A Vegetarian Christmas!

Being vegetarian at Christmas is  great – there are so many delicious winter vegetables that will liven up even the most tired of palettes! How about a delicious seasonal salad of honey roasted parsnip, orange segments and rocket salad for starters?

Now onto the Main course and there are a few alternative like a scrumptious roasted Christmas vegetable galette  (that is a bit like a free form tart) or a pastry pizza. Individual red onion, mushroom and rosemary tatins or even a spinach, chestnut and parsnips en croute with marsala sauce. Or see my recipe below for a Roast Butternut Squash Tarte Tatin

Nut Loaf or Nut Roast may sound old-fashioned but it’s a winner and everyone loves it.

Most nut roast dishes involve a little bit of preparation but again it can be done ahead with the Bread Crumb or the brown and wild  Rice being prepared in advance on Christmas eve allowing you to assemble ingredient in your loaf tin ready for baking in the morning.  I am making one this Christmas and will let you know how it goes down I am using an old recipe with a few additions of my own.


  • Allow yourself time – it is not complicated but there are a number of different stages in the process
  • Keep it light with bread crumbs and loads of herbs – these seem to be the most popular option at the moment and I would suggest a wholemeal bread
  • Use a selection of nuts for nutritional value, variety and taste.

Delicious and moist this dish allows you to really explore this season’s fabulous winter ingredients with lots of earthy flavours – swiss chard and mushrooms.

Other seasonal vegetarian Christmas ingredients to include on the menu are sorrel (great for soup), walnuts (can be added to salads and pastas), fennel (perfect for roasting and souping) and of course lots of mushrooms for a lovely earthy flavour.

You will actually find a good selection of vegetarian recipes in my cookbooks and on the cookery classes at Ballyknocken House & Cookery School as I love my vegetables and enjoy at least 2 to 3 or more meat-free days each week.


Here are my suggestions: 

For Starters:

Celeriac Soup with Lemon Gremolata (from my book The Weekend Chef)


Tomato and Mozzarella Layers with Basil

For Mains

Tian of Ballyknocken Vegetables

Served with either a delicious Lentil or Nut Loaf or a Vegetarian Wellington and Lemon Salt Roast potatoes

OR for an Italian twist and I’d be hard pushed to choose between my Oven baked Mushroom Risotto – seasonal and delicious or if you have the time to prepare Roast Pumpkin and Red Pepper Canneolloni is well worth the effort.  (Both recipes from EAT LIKE AN ITALIAN)

For dessert GM-CatherineFulvio-Facebook cover851x315

Now in my new book – BAKE LIKE AN ITALIAN there are so many fabulous treats for the special day as well as after. I would go for:

Panforte di Siena OR a Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

And Italian snowballs for coffee

AND for your Bambini bakes – get them to make chocolate swirl biscuits to keep for when unexpected guests arrive. 

A simple menu idea for your Christmas drinks party, all suitable for vegetarians

  • Pomegranate Sparklers – this is my favourite and will definitely be on offer in our house for the Christmas drinks night with friends and family.
  • Caprese Tartlets
  • Aubergine & Chick Pea Stack
  • Caponata & Olives

beetroot tarte tatin Roast Beetroot & Carrot Tarte Tatin

Roasted butternut, thyme and tomato tarte tatin

Serves 4 to 6

 You can use any roasted vegetables in this one.


30g butter

1 tbsp olive oil

2 onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3 tbsp caster sugar

2 tsp red wine vinegar

½ tsp chopped thyme

½ large butternut squash (about 300g), sliced and lightly roasted

150g cherry tomatoes, washed and kept whole

6 small sprigs of thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

375g “ready to use” puff pastry

Egg wash (1 egg with a little water), to brush

7or 8 small sprigs of thyme, for garnishing

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C/gas 4. Generously brush the sides of a 20cm, lined with parchment, spring form tin with a loose base or even a flan tin with a loose base with melted butter.

Place the tin carefully onto the pastry and cut a circle, leaving an extra 2cm edge all the way around. Set aside.

Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over a medium heat and add the onions, sauté for 4 minutes until softened but not brown.  Add the garlic slices and cook for a further 1 minute.  Pour the sugar, red wine vinegar and thyme into a small bowl and stir well.

To assemble, arrange the cherry tomatoes and butternut squash slices onto the base of the tin with a few sprigs of thyme.  Using tongs lift the onions and garlic onto the tomatoes. Spoon the sugar and red wine mixture over the tomatoes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place the pastry on top of the vegetables and carefully tuck in the edges of the pastry. Brush the top with egg wash.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until the pastry is golden and cooked.

To serve loosen the tin, slide a plate over the top and turnover. Allow to cool slightly, sprinkle with thyme sprigs over the top and serve immediately.

Tip: Slice a few layers of Brussels sprouts and place them in between for a delicious tart.

Pistachio Orange Sauce for Vegetables

Served 4


A great sauce for steamed vegetables

Brussels sprouts, steamed

Asparagus, steamed

Courgette ribbons, steamed

Leek strips, sauted

Green beans, steamed

For the sauce

2 tbsp butter

4 tbsp pistachio

1 orange, juice and zest

Salt and Freshly ground black pepper

  1. To prepare the sauce, melt the butter in a pan, add the pistachio and toast.
  2. Whisk in the orange juice and zest. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Arrange the cooked vegetables on a large platter and spoon over the sauce.  Serve immediately.



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