To start you off, some nibbles that are as simple as they are exquisite. Show your guests that you have bigger vegetables to fry by serving up some sautéd snacks of a different kind. Always use produce that’s in season – a veggie Christmas is also about respecting your environment. Try frying potatoes or artichokes in a little oil, or making pancakes with cornflour or gram flour. They’re incredibly easy and delicious served with a good red wine. Or, how about some crostini? Grill small slices of bread then top with cheese and herbs. For a vegan option, use mushrooms lightly fried with garlic and parsley, or a green or black olive tapenade.
A veggie little Christmas
No feast is complete without a good starter, and the possibilities are endless. Impress your guests with Tuscan kale stuffed with rice, chicory and nettles. It may sound complicated, but it’s surprisingly cheap and easy. Or, try making a classic lasagne using soya mince. If you’re after something more hearty, serve up pasta (try rigatoni or spaghetti made with rice or soya) with a vegetable sauce made with carrots, broccoli, kale, pinenuts and capers. For your main course, soya products can be used in all their forms – seitan fried in breadcrumbs or tofu in a spicy or sweet-and-sour sauce. Potatoes and cabbage make perfect side dishes that’ll fill you with antioxidants and boost those energy levels.
Pulses are an absolute must for Christmas and New Year dishes in Italy. According to tradition they bring good fortune, and with it a hefty dose of protein. With that reputation, you’d better include some beans, chick peas or lentils in your New Year’s Eve meal. Even the biggest carnivores can’t afford to miss out - pulses on the menu are believed to guarantee wealth for the year to come.
Recipe: Stuffed Tuscan kale leaves
White and Thai rice combined
Wild nettle leaves
Salt and black pepper to taste
Boil the kale leaves in a pan, taking care not to cook them too much. Once they’re soft, take them out and leave the water over the heat
Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, chillis and curry powder, then season with salt and black pepper
When the vegetables are soft add the finely chopped chicory and nettles. Add a splash of the water you used to boil the kale leaves
Once the water has been absorbed, add the rice and cook it slowly, stirring constantly and adding the broth a spoonful at a time
When the rice is cooked, form rolls by wrapping the rice mixture up with the kale leaves. For even more flavour, top with cheese and place under the grill