Monday, January 18

Ideas to eat more vegetables at Christmas (and keep the table a party)

If you have stopped eating meat, poultry and fish, have decided to drastically reduce their consumption or have embraced veganism, surely Christmas will not be the easiest date of the year for you. Sharing a table with family and friends during parties in which meat has historically been synonymous with celebration and abundance puts you in the spotlight (and also makes you the star of constant questions and comments that are more or less uncomfortable or sneering).

But eating well, tasty and festive without animal protein being the protagonist – or even not having any presence – is perfectly possible, and the suggestions that we offer below are a very good example of this. Cheeses, mushrooms, vegetables, salads and roasts that accompany or fill croquettes, cannelloni, spreads and delicious creams that will delight fans of scooping: here are our ideas for a Christmas menu where vegetables are the real stars.


It is unusual for vegetarians and vegans consume versions of soy from animals such as shrimp or prawns, but Christmas meals can be one of them. Marta Martínez, blog author I vegan diet They accept it for a purely social reason: if mothers or fathers cook, they feel that putting a “festive” food on the table also for them is putting their food on a par with that of others. “At this time, it does not matter if what you eat is completely healthy or not, or that it is not something you would eat regularly: it is easier for everyone to do so,” he resolves. “Especially for starters, they can be a good option. Better to ask the guests first if they like them, because they are expensive products and some people avoid them because of the texture, ”Martínez also points out.

Patés or spreads with nuts and / or legumes as a base are also an option that everyone can enjoy. This option of Dance of Stoves, with dried tomato, cashews or almonds, piquillo peppers, oregano and garlic, perfect to serve with tostaditas. Marmite, nutritional yeast or flaked nori seaweed also help to give a kick of flavor and power to any vegetable or nut pate. Vegetable crudités accompanied by different types of pesto will put a fresh and light point on the table.

A good cheese board – varied and accompanied by some fruits such as grapes and nuts or dehydrated fruits such as dried apricots – can perfectly substitute for Iberian ham if you want to do without it. A baked Camembert cheese, with a splash of white wine and a little garlic, accompanied by different types of bread and a couple of jams will also win the audience’s prize (when has cheese failed us?).

Croquettes are another unbeatable appetizer, which you can vegetarianize simply by dispensing with the ham, chicken or meat from the stew and replacing them with gorgonzola, pine nuts and caramelized onion, cheddar and hard-boiled egg -very delicious and simpler impossible- or assorted mushrooms and some cheese from Smooth flavor.

If you want to prepare them in a vegan version, use your usual béchamel recipe by changing the butter for olive oil or margarine -nutritionally much less interesting than oil- and the milk for an unsweetened vegetable drink, although you can substitute a part for a vegetable broth powerful. If this is your first time with a béchamel for croquettes, you can use four tablespoons of olive oil (60 ml) and two generous tablespoons of flour – remember to toast it well so that it loses its raw flavor, making sure it does not burn – for each 600 ml of vegetable drink.

Stuffed mushrooms also offer endless versions, and we can also have them prepared in advance to bake on the spot. If we prepare a poached minced onion base, we can make three different fillings at a time; one with chopped almonds and brie cheese, another with garlic, parsley and a little oil – a classic that never fails – and another Thai style with coriander, peanuts, chili, lime and, if you like, some shrimp tails.


Salads are very good, but remembering that there is life beyond lettuce, tomato, pepper -two vegetables that are not in season either, except for the raf version and little else- and olives is even more important. If you don’t want to give up on lettuce, try one of the three versions that appear in this video (you can substitute the anchovies for a little miso in the vinaigrette). What salad yes, but less lettuce? Here are three more ideas with spinach and cashews, orange and chicory, and carrots, beets, and goat cheese.

Roasted vegetables are always a tasty option, and if they are prepared well even the most skeptical can end up doing the wave for you. They are usually served as an accompaniment to meat or fish dishes, but if you put a couple of varied and colorful trays in the center of the table, accompanied by a couple of sauces -the pestos from the previous section make sense again here- they have enough substance as to claim the limelight in a round of entrees.

Creams are another great starter that, in addition, can allow us to get to the main course without fainting during the process (raise your hand who has not been so blind to eat and drink during the first part of the celebration that, when the turkey arrives, you have more desire to hug him, tell him your things and take him away than to sink your teeth). Madame du Barry’s Cauliflower is a classic finolis that even the most cauliflower will love, Saffron Orange Pumpkin is fresh and addictive, Caramelized Onion is the creamy version of traditional onion soup and Roasted Eggplant with custard apple will add an exotic and traveled touch to your menu.


In the popular imagination, the key moment of a celebratory and family meal such as Christmas is to bring out a large piece on the table – it can be a turkey, a capon, a poularde, a shoulder of lamb or kid – and carve it right there, distributing the favorite pieces of each one. If you are worried about not finding a vegetarian proposal that allows you to maintain the ritual, you can not worry: a whole roasted cauliflower -or a couple- can perfectly do this role.

You can marinate it with this tandoori masala mix and serve it after roasting it for about 50 minutes, accompanied by a Greek yogurt with coriander and lime juice (for a vegan version you can use unsweetened soy yogurt or oatmeal, both in the marinade and in the accompaniment). You can also marinate it with your favorite spice mix or aromatic herbs, lemon and olive oil; Give it a couple of hours for the dressing to do its job, cook it, serve it in portions at the table and encourage guests to top it with a few generous spoonfuls of Italian sauce, made from cherry tomatoes, olives, capers, basil and, yes you want, some chopped anchovies. But surely the most decandecent recipe -in the best of senses- and Christmas is the one that covers the cabbage with a creamy sauce of cheese and mushrooms: I doubt that anyone asks about turkey.

If what is popular these days in your area is something like escudella and carn d´olla, you can veganize it -and vegetarianize it- in different ways. At home, the vegetarian version of the stuffed galets is prepared with sautéed spinach, gluten or egg and a little cured cheese. Marta Martínez proposes here a ditto version of the pilot, based on pea protein, flax seeds and spices with a fluffiness that surprises from the first bite: you can cook it, along with the galets, in its tasty version of the Christmas stock.

“There are many recipes that can be veganized. In this way, we all eat the same, albeit different versions, and we can feel more integrated, ”says Martínez, something really important on dates like these. “The typical example in Catalonia are cannelloni, which in their vegan version are super attractive”, he points out; If you don’t know where to start, think about substituting the filling for spinach with raisins, pine nuts -and, if you eat it, some fresh cheese- or vegan bolognese, prepare a light béchamel with the same instructions as for the croquettes -but the half flour- and gratin with a mixture of grated bread and dried fruit.


Surely this seems the simplest part, but there are more festive desserts in general and Christmas desserts in particular that have animals and derivatives than we might think. A classic example of the national after-dinner: mantecados, named after the lard that gives them their name and their characteristic flavor (if you want to prepare them in a vegan version, try this recipe from Begin, Vegan, Begun; extra point: they are chocolate). Another sweet – less common at this time, but also very popular – is panna cotta, which has gelatin of animal origin among its ingredients.

The Rice pudding -vegetable- mousse from Danza de Fogones It has a creaminess in which dairy is not missed, and if you want to shape some classic marzipan figures the recipe from the blog Moose Apron it is of proven solvency and simplicity. The truth is that in most houses at the time of dessert, what triumphs the most is a piece of nougat in one hand -which each one prefers- and in the other a pineapple “to degrease. It is time to put one of two things on the table, raise the glass of cava, toast everyone in unison and start with the Christmas carols. Merry Christmas!

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