Create a Veggie Christmas Menu

Edited by Vanessa Alexandra Avisado, Eng, Lynn

More and more people are becoming conscious about the health benefits of cutting down on meat. Studies consistently show that a diet with regulated meat intake lessens the risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. As a result, there is a growing population of vegetarians and vegans, and they are creating a whole new world of healthy cuisine.

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The rising commitment of people to vegetarianism has come about not only because of a rising concern for health; it is also driven by a concern for the environment, a desire to respect all forms of life, and a determination to curb the impact of meat consumption on economy and world hunger.

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Vegetarianism has created corresponding changes in the lifestyles of many people. As a result, there is an increasing demand for vegetarian dishes that will provide appetizing alternatives to the usual meat laden preparations. Along with all this is a new niche for recipes that can be as festive as the usual pot roast, steak, or ham. Not surprisingly, many cookbooks and restaurants today have added vegetarian dishes to their menu.

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Still, creating a properly celebratory Christmas dinner remains a task that many people think twice about doing. And yet a delicious Christmas feast is very much possible without the use of meat. True, a Christmas menu has certain traditions attached to it - traditions that include the presence of ham or poultry as regular fare. But with a little out-of-the-box thinking, a little advance notice, and an earnest effort to create a gourmet banquet, a vegetarian cook can show friends and family that a vegetarian spread will earn its share of satisfied sighs from people at the table.

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If you want to take on this challenge and prove to yourself and to others that a sumptuous feast is possible without ham or turkey, then read on for some tips and a sample menu, complete with recipes for the dishes marked with three asterisks {***}.

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Planning Your Menu

Vegetarian meals are generally lighter than meals that contain a lot of meat. This means that if you want to, you can include a few more entrees without serving a dinner that has so much food people are unable to appreciate the fine points of each dish. Here is a sample menu that will fill a buffet table beautifully. Because this menu uses both milk and eggs, it is appropriately referred to as an "ovo-lacto" vegetarian menu.

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Blue Cheese and Mushroom Tart ***

Pumpkin and Walnut Medallions ***

Courgette and Artichoke Wheels

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Pumpkin Ravioli ***

Green Salad

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Focaccia Squares with Basil and Garlic Oil

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Chocolate Cake

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Let's get cooking!

Blue Cheese and Mushroom Tart

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A blue cheese and mushroom tart is a good main dish for a Christmas buffet. It is rich, nutritious, festive looking, and you can actually make it ahead. You can also start it the day before and finish it a few hours before your guests arrive.

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Ingredients for the crust:

  • 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons of very cold butter (Vegan butter if you prefer)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil (whisked together with 3 tablespoons of water)
  • ½ cup grated Gruyere cheese (sharp cheddar will do if you prefer it)
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Ingredients for the filling:

  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • ½ cup finely sliced leeks
  • 1 cup Shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups raw baby spinach (compacted)
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, cut into fine rings
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • A pinch of dried thyme
  • 1 cup finely crumbled blue cheese
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Procedure for the crust:

  1. 1
    In a large bowl, you can put blend the dry ingredients - sugar, salt and of course flour
    .
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  2. 2
    Cut in butter into the flour mixture until you have a mixture resembling coarse oatmeal
    .
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  3. 3
    Gradually stir in water-oil mixture
    .
    Combine everything and knead until the texture becomes smooth to the touch.
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  4. 4
    Add a pinch of flour or so to make the flour easier to handle, or let it rest for 15 minutes.
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  5. 5
    Place in greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
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  6. 6
    Refrigerate for an hour
    .
    This is a good time to cook your type of filling. Get your oven preheat to 350 degrees.
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Procedure for Mushroom Filling:

  1. 1
    Using a wok, lightly sauté the onions, garlic, and spinach
    .
    Remember to cook only until the onions are translucent and the garlic's aroma is released. Remove from heat, empty the wok.
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  2. 2
    Sauté the mushroom, adding more oil if necessary.
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  3. 3
    Add the oregano, paprika, and thyme
    .
    Remove from heat once the mushrooms are browned.
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  4. 4
    Season with salt and a little pepper of if desired.
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Put the tart together:

  1. 1
    Preheat the oven to 350
    .
    Spray the bottom and sides of a springform pan.
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  2. 2
    Remove your dough from the refrigerator and lightly knead between two pieces of wax paper.
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  3. 3
    Once the dough has been rolled out large enough to cover your pan, flip it onto the prepared pan.
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  4. 4
    Press dough evenly and up the sides of your pan.
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  5. 5
    Spoon the veggie mixture into the tart pan.
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  6. 6
    Spread the cottage cheese around the vegetables evenly.
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  7. 7
    Top with the tomato rings.
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  8. 8
    Bake for 35 minutes or until crust is light golden.
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  9. 9
    Cool before slicing.
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Pumpkin and Walnut Medallions

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Make these medallions big enough for a small serving. Remember, your guests need space for the other dishes in your spread.

Ingredients for the medallions:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced fine
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 cups finely grated pumpkin or squash
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
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Procedure:

  1. 1
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C.
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  2. 2
    Gently sauté all ingredients except oatmeal in oil.
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  3. 3
    When the vegetables are just about soft, remove from heat and add oatmeal
    .
    Season with salt, pepper, soy sauce, and thyme.
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  4. 4
    Place food in blender together with oatmeal and process till well blended.
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  5. 5
    Fold in nuts and divide evenly among 12 non-stick muffin cups.
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  6. 6
    Press well to make compact patties and bake for 15 minutes.
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  7. 7
    Cool and carefully remove from muffin tin onto serving plate.
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Ingredients for the topping:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chopped shiitake mushrooms
  • ½ cup minced shallots
  • A pinch of oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Sprigs of parsley

Procedure:

  1. 1
    Sauté shallots until translucent
    .
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  2. 2
    Add soy sauce, oregano and mushrooms
    .
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  3. 3
    Dissolve cornstarch in 4 tablespoons water, drizzle over the mixture and stir.
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  4. 4
    You are done when the sauce starts to thicken
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  5. 5
    Spoon over medallions, garnish with walnuts and parsley.
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Pumpkin Ravioli

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Ravioli is a traditional dish for Christmas Eve in Northern Italy. After partaking of this pasta, in the same way that children in the U.S. hang their stockings, children in this part of the world put out their shoes to be filled with toys and treats by La Befana, their female version of Santa Claus.

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Ingredients for the filling:

  • 4 ½ pounds pumpkin - peel, remove seeds, and then cut up into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon plum jam or marmalade
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • A pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ginger
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
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Procedure:

  1. 1
    Combine pasta ingredients, knead lightly and gather
    .
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  2. 2
    Place in greased bowl, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
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  3. 3
    Preheat oven to 200 degrees C and bake pumpkin for about 30 minutes or until soft.
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  4. 4
    Sauté onions
    .
    Add spices and salt to taste and jam for some sweetness.
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  5. 5
    Turn off heat, pour onto bowl, and combine with all other ingredients including pumpkin.
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  6. 6
    Roll out the dough for pasta until 15 cm by 50 cm and 2 mm thick
    .
    Cover with tea towel to prevent drying.
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  7. 7
    Lay out one layer of dough on tray
    .
    Place a tablespoon of filling in two rows about an 10 cm apart.
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  8. 8
    Spray the bottom layer with water, cover with a second layer of dough and press down along the sides of each mound of filling.
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  9. 9
    Cut into 5 cm squares with a ravioli cutter.
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  10. 10
    Boil about 8 cups of water with 1 tablespoon oil and 1 teaspoon salt.
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  11. 11
    Gently drop ravioli into the boiling water for a few minutes, drain and return to serving pan.
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  12. 12
    Dot with butter, mix gently, and sprinkle generously with parmesan cheese.
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  13. 13
    Optional step
    :
    Broil for 3 to 5 minutes just before serving to develop a crust.
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If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please post in the comments section below.

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Article Info

Categories : Holidays & Traditions

Recent edits by: Eng, Vanessa Alexandra Avisado

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