Our family has varied dietary preferences which makes it a little tricky to cater for when we all gather together for a Christmas meal. We have meat eaters, one pure vegetarian, and a couple of fish and veg only (is that a pescatarian? Or maybe pesky veggie!). Anyway, one of them lapsed on Xmas day and enjoyed a locally sourced and reared turkey. My role this Christmas was to assist, prepare vegetables and conjure up ideas for Brussel sprouts in particular. I would recommend those Christmas dishes to anyone who needs to feed a vegetarian at a family gathering. Who knows, they may even tempt some committed meat eaters.
This year a Brussel sprout “tree” was purchased, kept in an outdoor shed, eventually stripped, destalked, de-outer leafed and chopped (not tried them shredded as yet). In the past, there has been liberal use of soya sauce and sesame seeds. This year I blanched them all, sizzled half with tossed shallots, parsley. I added a sprinkle of seaweed crackers, which don’t crack but are soft and give a tang almost like anchovies in the mix. I thought it worked rather well.
The remainder was sautéed with crushed garlic, some herbs and good cooked garden potato chunks then stewed in some sour cream or something similar. Maybe not very Christmassy but OK for afterwards.
A similar treatment with cream was used for a mix of Jerusalem artichokes and celeriac, with lemon and tangerine zest, put in the oven with breadcrumbs on the top. Tasted good but both were a challenge to peel! I added a few small carrots for colour but chopped parsley would also have looked and tasted as good.
The main vegetarian dish was filo pastry overlapping in a square tin. The recipe for chard, lemon and cheese pie was based on one from BBC Good Food website, except we used spinach instead of chard. This was excellent, and went well with cranberry sauce, prepared by cooking the berries in soft brown sugar, orange zest and juice till they split. We had great roast potatoes, roughed up and roasted in butter with a little oil, and roasted carrots with lots of parsley. A feast indeed!
A proper vegetarian meal was inspired by Anna Jones’s new book, The Modern Cook’s Year, a Christmas present. It was fritters made from soaked cashew nuts and minced green beans (similar to her other fritter recipes here). I think walnuts were also used to get the measurements correct, which gave a bit more crunch. We served it with plain rice and shredded carrot with dressing. This recipe would be of some help if anyone (I don’t) has glut of beans in the summer. I did not make it, just enjoyed it!
In addition to those culinary inspirations, I have been gathering ideas for this year’s gardening. I was lent a No Dig Vegetable gardening book (Charles Dowding) which makes for interesting reading. He is keen on tidying and clearing – I must try harder! But perhaps this is a matter for another post.