Eugene Wei/Flickr

Alternative Christmas Meals

Vegetarian, pescetarian, or downright picky, all the answers for Christmas dinner are here…

’Tis the season to be jolly, to get out all the Christmas decorations with glee, to meet relatives and ignore bizarre questions such as what you are doing after you graduate, to dash around the stores in a blind panic uncertain of what to get and ignoring the rapid decline of your bank balance and to devour those glorious Christmas dinners with utmost abandon, along with some Quality Street afterwards, which having room for is a given. However, the traditional festive feast that includes browned turkey accompanied by stuffing, trimmings and sprouts can become a little tiring if repeated year after year, or it could just not be liked. I, for one, can happily do without turkey and content my stomach with just roast potatoes and gravy. So here are some ideas for those looking to spice up the usual meal this Christmas!

Brent Hofaker/Flickr

Brent Hofaker/Flickr

While the centrepiece for the traditional Christmas meal is turkey, this season’s roast does not have to be synonymous with the usual bird. For some, it can be too expensive, too big and, after all the effort of cooking it, too dry. For meat-eaters, the possible showstopper has an extensive range from roasted beef and pulled pork to glazed ham or poached salmon. In looking for a turkey replacement, those who are not too fussy over cost can look into game birds, goose or even lobster.Roast chicken, while its familiarity resides in Sunday roasts and perhaps is an unexciting possibility, is best for its value and can pack great flavour.  Another great possibility is the classic dish of beef wellington, fit for a special occasion.

Moving to the opposite end of the spectrum of alternative festive dishes, there are a number of possible ideas for a vegetarian Christmas meal.  A notable showstopper replacement of roasted meat is the filling and tasty nut roast, a vegetarian loaf filled with lentils, chestnut mushrooms and cheese that can go with the classic roast dinner trimmings for those that still want some elements of the traditional Christmas meal. BBC Good Food’s squash and blue cheese wellington is a festive vegetarian main; cheeses or vegetables inside the puff pastry can be altered to a specific liking. As well as the exhaustive list of pies and roulades that can be baked this Christmas, a different main could be cooked aubergines filled with spinach and mushrooms.However, it can have any other beloved vegetable additions, or some Italian flair can be captured with Nigella Lawson’s recipe for a pasta bake, incorporating some of the familiar Christmas meal sides: brussels sprouts, cheese and potato. Her roast-stuffed pumpkin with a gingery tomato sauce would be a magnificent and radical dish that would be sure to rival any roast.

A notable showstopper replacement of roasted meat is the filling and tasty nut roast, a vegetarian loaf filled with lentils, chestnut mushrooms and cheese…

Vegans can also be inspired this Christmas with a great many possible recipes to have an indulgent and special meal. There is the option of soup as a starter,a perfect way to begin the festive feast that can be both exceptional and scrumptious. From butternut soup with crispy sage and apple croutons to spicy roasted parsnip soup, for those who wish to enjoy more festive flavours. There is something for everyone. A range of mouth-watering potato dishes can also be chosen: from the Caribbean-style Jerk sweet potato and black bean curry that complements rice and peas to a crispy potato bake peppered with olives and capers. Other hearty main dishes include stuffed peppers and portabellas, vegetable pot and shepherd’s pies, and a variety of seasonal casserole dishes that can be served with seasonal salads such as cranberry slaw or roasted root vegetable salad.

Catalina Linkava/Flickr

Catalina Linkava/Flickr

For fish fans or those who follow the tradition of only eating fish on Christmas Eve, there is always room for those that formerly resided under the sea during the festive period. As well as the fore-mentioned poached salmon or lobster dishes, fish pies or cakes can also make a crispy and hearty and meal, perfect for the winter season. Anyone looking for something notably different this Christmas, dab, a fish similar to sole or plaice, can be grilled and served with drizzled garlic sauce and spinach, or the Italian-style baked sea bass can pack Mediterranean flavours in this simple dish. Instead of a turkey roast, the roasted salmon with peas, potatoes and bacon makes for an all-in-one dish to provide filling satisfaction.

Whatever the choice in meal this Christmas, whether it be the usual traditional feast or something different, may it be a delicious addition to the holidays. I will, as always, be residing with the roast potatoes and gravy.However, in my research for alternative Christmas meals, I have stumbled onto a recipe for naan, spinach and halloumi bites that I simply have to attempt to make and eat alongside the usual. Merry Christmas!

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