Aoife Barry has delicious meat- and gluten-free alternatives for your festive feast
The high point of Christmas Day is undoubtedly the food. There's something about the array of foods that makes most people forget about diets and calorie counting and instead focus on sheer indulgence.
Some of you may be anticipating your first Christmas meal without turkey or ham, or without any meat or animal products at all. Others may be contemplating their first Christmas Day without gluten.
Rest assured that neither means your Christmas meal has to be lacking in any way. Here, I have some easy and tasty recipes that I will be tucking into myself: sweet roasted vegetables, stuffing and nut roast. All of these dishes can be made gluten-free and vegan and don't take hours of preparation.
If you're worried you will miss meat, you may find that it was in fact the accoutrements to the main dishes that were your favourites. I certainly found that to be the case when I had my first vegetarian Christmas meal -- I quickly realised that a nut roast serves as a fitting, cruelty-free main dish that's worthy of anybody's plate.
The nut roast featured here is loosely based on Rose Elliott's Cashew Nut Roast, but with many changes. This includes adding protein-rich quinoa to give a moist texture, and dried cranberry for sweetness. Quinoa cooked in vegetable stock is hearty and savoury. I serve it with cranberry sauce.
If you are a coeliac, stock up on gluten-free herbs, spices and breads. If you are unsure what products are suitable for you, contact the Coeliac Society (www.coeliac.ie) for their approved food list.
With 2011 just around the corner, it is a good time to reassess our eating habits and start thinking more about fresh, locally produced food -- organic Irish where possible. If we support local suppliers then we are doing our best not just for our bodies, but for our environment and our local economy.
Have a wonderful Christmas meal, and savour every bite.
Courtesy of the Coeliac Society of
GLUTEN-FREE SAGE AND ONION STUFFING
YOU WILL NEED
227g fresh gluten-free breadcrumbs
(can be made in blender)
57g hard margarine straight from the
½ medium onion, finely chopped
2 tsps sage (check gluten-free food list)
Salt and black pepper
1 medium egg (optional)
Place the gluten-free breadcrumbs, grated margarine, onion, sage and seasoning in a large mixing bowl and combine. Form into balls (you can add one medium egg if not vegan) or spread out in a baking dish and cook in the oven for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
SWEET ROASTED CARROTS AND PARSNIPS
YOU WILL NEED
6 large carrots
4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil (approx)
2-3 tbsps agave syrup
Trim the tops and tails from the parsnips and carrots. Peel the parsnips. Peel the carrots if desired, though if they are organic you can leave the peel on. Cut into your desired shapes, then place in a large roasting dish.
Drizzle the oil over the parsnips and carrots, followed by the agave syrup, and mix well to ensure all the veg is covered with the oil and syrup. Roast at 180°C/Gas Mark 4 for about 40 minutes until the edges are lightly browned and the vegetables are cooked through. The veg should be lightly crispy and have a sweet, caramelised taste.
CASHEW-QUINOA NUT ROAST
YOU WILL NEED
220g quinoa (60g dried, cooked in ½ tbsp vegetable stock/bouillon)
200ml vegetable stock/bouillon
2 tbsps vegan margarine
1 large onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
175g wholemeal/white gluten-free bread
225g raw cashew nuts
2 tsps thyme
2 tsps dried fresh sage
2 tsps dried rosemary
Pinch sea salt
A little freshly ground pepper
100g dried cranberries
Rinse 60g of dried quinoa and add to a saucepan, covering it with twice its volume in water. Add half a tablespoon of vegetable bouillon, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer gently until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa has doubled in size. Leave to one side. Line a 450g/1lb loaf pan with greaseproof paper. Use a little of the margarine to grease the paper well.
Melt a tablespoon of the margarine in a frying pan, add the onion and sweat for about five minutes, then add the minced garlic and continue to sweat for another five minutes. Remove from the heat when softened and translucent. Pre-heat your oven to 200°C?Gas Mark 6. Place the gluten-free (or ordinary bread if not a coeliac) bread in a food processor and process until it forms breadcrumbs.
Place in a large mixing bowl. Grind the cashew nuts in the food processor until they are similar in texture to breadcrumbs, then add to the bowl. Add the quinoa to the bowl and mix well; the quinoa should help the mix come together slightly. Then add the onion and garlic, herbs and seasonings, and dried cranberries (reserve a few cranberries to decorate the loaf if you wish).
Mix well, then add the vegetable stock/bouillon and stir until mixed. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, pressing down so it is well distributed, and dot with a little butter. Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until firm and lightly browned. If it browns before then, cover with foil. When the roast is done, leave it in the pan to cool for a few minutes.
Then remove from the pan and serve immediately, or leave to cool on a wire rack before re-heating. The outside will be lightly crispy while the inside will stay moist.