It's the season to be jolly-feeding your veggie guest

Posted on 20th December, 2017

Well it’s nearly here and no doubt some of you will have invited a dreaded vegetarian to lunch or dinner on Christmas Day. Despair not because they are not generally ogres, excessively fussy or indeed that put out most of the time if you serve them a really nice plate of the beautifully cooked vegetables you’re serving to the other guests. However there’s no real excuse for not exercising the creative cook hidden inside us all and surprising them with their own alternative to the meat element everyone is tucking into. Having said that it may not be the ideal time, considering the usual festive stress, to embark on a dish that would grace a Michelin star restaurant.


Now before I go on I’ll just say I don’t actually have to go through the Christmas Dinner preparation because I am lucky enough to be escaping to slightly milder climes and my Christmas Dinner will be cooked up by a chef (lucky me). It has not always been thus and I have cooked many a Christmas lunch in the past. I’m going to completely ignore the obvious ‘Nut Roast’ I’ve yet to meet one that is readymade which is fit to serve to guests and I haven’t found a recipe that I’m happy with for such a highly charged occasion.


What then are your options when you have to feed the one or two vegetarians who will grace your celebratory table?


Here are my tips to avoid the stress.


  1. Make it simple
  2. Use the various and beautifully cooked vegetables you have already planned to serve with your turkey/goose/duck/beef as the basis for a special dinner. Remember the vegetables don’t need to play second fiddle.
  3. Make sure you have some Portobello mushrooms as a standby-stuffed with the same non-meat stuffing you are already using (breadcrumbs/herbs/lemon etc) and baked for 15 minutes they will easily replace the meat element on your guest’s plate. Or follow this link to a festive recipe
  4. Filo pastry lasts for ages in the fridge, a great emergency standby and Filo parcels are simple and quick to make. Follow the link for a great recipe, sadly not one of mine but good nonetheless.
  5. A stuffed butternut squash ticks all the boxes-fill with a mixture of Quorn or Soya mince cooked with onions and vegetables or any of the bean family and moistened with a little stock. Roasted until soft. Or again follow the link to a festive recipe, again not mine but very tasty.
  6. Or why not just go with a medley of sautéed mushrooms, there are so many types. Cooked in a little butter or good oil and seasoned. This is not a fussy option but again is suitable to replace the meat element to serve with the rest of the vegetables.
  7. Add a bit of seasonal pizzazz to your sprouts by blanching them, then roasting them in a little oil. Stir in a few crushed nuts while their cooking for a festive kick.


Remember your veggie guests don’t want roast potatoes cooked in goose/duck fat nor do they want gravy made with meat juices but other than this there are no real pitfalls. Simplicity is the key, as before I can only reiterate that now may not be the time to explore an exotic vegetarian centrepiece, particularly one that doesn’t sit well alongside roast potatoes, sprouts, carrots etc etc.


Have a happy, stress-free Christmas Dinner and most of all make a resolution to cook more meals from scratch next year. Why not have a meat-free day at least once a week too. See you all on the other side.





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