A recent survey of 500 vegetarians by Waitrose has revealed that Christmas dinner can be far from a gourmet experience for non meat eaters. The survey found that many vegetarians are thoughtlessly served meat or have just overcooked, soggy and even burnt vegetables and side dishes to look forward to on the big day. One participant had even been given a pot noodle for Christmas lunch!
Last week I had a similar experience. I went for a team Christmas dinner at a local restaurant. We had warned them that one of the members of the team was a vegetarian and the restaurant promised to have something vegetarian on the menu. However, I was served a non-vegetarian lasagne! Plus the side dishes such as sprouts were garnished with bacon and the potatoes had duck fat! Christmas meals are always expensive and I really felt disappointed and cheated. It ruined my meal and I decided that I would not be going for any more Christmas meals again.
Here are some more findings from the Waitrose survey:
- 1 in 5 vegetarians have thoughtlessly been served meat on Christmas Day.
- Over a quarter (28%) of vegetarians questioned had never been asked what they would like to eat on Christmas Day.
- 1 in 4 (25%) veggies prefer to cook for themselves at Christmas to ensure all the elements of the meal are vegetarian.
- 37% of vegetarians voted a meat substitute such as Quorn as their ‘usual’ Christmas dinner option.
- The traditional nut roast was voted the top vegetarian Christmas dinner.
- The ‘usual’ suspects Vegetarians opt for at Christmas include – ‘A meat substitute such as Quorn’ (37%), Nut Roast (26%), a vegetable pie/pastry dish (23%) and stuffed butternut squash (7%).
- Over a 1 in 3 (36%) vegetarians questioned said they would like shops and restaurants to be more creative with their vegetarian offering at Christmas time.
However, the Mushroom Wellington was voted amongst the Top 6 Christmas dinners for vegetarians by the survey.
This lead me to create a recipe for vegetarian Wellington which would be tasty as well as rich in protein. Christmas meals can be exciting for vegetarians too and this dish can be served with the Christmas vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, potatoes, parsnips and cranberry sauce. This dish can also be prepared ahead of time, ready to serve on Christmas Day.
I decided to create this dish by layering different vegetables, nuts and cheese. Each layer has different flavours which are balanced by the addition of cheese and nuts. I used ready prepared frozen vegetables to save time. Note: Quorn is a brand name for foods are made with Mycoprotein. Mycoprotein is a nutritious quality meat free protein, a member of the fungi family, and naturally low in fat and high in protein and fibre. More information about Quorn is at their website.
NB: This post and recipe are also featured on the Christmas Dinner page of Waitrose’s website under the section entitled ‘It’s Not All About the Meat…’. Click this link to see more!
Ingredients for 8 servings:
- 2 cups frozen roasted Mediterranean Vegetables (courgettes, onions, cherry tomatoes, aubergine, peppers)
- 6 cups of mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, green beans and sweetcorn)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp coriander powder
- 2 cups Quorn Mince
- ½ cup passata
- 1 tsp bouillon powder
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 6 cups frozen chopped spinach
- 2 cloves garlic – minced
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp finely chopped green chillies
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Sliced Mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup mixed nuts chopped finely
- 2 packets of ready rolled puff pastry sheets and a tablespoon of sesame seeds
- Layer 1: Line a baking tray and cook the Mediterranean vegetables in the oven at 170 degrees for 20 minutes. (If using Mediterranean vegetables, cut them all into small pieces, transfer them to a plastic bag, add 1 tbsp of oil, salt and pepper to taste and seal the bag and shake them well and cook them in the oven at 190 degrees for 20 minutes).
- Layer 2: Transfer the frozen mixed vegetables to a frying fan and add the spices listed above in the ingredients to the mixture and cook until soft.
Layer 3: Marinade the Quorn in the passata and bouillon powder for 30 minutes and then stir fry in olive oil until cooked. This should take about 10-12 minutes.
- Layer 4: Cook the frozen spinach by adding all the herbs and spices listed in the ingredients list above. Tip: If the spinach is too runny add a couple of teaspoons of bread crumbs to it. Leave the ricotta cheese to add to the spinach when it is cooked.
- Layer 5: Chop the nuts finely, add a teaspoon of butter to them and cook them in the microwave for a minute. This helps to release all the nutty flavours.
2. Once all the toppings are ready you can start layering the Wellington using the ready rolled puff pastry sheets.
3. You can either make it like a loaf or a plait. Instruction for both are below.
4. For the loaf version: Line a bread tin with parchment paper and then line it with the pastry roll. Add some sesame seeds to the pastry.
5. Start layering it with one layer at a time, lightly packing it with a spoon so that there isn’t too much air in the Wellington. You can decide which order you would like to layer your Wellington. I started with the spinach, then roast vegetables etc… with the mozzarella cheese in the middle of the Wellington. This ensures that the cheese doesn’t ooze out when it melts.
6. Seal the top well. I poked it lightly with a knife to allow any air build up to escape.
7. If you have any pastry left over – you can be creative to give it a festive look.
8. For the plait look – roll out the pastry and cut it diagonally as shown below allowing some space next to the toppings to enable you to wrap the pastry over the fillings.
9. Once you have done the layers, cover the top and bottom with the puff pastry. Taking each strip, bring it over the fillings alternatively to cover the filling forming a plait.
10. For a festive look, I coloured the left over dough and added some strips to the Wellington.
11. Cook the Wellington covered in parchment paper at 170 degrees for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the paper and allow it to brown for 10 more minutes.
12. Allow it to cool on a wired tray for 10 minutes before cutting it to serve with any vegetables of your choice.
13. We served it with Brussels sprouts and herbed mash potatoes. My husband had seconds. He gave me the best compliment when he said that he enjoyed the flavours in the Wellington and it was the best one he has ever had.
What do you make for your vegetarian Christmas?