg as possible because you can’t just rely on the meat to be the star of the show anymore. Instead of roasting potatoes in animal fat, scorching-hot vegetable oil on the tray does the trick and a good amount of salt in the water when they're boiling helps to get them crisp. You can make a mean gravy by caramelising onions then stirring in some thyme, cornflour, marmite and vegetable stock until thickened. And instead of going for boiled veg, I like to roast halved brussels sprouts with some olive oil and salt until golden then cover them in a maple-mustard vinaigrette.
For the main event, a whole roasted cauliflower is a great one to serve a crowd – you just need to rub some sort of flavourful paste (e.g. harissa) or marinade (e.g. mustard, hard cheese, garlic, oil, thyme) on the outside of a steamed cauliflower and shove it in the oven for 30 minutes. You can jazz it up even more by pouring garlic butter/oil over it before serving. Just saying.
There’s also always the classic of substituting cubed, roasted beetroot or butternut squash for beef in a ‘Wellington’. Many brands of ready-made puff pastry are vegan so it can be an easy way to make a showstopper main. If you’re not vegan, crumble some cheese into it, too, before wrapping up for extra flavour and indulgence. Canapés are probably one of the harder aspects to make.
One of the easiest things would be to use vegetarian frozen sausages instead of regular sausages in a standard sausage roll. You can make your own pastry or just buy pre-made puff pastry for ease. Or you could also easily make little bruschetta and top them with a cannellini bean, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice puree and some roasted veg.
Read more recipes at topwithcinnamon.com