Alternative Christmas Dinner

If you’re anything like me, there are times when you will feel different because of certain dietary requirements that you may have. Whether your lactose intolerant, vegetarian, vegan or just a fussy eater, Christmas is a time when this “difference” will be seemly highlighted as most dishes involve meat, wheat and or dairy. Subsequently the recipes below should inspire you to embrace your individual diet, and make the most of this Christmas period no matter what your food choice may be.

Nibbles/Starter: Gluten free
Spiced Macadamia Nuts


These nuts are a just-right combo of spice and sweetness, and are perfect with a glass of something cold.


  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ tsp caster sugar
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp hot chilli powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 150g/5½oz macadamia nuts
  • 1 tbsp clear honey

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  2. Whisk to combine the sunflower oil, lime juice and caster sugar together, whisking until the mixture looks pale.
  3. Keep whisking and add the garam masala, chilli powder, and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Add the nuts to the spice mixture, stir in the honey and mix together until the nuts are evenly coated.
  5. Place the nuts in an even layer onto the lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for five minutes before turning them over and roasting for a further 8-10 minutes until they have a shiny, golden coating and are no longer sticky. Watch carefully towards the end of cooking to ensure the nuts do not burn.
  6. Leave the nuts on the tray to cool. They will continue to harden as they cool and can be served either warm or cold.

Main: Vegetarian
Christmas veggie Wellington


A show-stopping alternative to beef Wellington, this vegetarian recipe will have everyone asking for another slice.


For the filling

  • 60g/2oz basmati rice, cooked according to the packet instructions
  • pinch turmeric
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 600g/1lb 5oz brown cap mushrooms, sliced
  • 50g/2oz butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tbsp dried cranberries
  • 2 free-range eggs, hard-boiled, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pastry

  • 250g/9oz ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • vegetarian gravy, to serve

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  2. Combine the cooked rice, turmeric and lemon zest and set aside, covered, in the refrigerator.
  3. Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the onion and mushroom and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until softened. Set aside to cool.
  4. Stir in the cooked rice, herbs, cranberries and hard-boiled eggs until well combined. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. For the pastry, cut a 40cm x 20cm/15in x 8in rectangle from the puff pastry.
  6. Spoon the rice mixture down the centre of the pastry. Bring the sides of the pastry together and seal. Brush all over with beaten egg and chill for 30 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle the pastry parcel with sesame seeds and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until crisp and golden-brown.
  8. To serve, place one slice of the Wellington onto each of six serving plates. Pour over vegetarian gravy.

Dessert: Dairy Free
Rich Christmas pudding


Make this pudding a couple of months before Christmas day. Feed it with booze regularly for the flavours to develop.


  • 225g/8oz golden caster sugar
  • 225g/8oz vegetarian suet
  • 340g/12oz sultanas
  • 340g/12oz raisins
  • 225g/8oz currants
  • 110g/4oz candied peel, chopped
  • 110g/4oz plain flour
  • 110g/4oz fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 55g/2oz flaked almonds
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1 level tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 level tsp mixed spice
  • 5g/1 level tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 150ml/5fl oz brandy or rum

Preparation method

  1. Lightly grease 4x600ml/1 pint or 2×1.2 litre/2 pint pudding basins.
  2. Mix together all the dry ingredients.
  3. Stir in the eggs and brandy and mix well.
  4. Spoon the mix into basins. Put a circle of baking parchment and foil over the top of each basin and tie securely with string. Make a string handle from one side of the basin to the other so it is easier to pick the basin out of the pan after cooking.

Technique: Wrapping a pudding for steaming

  1. Put the basins in a large steamer of boiling water and cover with a lid. Boil for 5-6 hours, topping the boiling water up from time to time, if necessary. If you do not have a steamer, put the basins in a large pan on inverted saucers on the base. Pour in boiling water to come a third of the way up the sides of the pudding bowls. Cover and steam as before.
  2. Cool. Change the baking parchment and foil covers for fresh ones and tie up as before. Store in a cool cupboard until Christmas Day.
  3. To serve, steam for 2 hours and serve with brandy butter, rum sauce, cream or home made custard.

Merry Christmas 😀

By Ester Selassie

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