My (Imaginary) Christmas Dinner

My (imaginary) Christmas Dinner

I’ve already mentioned that I’m not doing any cooking on Christmas day as we’ll be at my brother’s house and he and my sister-in-law will be doing all the work! It’s not an exclusively vegan Christmas but they’re insisting on making me a special vegan dish, and most of the side dishes will be vegan too.

I’m sure it will be lovely, but some day I hope to host my own vegan Christmas meal and here’s what I’d serve if it was up to me (and if I had an expandable stomach!).

We don’t usually do starters as we try to save stomach space for later, so after champagne and maybe some nuts and crudités we’ll get right into the main course.

These Lentil Mushroom Walnut Balls by Angela of Oh She Glows look like a wonderful “meaty” main dish. They’re full of all delicious wintry herbs and other good things.

Sometimes it’s nice to stick to tradition and I do love a good lentil/nut roast. This No-fu Love Loaf from Dreena Burton is another of my top picks and would be a beautiful centrepiece.


Finally, another main dish, very easy to put together, healthy, hearty but lightened up with a zingy orange dressing. My Butternut, Barley & Lentil Pilaf would be wonderful served up family style. Sub dried cranberries for the raisins for a little festive flair.

I’d happily forego the main dish in favour of a plateful of sides which are what make the Christmas meal for me. At my Christmas feast I’d serve:

Maple-Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

Brussel Sprouts and Chestnuts

Peas, Roast Potatoes, my own Cranberry Sauce, Apricot & Hazelnut Stuffing Balls (veganized), and Red Onion Gravy.

Phew. I think we might need a breather after all that…

For dessert, I’ve grown to really enjoy the Traditional Christmas pudding. My Mum has been making a vegan one for the last few years and I *think* she adapts it from this recipe. Serve it with warm spiced cream:

1C Non-dairy Cream (soya, oat, etc. )

1/4t each Ground Ginger & Cinnamon

Pinch of Ground Nutmeg

1T Brown/Coconut Sugar

1-2T Brandy

Add the cream to a small pan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Stir in spices and sugar and reduce to a simmer for 4-5 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat, stir in brandy and serve immediately.


For those who don’t like Christmas Pudding, chocolate is the only way to go. I’d probably make a large version of these Raw Mint Chocolate Tartlets with some crushed peppermint candy canes on top!

If you can manage anything else at this stage, one of Tanya’s Raw Mince Pies would be fantastic, or just a couple of clementines while lingering at the table.


Later on, after your Christmas day walk, once you’re settled down with the family to watch a Christmas film, pass around a plate of homemade chocolate treats. All these ideas come from Sylvia of Superfoodista.

I think that will be quite enough food for one day!

Do you have a traditional menu planned or are you trying something new this year? I’d love to hear what’ you’re making. Do feel free to share recipe links in the comments.

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Kabocha, Spinach, Brown Rice & Miso Broth


In case you didn’t see on Facebook or Twitter- the winner of “Super Healthy Snacks and Treats”, picked out of 101 entries using a Random Number Generator, was…number 7- Janet from The Taste Space! Congratulations to Janet and thank you to everyone for taking part. I’m sorry I couldn’t give you each a copy! If you want to buy yourself a copy or ask for it for Christmas, it’s available from, Amazon UK or through the author’s website.

Now on to today’s recipe!

Kabocha, Spinach, Brown Rice & Miso Broth

So my plan to try all the different varieties of squash out there this winter rather failed. I haven’t made it to the Saturday morning farmers’ market as much as I’d have liked, and when I have picked up squash I haven’t been able to identify them anyway! Recently I spied one I did recognize but hadn’t yet sampled- Kabocha!

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Kabocha is an Asian variety of squash, commonly called Japanese pumpkin. I think they’re rather cute, all short and squat, and cutting through the dull green skin revealed a brilliant orange flesh.

As I said, this was my first time trying it, and much as I’d read it described it had a very sweet, almost chestnut-like flavour and was softer and more starchy than other squash- quite similar to sweet potato in texture.

Considering its Japanese roots I thought I’d go that direction with it. I had seen a recipe in The Asian Vegan Kitchen for a side-dish of kabocha simmered with tamari and mirin, and turned it into a complete meal with chewy short-grain brown rice and greens in a soupy miso broth. A bowl of pure, nourishing, comfort food.

Kabocha, Spinach, Brown Rice & Miso Broth

Kabocha, Spinach, Brown Rice & Miso Broth:

1/2C Short-grain Brown Rice
220g/1/2 lb Diced Kabocha Squash (approx 1 1/2” pieces)- Simply remove the seeds and stringy fibres from the squash and dice, leaving skin on.
1T Tamari
1” Fresh Ginger, finely minced/grated
1/2T Mirin
1T White Miso
2 1/2C Vegetable Broth OR Water
2 Green Onions, thinly sliced
100g/4oz Spinach
Red Chili & Squeeze of Lime (optional)

Cook your brown rice first (You could also use other hearty grains like barley or farro) per package directions. Set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together tamari, ginger, miso and mirin until smooth and gradually whisk into the broth in a large pot.

Add the kabocha and simmer for approx 10 minutes (don’t boil) until the squash is soft but not falling apart. Add the brown rice to warm through and the green onions and spinach to wilt.

Finish with a squeeze of lime, and a little sliced red chili (optional).

Serves 2

Other squash recipes I’ve made this season:

Butternut, Barley & Lentil Pilaf

Linguine with Pumpkin & Chard

Warm Butternut & Lentil Salad with Tahini Dressing

Miso Curry Roasted Squash with Crispy Chickpeas & Kale

Chocolate Pumpkin & Cranberry Muffins

Pumpkin Pie

I’m keen to try spaghetti squash too but it sadly remains elusive…

Do you have a favourite variety of squash?

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Miso-Curry Roasted Squash with Crispy Chickpeas & Kale


Hello all! Hope you’ve had a good weekend wherever you are in the world. Mine included some work, a trip to the farmers’ market, a rainy canal walk with a friend, and, unsurprisingly, some cooking!

Miso-Curry Roasted Squash with Crispy Chickpeas & Kale

Squash is definitely one of my favourite foods at this time of year and I adore seeing all the different varieties piled high at the Farmers’ market. I snapped a quick picture yesterday as they were too pretty not to share.

Farmers' Market Squash

I managed to resist buying them all and reminded myself that the market will be there next week and the week after and so on…so there will be plenty of time for more squash. I did pick up one though. I don’t actually know what variety it was, I mainly chose it because I liked the colour/markings and because it wasn’t as huge as some of the others. I am cooking just for me most of the time!

Farmers' Market Squash

I so enjoyed my Thai Tempeh Red Curry last week and still had half of the little jar of paste sitting in my fridge so was keen to do use it in something else.

In this recipe chunky pieces of squash and chickpeas get a generous coating of a blend of red curry paste, miso and olive oil, before heading to the oven for a roasting. When the squash is lovely, soft and sweet and the chickpeas are crisp, they’re mixed up with silky ribbons of kale, massaged in a dressing made from the leftover miso-curry sauce, along with pumpkin seeds and fresh coriander for added yumminess.

Miso-Curry Roasted Squash with Crispy Chickpeas & Kale

This recipes’s a cinch to put together, especially since this squash was actually easy to chop! I have a scar on my thumb testament to a previous battle with a butternut…

Miso-Curry Dressing

I used these Tamari-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds from Clearspring, as I was feeling extra lazy and didn’t want to get out a pan to toast my pumpkin seeds. Though thinking about it now, you could just throw raw pumpkin seeds onto a baking sheet and roast them for a few minutes while your squash and chickpeas are in the oven.

Clearspring Tamari Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Miso-Curry Roasted Squash with Crispy Chickpeas & Kale:

(Adapted from Super Natural Every Day)

1 Small/Medium Squash (Mine was 500g/Just over 1lb), cut into large chunks/moon shapes (if you’re using a butternut you’ll need to peel it)
1 1/2C/1 Can Cooked Chickpeas
1/4C Olive Oil
1/4C (scant) White Miso
1T Red Curry Paste
2T Lemon Juice
3C Kale (I used Cavolo Nero), de-stemmed and cut into ribbons
1/3C Pumpkin Seeds, Roasted
Large Handful of Fresh Coriander/Cilantro, roughly chopped or simply de-stemmed

Combine the olive oil, miso and red curry paste in a small bowl and toss about 1/3C of this with the squash and chickpeas in a large bowl. Use your hands to make sure it’s all coated. Spread onto a baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes, until squash is tender and chickpeas are crisp.

Meanwhile, whisk the lemon juice into the remaining miso-curry mixture until emulsified. In the large bowl you used for the vegetables, toss the kale and the dressing (you may not need all the dressing). Massage with your hands until the kale shrinks down a little and gets silky.

When squash and chickpeas are cooked, toss with the kale, remove to serving dishes or a platter, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and coriander, and serve.

Serves 3-4


Miso-Curry Roasted Squash with Crispy Chickpeas & Kale

My Warm Butternut & Lentil Salad with Tahini Dressing is another of my favourite squash recipes. What are yours? Send them my way please!

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I enjoyed the luxury of plenty of free-time this summer after my exams, and spent a lot of it in two of my favourite places- the kitchen and the garden!

Of course it’s pretty clear that I love cooking. But I do love being outside too and getting my hands covered in soil rather than flour for a change.  I get a real thrill out of seeing something grow from virtually nothing and get pretty excited about the appearance of a new courgette or a tomato turning red.  The resulting meals consisting almost entirely of home-grown vegetables are a lovely bonus.

I promised I would share some pictures of my garden, but, with the whirlwind of Vegan MoFo, didn’t get to doing so before it all got started.  I thought I’d take the opportunity to post them now it’s all over and while we’re still enjoying the novelty of autumn vegetables, not yet pining after the long-gone summer!


Sweet peas are the scent of summer! There was always a little vase of them on the kitchen table.





The flowers are my Mum’s domain. I try my best to learn all their names, but somehow always forget them… Our roses are especially beautiful.


The piles of green beans I was picking daily got bigger and bigger and admittedly we struggled to stay on top of them.


We actually grew these borlotti beans last year but they were too pretty not to share. We didn’t end up with a huge amount and I don’t really know how to use them fresh like this so we didn’t sow any more seeds this year. GardenTomatoes! What would summer be without them? We grew 3 varieties- my favourite were these little cherry tomatoes- sakura and orange paruche. They were like  sweets, and, warm off the vine were heavenly. We had so many that I ended up making a few batches of slow-roasted tomatoes with them as well.GardenI think every gardener experiences a case of courgette fatigue by the end of summer. They just don’t stop producing! I got a little cross that the muntjac deer kept sneaking up at night and chomping them, but after a while I was actually grateful for fewer courgettes to deal with!GardenPlenty of salad leaves. I love these crunchy little gem lettuces which we grow every year.GardenIt was fantastic to have our own beetroot, even if we didn’t have an awful lot. I think I mostly roasted them in tin foil and then ate them in salads. Though I’m sure I made my favourite tahini beetroot recipe with them, and there was Gena’s delicious beetroot-hemp granola too.

GardenWe were given the seeds for these squash so never really knew what variety they were. They seemed to be a hybrid summer/winter squash though. They had thick skins but the flesh was softer than most winter squash. It was fun to see them changing colour- first the stripes appeared and then they went yellow!


We discovered these little critters up near the house, trapped under a grate. Mr Frog……


…and Mr Toad! We put them in a bucket and took them down to the water.


There were so many butterflies this summer! They fly too quickly to take photos of though but I thought this spiky caterpillar was rather fun. (Update: Apparently he would have grown into a “Tussock moth” )


We don’t grow fruit usually (although there are plans to try some soft fruit next year apparently) but did try out these this year.

Do you know what it is? It’s a physalis/cape gooseberry/Inca berry. There are various names for them and I’d only seen them before as a garnish on dessert plates. Sadly they never ripened, even in the greenhouse and with all the sunshine we had.


This little plum tree was a new addition this year. We did really well from it and got a lot of fruit, despite its size. Most of these were eaten fresh but, combined with a neighbour’s fruit they also got turned into my Maple-Oat Crumble.


We do have wild blackberries galore . I picked several batches of them to go in the freezer to be turned into apple and blackberry compote, crumbles and smoothies. There are still some in there from 2012 though!


Alfie likes them too! We both enjoyed them out on our walks.


A few teeny-tiny wild strawberries were discovered too. These were very sweet-tasting as well as cute.


If only! Perhaps I was making up for the fact that we can’t grow citrus or bananas here in crocheting my own!

Did you grow your own vegetables this year? What summer vegetable are you going to miss most in the autumn/winter? Hopefully you’re not missing it already!

I’ll be back with a foodie post tomorrow!

Red Lentil & Root Vegetable Tagine:


R is for…Red Lentils!

I hope everyone’s still enjoying the A-Z series. We’re coming to the end of Vegan MoFo now. Sob Sad smile but you’ve probably realized that I’m not going to get to the end of the alphabet by Sunday…I’ve been posting every weekday which will only take me to T by Friday. I’m having a lot of fun with it though, so, if you don’t mind, I’m going to keep going through to Z (though I might skip X unless anyone has any ideas for me!). I’ll try and post over the weekend and wrap up by the middle of next week but that might not be possible.

Back to the topic of the day…red lentils!

Red Lentil & Root Vegetable Tagine

Red lentils are a little different to their green, brown and black friends in that they don’t hold their shape at all when cooked. This lends them well to curries, stews, soups and similar dishes where they work to thicken up and add body to whatever it may be. The only red lentil recipe I’ve got up on the blog so far is my Sweet Potato, Spinach & Coconut Dahl but I’m sure that will soon change with the arrival of the colder weather when I start to crave those comforting dishes mentioned.

I’ve been sitting on this recipe for far too long and it’s something I’ve made numerous variations of over time. A flavourful, fragrant Moroccan tagine with root vegetables and red lentils.

Red Lentil & Root Vegetable Tagine

I mix up the vegetables every time I make it, this time I was delighted to be able to use both the squash and courgettes from my garden. I recommend a combination of hard, root veg and something green like courgettes or green beans. But it really is up to you.

It’s just occurred to me that this is another sweet and savoury dish, like yesterday’s recipe, so I hope there aren’t too many haters out there!

Tagine has to have fruit in it though. The sweet dried fruits are lovely with the spices and make this dish that bit more special. Just like the vegetables, you can also use whatever dried fruits you have to hand. This time I used a combination of dried apricots and dried figs but have used both prunes and golden raisins in the past with good results.

Red Lentil & Root Vegetable Tagine

Red Lentil & Root Vegetable Tagine:

Get creative with this dish and use whatever vegetables and dried fruits sound good to you.

1/2T Oil
1 Medium onion, diced
1 Large clove of garlic, minced
1” pc ginger, minced
1/2T Cinnamon
1t Cumin
1t Ground coriander
1-2t Harissa (optional if you like a bit of heat- or try 1/2t Chili Flakes)
1/2t Salt
1/3C Red lentils
1 1/2C Vegetable broth
1 x 400g/14oz Can of chopped tomatoes
1 1/2C Cubed squash (I prefer large chunks)
1 Large carrot, chopped into large chunks
2 Medium courgettes, chopped into large chunks
1/2C Dried fruit (I used a mixture of unsulphured dried apricots and dried figs)
1T Lemon juice
Chopped fresh parsley to serve

This needs to simmer for approximately one hour. You can either do this on the stovetop or in the oven.

If using the latter method, preheat the oven to 180C and place a large casserole dish/tagine in the oven to warm up.

In a large pan, warm the oil over medium heat and add the onion. Cook for a few minutes until softened and add the garlic, ginger, spices and salt. Cook for a further minute for spices to toast. Add lentils, broth and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add hard vegetables like squash and carrots and stir to coat in sauce.

Transfer mixture to the warmed dish from the oven if using this method and add the dried fruit to the mix. Cover and return to the oven. Check on it every now and again and give it a stir to prevent sticking.
After about 45 minutes add softer vegetables like courgettes or green beans and return to oven again to finish cooking. Mine usually takes around 1 hour total. You want your vegetables to be cooked through and fairly soft, but not collapsing.

Remove from the oven and stir through lemon juice.

I served this with quinoa (of course!) topped with toasted, chopped almonds and plenty of parsley.

Serves 4


Red Lentil & Root Vegetable Tagine

I didn’t do a link-love yesterday so you get extra today.

Red lentil recipes I like the look of:

Curry Cashew Red Lentil Burgers

Creamy Red Pepper Lentil Lasagna

Spiced Red Lentil Pancakes

Red Lentil, Lemon & Rosemary Orecchiette

Mellow Lentil “Sniffle” Soup

Enough to keep you busy there?

Let me know your thoughts on the A-Z. If you’re getting bored of it please say so!