Roasted maple butternut squash with parsnips and pecans | Tips on being vegan at Christmas
I can see how Christmas dinner can be quite daunting if you’re new to being vegan. When someone says ‘Christmas dinner’ I’m guessing what springs to mind for most people is lots of meat, gravy, potatoes in duck fat with a few roasted vegetables. It may seem as though your options are limited as a vegan during Christmas, and I guess in part that’s true (on the ordinary Christmas spread). However with different ingredients and new ways of cooking your vegan Christmas dinner can expand beyond the horizons of a few sad sprouts, coupled with carrots for a colour pop. Below is my recipe for some very delicious and very aesthetically pleasing roasted butternut squash, parsnips and pecans – bring this out to the table and no one will be disappointed! I’ve also written out a few of my tips on how to make your Christmas feasting as delightful as snow on Christmas morning, whilst also being completely plant-based!
- Lynda McCartney. Praise be to Lynda McCartney who have released a new Christmas range, including beef roast with red wine and shallot glaze, beef murshroom and spinach wellington bites, and chorizo cocktail sausages! You can check out all of their vegan products here http://lindamccartneyfoods.co.uk/our-food/vegan-range/
- Find recipes. There are so many cool Christmas recipes out there now which are vegan. All you have to do is type in ‘vegan Christmas recipe’ in on Google or Pinterest (a favourite of mine) and you’ll be face to face with page after page of plant-based recipe delights. Another great source of recipes is PlantBased magazine, right now they have their December Christmas edition which comes with a mini party food recipe mag as well! You can find them here https://www.plantbasedmag.com
- Vegetable gravy. It’s another simple one, but there’s no need to miss out on gravy at Christmas! Make your own vegan gravy (this one looks particularly dazzling – https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/vegan-gravy/ ) or simply use vegan gravy granules.
- Spruce up your veggies. Christmas veg can definitely go beyond sprouts, carrots and parsnips. I love roasting all sorts of veg – cauliflower, broccoli, kale, butternut squash, sweet potato, red onion – the list goes on. I like roasting mine with a little olive oil, maple syrup, sea salt flakes, cracked black pepper and whichever type of nut takes my fancy.
- Roast potatoes in oil, not duck fat. It’s a simple change, and the outcome continues to be beautifully crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside roast potatoes.
- Pudding. Christmas pudding is usually vegan (check the label just in case) – spruce it up with a little cashew cream and you’re good to go. If you’re not a fan of Christmas pudding, there are plenty of other options. Here are a couple of my favourites…
- The Nigella Lawson Dark and Sumptuous Chocolate Cake – https://www.nigella.com/recipes/dark-and-sumptuous-chocolate-cake
- My Hazlenut Choc Espresso Pots – http://katfletcher.co.uk/recipes/hazlenut-choc-espresso-pots/
- CAFÉ NERO ALSO DO VEGAN MINCE PIES
So there are my tips on how to enjoy Christmas when you’re vegan. Your Christmas feasting may be quite different to the conventional Christmas food, but by no means do you have to miss out on food which is tasty and special. I’m particularly looking forward to enjoying the Bendicks mint chocolates we get every year… plus some vegan Baileys if I can get my hands on it!
Now onto my roasted Christmas veg recipe, this is a sure way to spruce up your veg and have something that a little bit special on the dinner table!
Ingredients (serves 4 as a side dish):
½ butternut squash
1tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
2 tsp ground cumin
2½ tbsp olive oil
Sea salt flakes
Cracked black pepper
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
75g pecan nuts
Zest of half an orange
- Start by preheating the oven to 250°C. then cover a large baking tray with greaseproof paper.
- Roughly chop the butternut squash and parsnips (make the butternut squash chunks slightly smaller as they take a little longer to cook). Place onto the baking tray then coat evenly with the maple syrup, 2 tbsp olive oil, ground cumin, and a sprinkling of black pepper and sea salt flakes. Spread all of the veg out so that none of the pieces are touching each other.
- Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile coat the rosemary sprigs and pecan nuts in the remaining ½ tbsp of olive oil.
- Once the 15 minutes is up, take the tray out of the oven and add the pecans nuts, rosemary and zest from the orange. Place back in the oven and turn the heat down to 150°C. Roast for a further 15 minutes.
- Once the veg is soft on the inside and the nuts are beautifully roasted, take the tray out of the oven and transfer everything to a serving dish. Top it all off with the pomegranate seeds for a pink pop!