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Monday, 17 December 2012

Christmas part 2 - The vegetarian

For most, the Christmas dinner menu is based around a giant piece of meat large enough to sink the titanic. However, I feel the need to spend some time writing on behalf of vegetarians as they so often miss out ending up with some crap after thought from the host. For me, December is still an exciting time when it comes to interesting, seasonal vegetables that can be used for either a main course or to accompany the traditional roast.

I’m going to give you a couple of simple, tasty vegetarian alternatives we’ve cooked at some Blend events this year that fit the bill. The first one is a great burger, made with mushroom, spinach, walnut and some cheese.

Mushroom, spinach and walnut burger

These burgers are really tasty and will put a smile on the face of most vegetarians. You can make them the day before and take no more than 15 minutes to prep and cook.

Ingredients – 200g mixed mushrooms, handful of spinach, clove of garlic, 2 sage leaves (chopped), 1 sprig of rosemary, handful of walnuts, 1 cup of polenta, 1 cup vegetable stock and about 100g of parmesan cheese.

Method –Fry the mushrooms, herbs and garlic in a little oil till they soften. Chop the nuts and add along with the spinach. Cook till the spinach is wilted, season generously with salt and pepper and leave to cool.

Make the polenta by boiling 1 cup of vegetable stock, adding the polenta and mixing well till you have a smooth paste. Cook the polenta for 5 minutes over a low heat, grating in the parmesan and adding salt, pepper and an optional knob of butter. Mix the cooked mushroom mix and polenta together, taste and season really well again and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Shape the cooled polenta mixture into burgers, pan fry for 3 minutes on each side or till they are golden brown and heated all the way through. I like to serve them with a nice tomato sauce with some chilli through it.

Beetroot tarte tatin

Tarte tatin doesn’t always need to be a dessert. This dish is another one you can prepare ahead of time and is something a bit different for the vegetarians in our lives. The finished dish is pretty stunning when you turn it out too.

Ingredients – puff pastry, sugar, vinegar (balsamic or red wine are good options here), cooked beetroot, beaten egg, knob of butter.

Method – roll out the pastry to the size of a frying pan and put to one side. Heat the sugar with a splash of water in a pan till you have a light caramel, then add a good splash of the vinegar and the butter. Make sure you don’t stir the caramel or it will go grainy. Arrange the beetroot in the caramel and place the pastry over the top. Brush the pastry with beaten egg and bake in the oven at gas 6 / 190c for about 20 mins till the pastry is cooked through. Flip the tart out and you can crumble some nice cheese over at this stage if you want too.

Please think about vegetarians this Christmas, we carnivores often disregard them serving them some pretty awful food.

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