Vegetarian alternatives to Christmas turkey

Make the perfect vegetarian dinner this Christmas

More and more people are choosing to become vegetarian, which can pose problems at Christmas. While it is easy enough to get snacks and treats that are suitable for vegetarians throughout the festive period, the traditional turkey isn't so easy to replace.

As the centrepiece of your Christmas dinner, the turkey looks impressive, as well as tasting delicious. This means you need to find a vegetarian option that is tasty but also looks good on the plate.

As well as ensuring your gravy and all the trimmings are veggie, here are some great alternatives to your Christmas turkey:

Carrot, mushroom and hazelnut tart

Perfect for making in advance and ensuring you get to spend less time in the kitchen on Christmas Day, carrot, mushroom and hazelnut tart can be made for individuals or on a larger scale if you have more than one vegetarian to feed.

You can also make it easier by opting for ready-made puff pastry, which can knock hours off your prep time as you don't need to laminate the layers of your pastry to get it to puff up. 

To make this dish, you should start by glazing your carrots – which should be sliced longways – by baking them with a drizzle of olive oil and maple syrup until golden. Then fry up chopped mushrooms with onion until soft.

Blend more mushrooms with hazelnuts, cream cheese, herbs and seasoning before stirring in your first mushroom mix. Roll your pastry out and top with the mushrooms, then layer the carrots and bake until the pastry is risen and golden.

Serve with your usual roast vegetables for a tasty vegetarian alternative to turkey.

Parsnip, cranberry and chestnut loaf

Nut roast is the usual alternative for vegetarians on Christmas Day, which can get a bit boring year in and year out. Rather than picking up a frozen nut roast that is going to be far from satisfying, whip up an easy chestnut roast for something a bit different.

Start by frying some onions in butter before adding chestnuts and walnuts that have been chopped into small pieces. Add herbs and seasoning to the pan, along with breadcrumbs and a beaten egg, being sure to mix everything well.

Simmer cranberries and sugar in a pan for around ten minutes until a sauce-like texture is achieved. Put this aside to cool while you grease a loaf tin and line it with greaseproof paper. Boil your parsnips and slice to line the bottom of the loaf tin. Chop any remaining parsnips and stir into your chestnut mix.

Line your tin with the parsnips and spread a third of the nut mixture over the top before spreading a third of the cranberry over this. Put the rest of the chestnut mixture over the top and press it down to create a dense texture. Chill for 24 hours until ready to roast on Christmas Day and serve topped with your cranberry sauce. 

Squash and Stilton Wellington

Rather than a typical pie, put a vegetarian spin on a classic beef Wellington to create something more impressive that can be cut at the table just like your turkey. Squash and Stilton Wellington is a delicious option that is a little bit different.

Cut butternut squash and shallots into chunky pieces, add pecan nuts and roast until golden and soft. Put the squash to one side to ensure it is completely cool, but pop the nuts and shallots into a pan with balsamic vinegar, seasoning and maple syrup to caramelise before also leaving that to cool. 

Roll out your pastry in a rectangle before laying out the squash along the middle – leaving plenty of pastry around the edges to wrap everything. Scatter crumbs of Stilton over the squash, along with fresh sage, and top with the shallot and pecans before pressing everything down to compress it.

Use egg to seal the pastry as you join the edges up to create a long parcel and then pop in the oven until golden brown. You can even add pastry decoration to the top before it cooks – such as holly – to make it look more festive.

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