Saturday 18 November 2017

Christmas for vegetarians: Recipes to cater for your veggie guests at the dinner table

Nut loaf
Nut loaf
Veggie bake
Moroccan Orange Cake

What's a veggie to eat on December 25? Oliver McCabe answers the Christmas conundrum with these delicious festive recipes.

Christmas Fuel Food Nut Roast 

I love my sister Hilary to bits as she assists me at my health food shop, Select Stores in Dalkey, with creating mouth-watering recipes for our customers at this festive time of year. It's always inspirational to have a recipe to look after vegan and vegetarian dinner guests at Christmas, who appreciate a dish like this. It's funny - everyone seems to tuck into and love this festive comfort food from all walks of life.

Serves 6


250g quinoa

400ml water

2 leeks cleaned, peeled & finely chopped

3 carrots peeled and finely chopped

1 tbsp Viridian raw virgin organic coconut oil

150ml vegetable stock

½ tsp nutmeg

1 clove garlic crushed

1 tbsp mixed herbs

1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp sunflower seeds

100g broken cashew nuts


Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5/375°F.

Wash the quinoa and drain it through a sieve, then place it in a large saucepan with the water. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the water has been absorbed.

Heat leeks and carrots in coconut oil over low to medium heat in frying pan for 8 minutes stirring occasionally.

Transfer cooked vegetables to the saucepan with quinoa add stock and rest of ingredients and mix well with wooden spoon until a nut roast dough has formed. Add more stock if too dry.

Cover the base of a 1 pound-baking tin with parchment paper and pour the nut roast mixture into the tin smoothing out around the edges and top with a pallet knife.

Cover with tin foil tightly and pop into the oven and bake for 25 minutes, then take out of the oven with gloves. Take off the tin foil carefully and pop back into oven for another 10 minutes until golden.

Take out once more with oven gloves and leave to cool. Take sides of parchment paper to remove nut roast from tin onto a chopping board. Slice with sharp knife to serve.

Serve with your favourite homemade chutney or roast vegetables.

Dahl Burger party Bites with Classic Christmas Hummus

Get your spice rack ready. These Dahl burger bites take about 40 minutes to make and you can refrigerate, once cooled, for up to three days. They'll bring spice to your Christmas party, as they make perfect canapés with my classic Christmas hummus. Always remember spices and herbs can have an alkalising effect on the body so they are terrific for glowing skin, nails and hair. They are also a good source of magnesium, iron, B vitamins, plant protein, essential fats and dietary fibre. They aid good digestion and are anti-inflammatory. The recipe uses raw organic coconut oil and I always use the Viridian brand.

Makes 32. Vegan-friendly. Sugar, gluten, nut and dairy-free.


3 tbsp raw organic coconut oil

1 large onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp grated fresh root ginger

½ bunch of fresh coriander, leaves reserved, roots and stems finely chopped

1 cinnamon stick

8 cardamom pods, crushed

1 tsp yellow mustard seeds

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground turmeric

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp chilli powder

½ tsp Himalayan fine rock salt

400g split red lentils, soaked

400g sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into large medallions

1½ litre water

150g baby spinach

200g brown rice cooked

100g brown rice flour


Warm 1 tablespoon of raw organic coconut oil in a large saucepan over a low to medium heat.

Add the onion and cook, stirring for 5-8 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, ginger, coriander roots and stems, cinnamon stick, crushed cardamom and mustard seeds, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring.

Add the remaining spices and the salt and cook for 1 minute more, stirring. Add the lentils, sweet potatoes and water to the saucepan and bring to a boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat to low and allow the Dahl to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the lentils have collapsed and the sweet potatoes are tender.

Take off the heat and stir through the spinach and most of the coriander leaves. Add brown rice, brown rice flour to the lentils and mix well. Form 32 golf ball-sized burger bites with clean hands. Heat the remaining two tablespoons of raw organic coconut oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the burgers for about 5 minutes per side, until cooked through and golden on the outside.


When making your own hummus from scratch, it's always best to use dried beans that you soak overnight as this leads to a creamier, more wholesome hummus.

Makes 250g. Vegan-friendly. Gluten, dairy, sugar and nut-free


400g dried chickpeas

5 tbsp dark tahini paste

3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp tamari

Pinch of Himalayan fine rock salt


Soak the dried chickpeas overnight in plenty of water in an airtight container in a moderately temperate place. The following day, drain the chickpeas and rinse thoroughly. Place in a large saucepan, cover with three times their volume of cold water and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 hour, until tender. Drain and add to a blender with all the remaining ingredients. Blend together, adding water as needed to reach your desired consistency. You will probably need to stop the blender several times to scrape down the sides. Add more smoked paprika, salt, lemon juice or tahini to taste. Transfer to an airtight container or a glass jar, cover and refrigerate for several hours before serving. This hummus will last for up to five days in the fridge.

Our Famous Fuel Food Veggie Bake

Veggie bake

I love using layers of lentils and vegetables when creating our popular vegetarian and vegan bakes for our deli. You could also add cooked marinated chicken, fish, lamb or beef as a layer to this dish if you like. High in plant protein, dietary fibre, essential fats and vitamin C.

Serves 4. Vegan-, gluten-, nut-, sugar- and dairy-free


1 litre of water

2 low-salt, yeast-free, gluten-free vegetable stock cubes

200g dried brown lentils, soaked, washed and rinsed

750g floury potatoes, washed and rinsed

200g baby spinach

200g sweet potato, peeled and cubed

1 tbsp of olive oil

Salt and pepper to season

1 tbsp harissa paste

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

150g onions, diced

150g red peppers, diced

2 large cloves of garlic, minced


Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350°F.

Boil the water and add the vegetable stock cubes. Stir to dissolve and leave to one side. To begin with, you need three medium saucepans. In the first saucepan, cover the lentils with 400ml of the vegetable stock. Simmer for 25 minutes, until the stock has been soaked up and the lentils have collapsed. Add some more water and continue to cook for 10 minutes more, until the lentils are cooked through. Drain off any excess water in a colander or sieve and set aside.

Another saucepan is for the potatoes. Again, add 600ml of the vegetable stock and medium boil for 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender. While the potatoes are cooking, use a sieve to steam about 50g of the baby spinach over the saucepan. This will take 5 minutes. Set aside. When potatoes are tender, place in a colander or sieve to drain off any excess water and set aside. Then mash with a little olive oil and salt and pepper until fluffy.

The last saucepan is for the sweet potatoes. Cover them with hot water and simmer for about 20 minutes, until soft. Drain and place the sweet potatoes back into the saucepan. Mash with the harissa paste and turmeric until you have a thick purée. Now heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok over a medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, the rest of the baby spinach and the garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add a little water to the base of the wok if it looks too dry. Remove from the heat once the vegetables are soft.

Part 2 of this is the fun part - the layering. Grab a medium-sized deep baking tray or dish and grease with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the mashed potato as your base, using a spatula or wooden spoon to flatten it. Next add the vegetable mix on top of the of the potato, again flattening it. (This is where you could add some meat or fish if you wanted to as the next layer.) Add the lentils and flatten them, then top it off with the lightly spiced sweet potato mash. As you do so, mix the steamed baby spinach on top and create your own design. Finally, pop the dish in the oven for 20 minutes, until the top is toasty. Cut servings with a large knife and serve with a spatula. It's beautiful with a salad of your choice.

Naughty Gluten-Free Moroccan Cake

Moroccan Orange Cake

This recipe was developed by my friend and gluten-free work colleague, Eleanor Hickson, from Killiskey Bakery in the Garden of Wicklow. High in vitamin C, vitamin E, dietary fibre and protein, it's the kind of cake that all the guests will want a slice of.

Serves 8. Gluten and dairy-free

Contains nuts.


200g dark brown sugar

4 eggs, separated

Zest 2 oranges

Juice 1 orange

200g ground almonds

For the syrup glaze:

130g caster sugar

Juice 2 oranges

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp orange essence or Cointreau


Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350°F. Line a 22cm or 23cm round cake tin with parchment paper. Beat the brown sugar, egg yolks, orange zest and juice in a large mixing bowl until fluffy and yellow. Gradually beat in the ground almonds.

In a separate spotlessly clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter with a metal spoon. Spoon the batter into the lined cake tin. Bake for 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean and the cake is golden brown. Leave to rest on a wire rack in the tin until it's cool.

To make the glaze, simmer the caster sugar, orange juice and cinnamon stick in a saucepan for 5 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow cooling, and then adding the orange essence or Cointreau. Pour the syrup over the lukewarm cake in its tin.

Serve with vanilla ice-cream or natural yoghurt.

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