Whether you’re a vegetarian or fancy something different this year, try these recipes for a vegetarian Christmas dinner main. The go-to dish for non-meat eaters is usually nut roast but these recipes are a little different, and in true Christmas spirit are abundant in cheese, pastry, and good old winter veg.
squash, kale & stilton pie
1 small (750g-800g) butternut squash, peeled & chopped into 1-2cm dice
1 large red onion, finely diced
2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
200g curly kale, washed, leaves stripped from their stalks
4 tbsp double cream
200g blue cheese, crumbled
2 ready-rolled puff pastry sheets
1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat your oven to 220˚C/gas 6. Toss the squash in just enough oil to coat and season. Roast in a baking dish for approx 30 mins, or until just tender. Fry the onion and rosemary in 3 tbsp oil on a low heat for 10 mins, stirring now and then, until softened. If it looks like catching at any point, add a splash of water. Cook the kale in the pan of boiling water for 4 mins, until softened. Drain, refresh in cold water, then drain again and squeeze out any excess moisture. Finely chop. Mix the squash, onion, kale and double cream. Season and cool for 15 mins. Mix in the blue cheese. Unroll the pastry sheets and cut into quarters. Lay 4 pieces on a lightly greased baking tray, score a 2cm border inside the edge of each and pile the veg within it. Dampen the pastry border with some water. Lay the other 4 pastry pieces over the top. Gently stretch to cover, pressing the edges down well to seal. Pull the edges up and over slightly to confirm the seal. Brush the top with beaten egg and bake for 25-30 mins, until crisp, puffed and golden.
leek & tomato crumble
2 tbsp olive oil
600g leeks, trimmed & sliced
450g tomatoes, cut into wedges, seeds removed
300ml veg stock
300g cream cheese
1 tsp dried thyme or 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
for the crumble:
275g plain flour
150g cheddar, grated
100g chopped mixed nuts, toasted
In a large pan, heat the oil and gently fry the leeks for 8 mins, until softened. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 2 mins. Add the stock, cream cheese and thyme. Stir to combine, until the cream cheese has melted and you have a creamy sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste and transfer the mixture to a baking dish. In a large bowl, rub together the butter and flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs (or blitz in a food processor). Add the cheese and nuts and sprinkle the mixture over the leeks. Bake in the oven at 190˚C for 20-30 mins until the topping is golden.
Christmas pie with greens, chestnuts & feta
The pie can be made in advance and frozen uncooked. Defrost before putting in the oven.
400-500g chard, spinach or kale (be generous if using spinach)
200g cooked, peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped
100g walnut pieces, toasted
80g currants, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes & drained
200g feta cheese, crumbled
leaves from 4 sprigs thyme
1 level tsp ground cinnamon
1 level tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground allspice or ground cloves
3 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp olive oil
salt + pepper
500g all butter puff pastry
Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Line a baking sheet with non-stick parchment paper. Pull any hard stalks from the greens, wash the leaves and blanch them in boiling salted water until just tender (or steam them). Drain and rinse immediately under plenty of cold water. Drain again and squeeze out the leaves, chop finely and place in a mixing bowl. Add the chestnuts, walnuts, currants, thyme, spices and olive oil. Set aside 2 tbsp of the beaten egg, then add the remaining egg to the leaves and combine everything thoroughly. Add the feta and mix in carefully so that the pieces of cheese do not break up. Season with salt and black pepper. On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry 3mm thick into a rectangle roughly 25 x 30cm. Pile the filling in a thick tube along the shorter edge and carefully roll up into a cylinder. Brush a little egg where the pastry joins to seal and trim off any overlapping pastry. Place on the baking sheet. Brush the pie with the rest of the egg and cut a few diagonal slashes in the pastry so steam can escape. Bake for 30-40 mins or until golden and the pastry is cooked through. Serve with cranberry sauce.
spanakopita with spring greens & leeks
serves 4-6, prep 15 mins, cook 50 mins
500g spring greens or spinach
2 tbsp oil for frying
500g leeks, trimmed, sliced in half lengthways, then shredded
100g melted butter
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried mint
200g ricotta (or cottage cheese)
handful chopped parsley
handful chopped dill
250g packet filo pastry
2 tbsp poppy seeds
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and blanch the leaves (spinach or spring greens) for 2 mins. Drain, plunge into cold water to stop the cooking and keep the colour, then drain again. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out any excess liquid with your hands, then roughly chop the leaves. Heat the oil and fry the leeks for 6 mins. Add the garlic and mint and fry for 2 mins. Leave to cool, then mix in the chopped leaves. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Stir in the ricotta, crumble in the feta, then add the veg and herbs and stir gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the filo from the packet and lay it out. Cover with a clean, slightly damp tea towel to stop it drying out. Brush the bottom of the dish with a little butter. Lay out a sheet of filo on your work surface and brush with a little melted butter. Lay inside the baking dish; you want some overhanging. Repeat with half the filo, buttering each layer as you go. Spoon in the filling and even it out. Lay over the rest of pastry, brushing each sheet as before. Tuck in the edges and brush with butter to seal. Sprinkle with the poppy seeds. Bake for approx 40 mins, depending on your oven, until golden and crispy.
leek & smoked cheese pithivier
Pithivier is a circular puff pastry pie with a curved pattern cut into it. You could add some sliced mushrooms to the leek mixture.
knob of butter
1kg leeks, finely shredded
100g cream cheese
sea salt & ground black pepper
80g smoked cheddar cheese, grated
2 tbsp chopped chives
2 sheets ready rolled all-butter puff pastry (you need about 600g if making your own or rolling out a block; roll to about ½-¾cm)
1 egg yolk, mixed with a splash of milk
Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the leeks and cook gently for about 10 mins until soft. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Season well. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheddar and chives. Leave to cool completely. Roll out one piece of the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and use a dinner plate as a template to cut around to make a circle. Spread over the leek mixture, leaving a gap of 5cm all the way around the pastry circle. Roll out the other half of the pastry and lay over the top. Press the edges down to seal. Trim the edges. Brush with eggwash. Use a sharp knife to score curved lines on top of the pie and the edges. Bake at 180°C for about 30 mins, until the top is golden brown and the pastry cooked through. Serve warm.
For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.