Are you considering cooking up a Vegan Christmas dinner this year? Or looking to introduce knockout vegan sides to serve at the Christmas table?
Thanks to the rise in popularity of plant-based diets in recent years, turkey alternatives have come a long way from a dry nut roast as the only option.
Over the past few years we’ve spoken to top UK chefs and mixologists, who have shared their top tips for a decadent plant-based Christmas. From celebratory pre-dinner snacks and cocktails, to visually stunning main courses, and even a wind-down festive cocoa to take you to bed, here’s some of our favourite tips, tricks and recipes to inspire you this festive season – and they are as easy as they are delicious.
A VEGAN CHRISTMAS DINNER: PREP
When it comes to cooking the tastiest vegan Christmas dinner, there’s not many chefs we would trust more than Kirk Haworth, co-founder and chef of Plates, one of London’s most innovative vegan restaurants and cook schools.
Kirk has spent 16 years perfecting his craft in Michelin-starred restaurants around the world including three Michelin-starred The French Laundry, Restaurant Sat Bains, The Square and Quay in Sydney, to name but a few.
In 2016, a diagnosis with Lyme Disease led Kirk to overhaul his lifestyle and explore a plant-based diet in pursuit of health. After discovering that an anti-inflammatory diet without meat, gluten, refined sugar or dairy impacted the intensity of his symptoms, the Plates food ethos was born.
“Plates follows my personal journey in food, a chef’s journey into 100% plant-based eating and cooking.”
Kirk’s unique perspective delivers plant-based creativity at the highest level. He proudly also nurtures a rare working environment for his team that focuses on balance and well-being, without compromising on taste or drive for success. Taking all that nature has to offer, Kirk delivers modern, plant-based food with Michelin standard execution. And his vegan Christmas dinner ideas are no exception.
“Plant- and vegetable-led cookery can be hearty and warming just as much as a roast turkey,” he says. “To wow people through plant creativity at such a special time of year is something that is truly humbling and rewarding. The best thing is to excite and make people happy through cooking.”
Before we get down to the cooking, Kirk reminds us the first and most important rule of cooking a fantastic plant-based Christmas dinner is to PREP. Stay stress-free by prepping as much as you can the day before, play to your strengths and keep things as simple as you need them to be.
A VEGAN CHRISTMAS DINNER: CANAPÉS
OVEN-ROAST CHILLI CHICKPEAS
When it comes to entertaining guests over the festive period, Kirk shared with us recipes for your party canapés. And believe it or not, two cans of chickpeas are the key ingredient.
- 2 cans chickpeas
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1½ tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ¾ tsp kosher salt.
1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Rinse and drain the chickpeas. Keep the brine in a separate bowl.
3. Place the chickpeas on a towel and pat gently to dry. Place another towel on top, then use your hands to rub the chickpeas and remove as many of the chickpea skins as possible. Do this once or twice; it should only take a few minutes and it’s not necessary to remove all of the skins.
4. In a medium bowl, stir together chickpeas with the olive oil, chilli powder, black pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, and kosher salt.
5. Pour chickpeas onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread them into a single layer. Bake for about 45 to 60 mins until crispy and dry, shaking the pan every 15 mins. The exact bake time varies, so watch closely in the final minutes, taste test, and remove when the chickpeas are browned but before they become very dark and hard.
6. Allow to cool for about 10 mins before storing; the chickpeas will crisp up even more as they cool. Stored in an airtight container in a dry cupboard, the chickpeas will last for up to one week.
SMOKEY GLAZED ALMONDS
- 450g almonds
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ½ tbsp salt
- ⅛ tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp Spanish-style smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp ground cumin seed
- 50g chickpea brine
- 1 tbsp water
- 3 dashes tabasco sauce
- ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce.
1. In a mixing bowl add all the dry ingredients and mix. Add the almonds and the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly.
2. Spread out on a tray and bake at 180C for 10-15 mins until golden.
A VEGAN CHRISTMAS DINNER: MAIN COURSE
TOM HUNT’S VEGAN CENTERPIECE: A SWEDE PRETENDING TO BE A HAM
Of course a vegan option doesn’t have to imitate a meat one, as award-winning chef and climate change campaigner Tom Hunt is fully aware. But this recipe from his latest book Eating for Pleasure, People & Planet is a fabulously festive Christmas dish.
“Swede is scrumptious roasted whole, however, coating it with sugar and mustard makes it irresistible, tipping the level of satisfaction to the extreme,” says Hunt. “This dish makes a great centrepiece for any table and is perfect served hot or even cold the next day, when I love it sandwiched between two thick slices of bread with extra mustard and plenty of watercress.”
- 1 swede, about 500g
- 12 cloves
- glug of extra virgin olive oil
- 30g unrefined sugar
- 20g mustard
- To serve: sauerkraut; watercress
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
2. Score the swede all over with a knife, cutting about 1cm into the flesh in a criss-cross pattern.
3. Stud the top with cloves, arranging them evenly over the surface. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle lightly with salt.
4. Wrap the swede in a large sheet of unbleached parchment paper and place in a small ovenproof dish. Roast in the oven for 1 hour, then remove the parchment and return to the oven for a further 30-60 mins, or until the swede is well cooked.
5. At this point, remove the swede from the oven and turn down the temperature to 120C/250F/Gas Mark 1.
6. Mix the sugar and mustard together in a small bowl and coat the swede all over with the mixture. Return to the oven and cook for 20-30 mins.
7. Carve at the table and serve with sauerkraut and watercress, or set aside to cool and serve sliced in sandwiches.
VEGAN SIDES: WHAT’S A MAIN WITHOUT ALL THE TRIMMINGS?
Sadly, there won’t be any Christmas miracles that will turn us into a Michelin-starred chef before Jesus’s big day, but at least we can learn something from Kirk. Here are his simple and effective vegan Christmas dinner tips to elevate your sides from acceptable to exceptional.
CRISPY AND FLUFFY ROAST POTATOES: ROAST POTATOES AND COCONUT OIL
- If possible, use Maris Piper potatoes. Bring your potatoes up gently from cold water with a pinch of salt.
- Place a deep roasting tray with 100g of organic coconut oil in the oven at 180℃.
- Cook until al dente, drain the water, put the lid back on the pan and shake aggressively until fluffy around the outside.
- Place potatoes onto the hot tray and roast until golden brown for 45 to 60 minutes, turning the potatoes every 15 minutes.
MAKING VEGAN BRUSSELS SPROUTS SEXY (WITHOUT PANCETTA):
- To keep people coming back for more brussels sprouts, simply mix in some roast chestnuts, truffle oil and a good pinch of Maldon Sea Salt.
OTHER SIDE RECOMMENDATIONS (FROM KIRK HAWORTH):
- Juniper Roasted Parsnips
- Smoked New Season Onions
- Cranberry and Rosehip Sauce
- Nutmeg and Oatmilk Bread Pudding
- Onion and Kombu Gravy
VEGAN CHRISTMAS DINNER: DESSERT
Of course, Christmas dinner wouldn’t be complete without something sweet.
Kirk recommends rapping up the day with some warm vanilla rice pudding, sweet and sour clementine, and pine and candied parsnip.
FESTIVE CACAO HOT CHOCOLATE FOR ALL THE FAMILY
There’s hot chocolate and then there’s hot chocolate. This is a wonderful recipe for making Christmas feel that little bit more special.
- 300 ml oat milk
- 1 tbsp cacao powder (100% organic, natch)
- 2 tbsp agave Syrup
- 1 star anise
- 1 pinch of cinnamon
1. Whisk all the ingredients together in a pan over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.
2. Remove star anise before serving.
A VEGAN CHRISTMAS DINNER: WINES AND COCKTAILS
What better way to ring in the festive season with a bottle of wine – or two. Needless to say, over the Christmas period it’s handy to always have a bottle of something in the fridge to serve to people who come to you, or to take if you’re visiting someone else.
A word of caution, you’ll want to make sure your wines are vegan – Pale Fox Prosecco and Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial are two sparkling recommendations from Kirk Haworth.
If you want to make something a little fancy, here’s a recipe from Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, who has won an incredible amount of awards for his innovation in the international bar scene.
He says: “Having drinks prepared for the season, or even having pre-made liqueurs, can mean there’s always a perfect drink to quickly knock up for friends dropping in. Drinks lengthened with bubbles also provide the perfect feeling of celebration!”
BOTTLED ST CLEMENTS
- 400ml VSOP cognac
- 100ml Merlet Triple Sec
- 150ml Lillet Blanc
- 5ml Angostura bitters.
1. Mix all together and then bottle.
2. To serve, chill and serve over ice or serve in a highball over ice and top with chilled ginger ale.
3. Garnish with an orange wedge studded with cloves.
It’s as simple as that!
If you want to serve something fancy but don’t want to make it yourself, check out cocktail delivery kits from the likes of award-winning Soho-based cocktail bar Nine Lives.