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Recipes: Vegetarian Christmas

905401_30009729Christmas dinner is a very meat focused affair and although I do enjoy turkey, I think that turkey and ham are weird together. The sprouts are little green spheres of pure deliciousness but in general vegetables are a tad boring at Christmas and I think vegetarians get a bum deal on the day.

Well, if you fancy skipping the turkey this year or just want a more interesting choice of vegetables at the dinner table, here are a couple of vegetarian dishes that will compliment the usual Christmas spread and may have the meat eaters pushing the turkey aside.

These recipes can be made ahead of time so not adding to the usual stress levels. The leek and caramelised onion tart is a little like a French onion soup turned into a tart thus combining two of my favourtite things. You can substitute the creme fraiche with goats cheese and if you don’t fancy making making the dough yourself; you can use ready-rolled pastry sheets.

The second dish is Celeriac, Squash and Walnut-thyme Gratin which also has a very seasonal taste to it. I absolutely love celeriac and only discovered it relatively recently, it has such a distinctive flavour and is particularly good in mash potato. I plan on incorporating it into a number of sides over the season and this dish is definitely going to be served up.

Do you think Vegetarians get left out at Christmas and do have any interesting vegetarian alternatives to the usual fodder?

Leek and Caramelised Onion Tart

Serves 8 – 10


  • 40g butter
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 leeks, sliced lengthwise and thinly sliced (white part only)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup crème fraîche
  • Ready-rolled pastry sheets
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon cold water


  1. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When it foams, add ¼ of the onions and leeks. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook until onions and leeks are caramelised and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper. Remove from the pan and place in a bowl. Cook remaining onions and leeks in two more batches, using 1 tablespoon of the butter per batch.
  2. Combine herbs and crème fraîche with onion-leek mixture and check the seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if necessary, and let the mixture rest until it has cooled, about 5 minutes.
  3. Heat the oven to 200°C and arrange a rack in the middle. Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough out into a round approximately 11 inches in diameter. Cut the dough into a 10-inch round (an overturned dinner plate and a knife work great). Lay the dough on a baking sheet and evenly spread the filling throughout, leaving a 1-inch border. Fold the perimeter of the dough (the outer 1 inch) over the filling and flute the edge by pinching it between your forefingers.
  4. Make an egg wash by whisking the egg yolk with the cold water. Brush the outer edge of the tart with the wash. Place on the middle rack of the preheated oven and bake until the bottom of the crust is golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Celeriac, Squash and Walnut-Thyme Gratin

Serves 8 – 12


For the topping:

  • 250g breadcrumbs
  • 60g butter, melted
  • 100g finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the gratin:

  • 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, cut in half, and seeded
  • 1 medium celeriac, peeled and cut in half
  • 30g butter
  • ½ onion, thinly sliced


For the topping:

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until butter is incorporated. Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the gratin:

  1. Heat the oven to 200°C and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a baking dish with butter and set aside.
  2. Pour cream into a large bowl and set aside. Slice squash and celeriac into ¼-inch-thick pieces, placing pieces into the cream as they are cut. Toss until well coated.
  3. Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. When it foams, add onion and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes; set aside.
  4. Construct gratin by ladling a thrid of the squash and celeriac mixture into the baking dish, then seasoning well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with half of the onions, then another layer of squash and celeriac. Season the second layer with salt and pepper and cover with the remaining onions. Place the last of the squash and celeriac on top and press down to create an even surface. Season with salt and pepper, then pour the remaining cream over top.
  5. Sprinkle the topping evenly over gratin. Bake until vegetables are soft and top is golden brown, about 40 to 50 minutes.


  1. I used to be a vegetarian, but I recovered. I had to laugh at this though “vegetarians get a bum deal on the day”. Surely its just the meateaters that get bum?

    Nigella has a lovely recipe for butternut orzotto. In fact, her Christmas book got me through last season. Her gingrbread was made at least four times over the two weeks.

  2. In my experience, veggies don’t get left out as long as they’re willing to do some of the cooking themselves! Nut roast gets a bad rap but I have a fabulous cheese and nut loaf that I make every Christmas and which stands shoulder to shoulder with meaty alternatives:

  3. Nice recipes, Rercy.

    For me the best part of xmas dinner is stuffing, brusselers and gravy. Ooh, and roast parsnips. If those elements are in place I’m generally happy.

    Though this year I have been scouring the wonderful books by Rose Elliot, veggie writer supreme. She does amazing things with mushrooms and chestnuts. Mushroom Wellington anyone?

  4. I suspect I will be eating a lot of bums this Christmas..yum bum. Great veggie recipes on offer here though – thanks.

  5. It wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t eat some of my mother’s delicious bum.

  6. I am also a vegetarian and my body has never been in a very good shape. Being a vegan can really make you much heathier.*.~

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