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Have a vegan guest coming to Christmas dinner?
It can be tricky to come up with ideas for meat- and dairy-free meals and sides that are both satisfying and suitable for the big day. Not to mention keeping the dinner budget-friendly.
With the cost of the items that make up a traditional Christmas dinner expected to rise by 31% in Ireland this year the idea of pulling off a celebratory meal to suit all tastes in 2022 can be daunting.
But fear not; with this list of vegan meals and tips in your back pocket, you’ll impress every kind of eater at the table this year without breaking the bank.
For your centrepiece dish, you’ll want something that’s packed full of flavour. More often than not, vegan festive mains can be treated like an afterthought. A bland, one-note addition to the meal. But it’s Christmas, the happiest time of the year and you’ll need a dish that can sing. The safest bet is a traditional and reliable protein-packed crowd-pleaser like a nut roast.
Lidl’s Deluxe Vegan Festive Nut & Veggie Roast with sage, onion and hazelnut (€3.99) is a low-effort, high-reward main that has all the classic flavours of Christmas. The filling has a crumbly, almost fluffy texture and the pastry should be light and crisp when you cook it. You can also opt for the hazelnut, cashew and cranberry flavour combination or cashew, quinoa and carrot. All selections come with a rich, golden-brown gravy and can be prepared within minutes.
Just pop them in the oven while you get to work on setting the table and adding the finishing touches to the side dishes.
Since a Christmas dinner is about sharing, you’ll have to keep the sides suitable for all guests. You don’t want to be caught out with butter in your mash or drippings in your roasties. They’ll still be talking about you in the new year.
So for the potatoes, roast them in extra virgin olive oil rather than duck/goose fat and add garlic and fragrant herbs like rosemary to ramp up the flavour. If you’re going for mash, you can achieve the beloved creamy texture with olive oil and non-dairy milk. Nobody will notice there’s no butter in there. And if they do... they’re not getting an invite next year!
For a vegan take on buttery carrots and parsnip, try glazing them in margarine or a dairy-free butter and add a sprinkling of brown sugar to draw out their natural sweetness.
The stuffing you choose can really elevate your plate and complete the true best meal of the day (leftover Christmas sandwiches). A hearty, pre-made stuffing is a smart move if you’re low on time and budget. But if you’re struggling to find one without butter, you can make a simple stuffing without too much faff using breadcrumbs, onion, celery, olive oil and salt and pepper.
No meat? No problem. You’ve got it sorted.
● Par boil the potatoes in cold water
● While the potatoes are boiling, heat a tray with some smashed cloves of garlic and plenty of olive oil
● Drain the potatoes and pop them into the heated tray, season with salt + pepper and add some fresh rosemary on top
● Shake the tray about. This will help to create crispy roast potatoes
● Pop the peeled whole carrots and parsnips into a tray with a dash of honey and season with salt + pepper
● Bake the vegan nut roasts as per pack instructions
● Score your brussels sprouts at the bottom and pop them into a skillet to fry in olive oil
● After five minutes or so flip your brussels sprouts over and add maple syrup, a squeeze of lemon juice, a dash of soy sauce and garlic and then garnish with scallions and black pepper.
● Pop your deluxe cranberry sauce into a nice bowl and you are ready to serve
Hope you have a very vegan Christmas this year!