Think of your typical Christmas feast. Ten bucks says you're imagining things like ham, turkey, prawns, lobster and... falafel?
Truth be told, Christmas is pretty much an omnivore's affair, with vegetarians tending to be overlooked and relegated to eating the side salads. Not really ideal when everyone else is stuffing their faces with Christmas fare.
So what do you do when you have a vegetarian or vegan coming to your Christmas celebration?
"Firstly, remember they are normal human beings, just like everybody else," Mark Price, co-owner of Melbourne's The Vegie Bar, told The Huffington Post Australia. "They talk like everybody else, they think like everybody else, they have normal jobs and lifestyles like everybody else.They just choose not to eat meat.
"No but seriously, just drop the meat component of a dish and you are 80 per cent there. Then just prepare something simple and easy to replace the meat."
Price points out there are plenty of things people are already cooking for Christmas that can easily be "vegetarian-ised."
"For instance there's no need to roast accompanying vegetables basted in animal fats," Price said. "They only need to be basted in a good quality olive oil.
"Then you can add a vegetarian main such as roast stuffed pumpkin or eggplant, grilled king oyster or field mushrooms, a baked frittata or mock meat dish -- the options are endless.
"There are so many recipes that you can just delete the meat component and substitute with mushrooms."
The biggest no-no is just to assume your veggo or vegan friend will be okay to just nibble at the sides.
"Everyone believes salads are the vegan's best friend," Warren Leeds from Those Vegan Aussie Blokes told HuffPost Australia.
"Typically when you go to an omnivore event, it's like 'well, looks like we're eating the salad again'. And chips. Always chips and salad.
"The number one thing you can do is become educated in what vegans eat. If you know someone is a vegan and you are hosting a party, find out what they do and don't eat. It's not hard, then, to come up with something they can enjoy that's not a salad. Jamie Oliver, for instance, has even put together a vegan Christmas feast menu.
"Really, you'll find anything available for an omnivore, there is a substitute you can veganise."
To get you started on your vegetarian-friendly Christmas, Price has kindly provided The Huffington Post with a recipe that even omnivores will look at with envy.
"I chose the stuffed butternut pumpkin recipe, because it is easy to prepare, it is baked (which gives you time to do other things) and it looks great and is tasty," Price said.
"I would be surprised if the meat eaters did not want to try the dish, when seeing it on the vegetarians plate. Thus, the vegetarian feels like they have the better dish, rather than being the guest who has to eat only the leftover vegetable or salad accompaniments to a meat eaters main meal. This is why a vegetarian generally feels left out."
Even better, it's suitable for your vegan pals as well.
Stuffed Butternut Pumpkin
Cook time: 40 mins
- 1 butternut pumpkin (small to medium – max 1kg)
For the filling:
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- Pumpkin flesh, grated (what you scoop out to make room for the filling)
- Handful of pine nuts and pepitas (dried pumpkin seeds)
- 1 small shallot onion, finely sliced (minced)
- 1 oyster mushroom, diced
- A handful of currants
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- Sea salt flakes - to taste
- Black pepper - to taste
- 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
- Chili flakes - to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil for cooking
- Preheat your oven to about 190-200C and line a baking dish with baking paper.
- Cut your pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. If needed, also scoop out some of the flesh to make room for the filling.
- Finely grate the pumpkin flesh if you scoop out any and combine it with the rest of the ingredients and seasonings for the filling.
- Fill your pumpkin halves, gently pressing the filling in.
- Place the pumpkins in the baking dish making sure they won’t roll over. You can put them next to each other.
- Sprinkle another 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top, and cover them with aluminium foil. (This will keep the quinoa moist).
- Bake until the pumpkin is tender. About 35-40 minutes.
- Serve with fresh thyme, sprinkle a few more pine nuts and pumpkin seeds on top. (You can also add a dash of good quality olive oil on top, or melt some cheese of your choice on top if you desire -- though this last option is not suitable for vegans.)
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