Christmas dinner in our house has always been a pretty joyous occasion. Folk from Yorkshire love a roast, and at our Christmas table, amongst the napkins and crispy veg and crackers with shit jokes in you can find a little present for each person, a little something to make the excitement of the morning last through lunch.
My mum cooks a mean turkey, and her roasties are well known to be fantastic – but these days, she has two little grandkids running around as well as a house full of bickering relatives, so you might say that she has enough on her plate without having to deal with crafting an entirely different meal for her difficult vegan daughter. You might also say that a meal that nut roast and stuffing are basically the same thing, so a vegan Christmas dinner might not want both. For these reasons, I have taken Vegan Christmas Dinner into my own hands this year.
And oh, I have some big plans.
As I’ve discussed with friends lately, there’s nothing worse than passing up the opportunity to have a fantastic meal, and that’s never more true than on Christmas Day. A wet meal can bring your whole day down – so a bit of forward planning is more than justified.
For Christmas starter this year, I’m making these phenomenal Mushroom, Walnut and Spinach Puff Pastry Rolls, on a bed of fennel, chickpea and balsamic salad. Now, you might notice that these are a bit sausage-rolly. Yes. Yes they are.
I’ve adapted this from a Jamie Oliver recipe which you can find here; I thought Jamie’s, though gorgeous, sounded a little bland and bready, so I’ve added some flavour, removed some breadcrumbs and changed the method up a little. You’re ever inspiring, Jamie!
The key to not losing your mind with this recipe is using pre-made puff pastry. Both the Jus’ Rol and Tesco’s Own brands are vegan, and cheap, so get yourself some and keep it in the freezer – all you need to remember to do with the pastry is to defrost it on Christmas Eve morning.
You can prep these in 20 minutes flat, then just bang them in the oven 25 minutes before everyone is sitting down to the Big Meal. You can also make them large or small, depending on your plans. They can be a big plateful, or they can be finger food. Whatever you fancy. For a nice starter, cut them a little smaller and serve a couple on top of a nice, fresh salad – my choice is the one above, which I’ll be posting the recipe for tomorrow!
(Feeds 3-4 as a main when coupled with salad, or 6-8 as a starter)
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
10 mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon granular Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2-3 large handfuls spinach
1 cup walnuts, chopped finely
4 sprigs thyme, with the leaves picked and finely chopped
freshly ground pepper
1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry, defrosted (Jus’ Rol or Tesco’s Own are both vegan)
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and grease a baking tray or line it with greaseproof paper
In a frying pan, heat a little oil and add in the onion and garlic
Heat gently for a couple of minutes
Add in the mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes
Add in the Dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar, stir well, and cook until the liquid has mostly gone
Remove from the heat
Bring a pan of water to the boil, throw in the spinach and cook for 1 or 2 minutes until the spinach has wilted
Drain and blend to a paste
Add 2/3 of the walnuts into the spinach paste, then blend for several seconds (this should be a pesto sort of thing)
Add the spinach paste, the rest of the walnuts and the thyme to the mushroom mixture and mix well. Season
Cut your puff pastry in half length ways, giving you two equal, long pieces, then spoon half the mixture along the middle of one, making it into a sausagey shape with your hands or a spoon. Do the same with the other piece of pastry and the rest of the mixture
Brush the long edges of the pastry with almond milk, then fold one long edge over the mixture to meet the other edge, and crimp with a fork. Repeat with the other set
Cut each length into 3 or 4 pieces
Brush the tops with almond milk and place onto the tray, then bake for 25-30 minutes unti golden
Serve – ideally on top of the Fennel, Chickpea and Balsamic Salad, recipe coming tomorrow!
If you fancy something a bit more interesting than melon for your Christmas starter this year, give these a go! You’ll fall in love with them just like I have.