One of the best parts of Christmas is planning what to eat. But if you have vegetarians or vegans coming to stay, or even if you're just looking for an alternative to the traditional turkey, trying to coming up with fun and interesting meat-free alternatives can be overwhelming. No need to panic though because Demuths Cookery School has come up with some tips and tricks for a dinner that will have everyone feeling quite jolly, whatever their dietary requirements. (Hint: it's really all about the gravy.)
Being on the same page
Communication is key. Are any of your guests vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, lactose intolerant, etc.? All it takes is a quick chat to figure out exactly what they'll need, and they should be used to letting people know. But some general info:
Don't forget that vegetarians won't eat the potatoes if they're cooked around the turkey or the gravy if you are putting turkey juice in it.
Vegans don't eat eggs or butter, so you might need to give your ingredients a closer look.
TIP: Instead of butter, try using rapeseed oil, especially local rapeseed oil. It makes the best roasties because it has a lovely nutty flavour.
Making a match
If you want to try a vegetarian main dish, you'll want one that pairs well with gravy and trimmings.
Try a delicious pie or a rich, flavoursome stew.
Serving a nut roast?
Why not? Nut roasts are delicious! There's nothing better than a really, really good nut roast. You need to make sure it's moist though, that's the important thing. They can also be used as stuffing too, so you can make them multi-task.
TIP: Try serving the nut roast as stuffing balls so they can be the vegetarian option or the stuffing for people having turkey. You want to think about how you can do this as easily as possible, so everybody can eat the vegetarian option as well.
Pouring the gravy
Of course, one of the things we like most about Christmas dinner are all of the things that go with it, especially gravy, and we can help you make the vegetarian gravy of your dreams. Mushrooms are a good start, especially shitake, which have a very strong flavour. Or you can make an outstanding sherry or red wine gravy. Beyond gravy, cranberry relish with cinnamon sticks, cardamom and cloves is always very popular.
Make some extra!
Even the most dedicated turkey fan is likely to be tempted by the alternatives once they see (and smell) how delicious they look so make sure you have plenty to go around.
If you would like to learn how to make vegetarian or vegan festive fare, Demuths Cookery School has a range of festive cookery courses running throughout November and December. Visit www.demuths.co.uk for details.