There’s no need to settle for less at the Christmas table, says Arlene Harris who asks three wise chefs for their top vegan recipes
ALTHOUGH there are no official figures for the number of vegans in Ireland, if global trends are to be believed, an increasing number of people are adopting the animal-product-free diet every day.
So with this in mind, we asked some of our top chefs to put together some vegan-friendly Christmas dinner recipes.
“We need to provide delicious food for everyone so all our guests have a memorable meal,” says renowned chef, teacher and cookery writer, Darina Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School. “My favourite vegan dish is black-eyed bean stew which we have been enjoying at the school for over 25 years — it’s one of the very best one-pot dishes, what’s not to like about black-eyed beans, chickpeas and pumpkin with lots of spices?
Darina’s book Grow, Cook, Nourish, Kyle Books, €30, is available to buy now.
Peel and segment the grape-fruit, peel and pip grapes and add together in a bowl, sprinkle with sugar and mint or lovage.
Taste, add more sugar if necessary.
Chill and serving in a white bowl with a sprig of mint.
Makes 150ml (5floz) dressing
Preheat oven to moderate (180C/350Gas Mark 4).
Roast hazelnuts for five to six minutes or until smelling toasted and fragrant. Cool, chop coarsely.
Meanwhile, mix olive oil and vinegar with the shallots.
Season with salt. Add chopped hazelnuts.
Just before using, add chopped parsley and chives.
Drizzle over a salad of fresh leaves.
Salad (optional, recipe above)
Day before: Soak the beans and chickpeas separately, in plenty of cold water overnight.
Next day: Cover each with fresh water, bring to the boil and simmer for 30-45 minutes.
Cut mushrooms into 3mm slices. Heat oil in a sauté pan over a medium-high flame.
When hot, put in whole cumin seeds and cinnamon stick. Sizzle for 5-6 seconds.
Now put in onions and garlic.
Stir and fry until onion is beginning to colour.
Put in mushrooms. Stir and fry until they wilt then add squash, tomatoes, ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, pinch of sugar and cayenne. Stir and cook for a minute.
Cover and cook on a gentle heat for 10 minutes.
Turn off heat.
Drain beans and chickpeas, reserving the cooking liquid.
Add to the mushroom base mixture — then add salt and freshly ground pepper, 2 tablespoons of fresh coriander and 150ml of bean cooking liquid and 150ml chick pea liquid.
Bring beans and chickpeas to boil again.
Reduce heat and simmer for 10-20 minutes or until tender. Stir occasionally.
Remove cinnamon stick before serving. Sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of fresh coriander.
To cook the Steamed Rice
Wash rice gently in two or three changes of cold water.
The final water should almost be clear.
Drain well in a sieve or fine strainer then tip into a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
Add equal volume of water and the salt and stir to mix.
Bring to boil, then reduce heat to minimum, use a heat diffuser mat if available.
Cover with a tight-fitting lid — no steam must escape (use tin foil under the lid if necessary).
Steam for 15-20 minutes, take off heat and rest for 5 minutes. The rice will now be dry and fluffy but will keep warm for up to 30 minutes.
“With so much indulgence — and over-indulgence — over the Christmas it’s important to have a few lighter healthier options not only for vegan guests but also for everyone to enjoy,” says TV chef, Kevin Dundon of Dunbrody House Hotel.
“My own favourites are stir-fried baby sprouts with mushrooms, garlic, bean sprouts and topped with almonds. Another family favourite is my Spicy Moroccan Vegetable Tagine which is fantastic when coming in after a bracing winter walk on the beach.”
Warm the oil in a shallow pan over a low heat and add shallots, thyme and rosemary.
Cook gently until completely softened.
Add oats and then white wine, stir gently.
Add a ladle of vegetable stock, never adding the next ladle until the previous one has evaporated. Continue to add all of liquid until the oat is plump and tender.
Season with salt and pepper and add the cannellini bean puree, pesto, and lemon juice.
Continue to gently stir until combined.
Add the roasted vegetables and serve immediately.
Pour wine into a saucepan over a low heat. Add caster sugar, zest and juice of an orange.
Add peppercorns, cloves, star anise, cinnamon stick, vanilla pod and a grating of nutmeg.
Stir until sugar has dissolved.
Bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Add agar and whisk rapidly to dissolve powder.
Then bring to simmer for another minute.
Remove from heat and set aside to infuse for 10 minutes.
Strain the liquid through a sieve into another container and let cool slightly
for 30 minutes.
Pour mixture into a cling film lined tray or jelly mould and leave to set in the fridge overnight before serving.
”It’s important to have vegan options on offer over Christmas as in the past number of years there has been an increase in veganism,” says Catherine Fulvio, TV chef and owner of Ballyknocken House and Cookery School. “I believe in its benefits, however I have to admit I am not there yet,” she says.
“But I do have a keen appetite for vegetarian food and many of my recipes can pass the vegan test.”
Cook pasta according to the instructions.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add garlic and sauté for one minute, taking care not to burn.
Add sun-dried tomatoes and gently mash with a fork so they soften in the oil.
Drain pasta and reserve some of the cooking liquid.
Add the cooked, drained pasta to the sauce.
Stir in some of the cooking liquid to loosen and return to heat.
Add walnuts and cook for a further 1–2 minutes, then season to taste.
Add parsley or freshly steamed broccoli.
Preheat the oven to 150C/ fan 130C/gas 2.
Line a 20cm square cake tin with baking parchment.
Mix nuts with orange peel and figs in a small bowl.
Sift flour, cocoa and spices together in a large bowl and mix in nuts and
Gently heat sugar and honey in a saucepan until dissolved.
Raise heat and simmer for two minutes.
Quickly stir the syrup through the dry ingredients and then spoon mix into the prepared cake tin, pressing in with fingers.
Bake in oven for 30–35 minutes. Allow to cool in the tin. When cooled, remove the baking parchment and dust with icing sugar.
Recipe from Eat Like an Italian, €20— visit www.ballyknocken.ie