When Welsh chef Gaz Oakley went vegan, he applied the techniques he'd learned as a professional chef to some of his favourite dishes - with delicious results. Here's some of his festive best from his new book Vegan Christmas, available from bookstores nationally.
Stuffed pumpkin roast
What a beautiful array of flavours and colours, all stuffed inside my favourite vegetable.
1 large butternut pumpkin, washed
a little olive oil
For the glazed onions
2 red onions, ﬁnely sliced
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
5 tbsp organic coconut sugar
For the Christmas rice
150g (¾ cup) wild rice, cooked
150g whole cooked vacuum-packed chestnuts, roughly chopped
75g dried apricots, chopped
150g (1 cup) mixed nuts, chopped
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of paprika
juice of ½ lemon
pinch of sea salt and pepper
pinch of dried sage
For the sautéed mushrooms
160g (1½ cups) fresh mushrooms
1 tsp roasted garlic powder
sea salt and pepper
5 tbsp cranberry and orange sauce (recipe below)
4 capsicums, roasted, skin removed
6 sun-dried tomatoes, re-hydrated
2 handfuls baby spinach
Preheat your oven to 180C. Split the pumpkin in half lengthways, place cut-side-up onto a baking tray and bake for 45 minutes, or until just soft.
Meanwhile, make the glazed onions. Heat 3 tablespoons of water in a non-stick saucepan, add the sliced onion and sweat for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and sugar, then cook for a further 10 minutes over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until caramelised. Set aside.
Mix the Christmas rice ingredients in a mixing bowl until fully combined, then set aside.
Sauté your mushrooms. Heat 2 tablespoons of water in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms, garlic powder and seasoning. Sauté for 5 minutes.
When the pumpkin is cooked and cooled slightly, scoop out the seeds, then scoop out a 2cm channel of flesh and mix that into the Christmas rice mixture. Spoon the cranberry sauce into one of the pumpkin halves, followed by the rice. Top with the capsicum, onions, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. Place the other pumpkin half on top, tie together in three places and roast for a further 15 minutes. Carve and serve straight away.
Nut roast wreath with homemade cranberry sauce. Photo: Simon Smith
Festive nut roast wreath
Well, it wouldn't be a vegan Christmas without a nut roast! Roasted in a wreath-shaped tin and topped with my cranberry sauce, it's the perfect Christmas centrepiece.
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 leek, finely chopped
200g butternut pumpkin, peeled, and cut into small cubes
1 small eggplant, cut into small cubes
60g vacuum-packed chestnuts, roughly chopped
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped sea salt and pepper
1 orange, zest and juice
140g (1 cup) mixed nuts (Brazil nuts, pistachios, walnuts, etc.)
165g (1 cup) cooked chickpeas
45g (½ cup) gluten-free breadcrumbs
50g (⅓ cup) dried cranberries, roughly chopped
50g (¼ cup) dried apricots, roughly chopped
50g (⅓ cup) sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
3 tsp white miso paste
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp nutritional yeast
3 tsp Marmite (or Vegemite)
For the cranberry topping
6 tbsp cranberry and orange sauce (recipe below)
fried sage leaves
Preheat your oven to 180C. Grease a non-stick 25cm cake ring tin. (Line with baking paper if it's not non-stick.)
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and sauté the onion, celery, garlic, leek, squash, eggplant and chestnuts for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Add the spices, herbs, some seasoning and the orange zest. Turn the heat down and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring every now and then. You want all the flavours to marry together and the vegetables to soften slightly.
While the vegetables are cooking, blitz the nuts in a blender until they are a crumb-like consistency. Add the chickpeas and pulse it a couple times just to break them down slightly. Tip these into the saucepan and add the breadcrumbs, cranberries, apricots and sun-dried tomatoes, stirring well.
Add the vinegar, miso paste, nutritional yeast and Marmite and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often, then turn off the heat.
Spoon the cranberry and orange sauce into the tin and spread out evenly, then carefully spread the nut roast mixture on top. Press the mix into the tin as much as you can. Once you've filled the tin, cover it over with foil and roast in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes.
After roasting, allow to cool slightly before turning out of the tin. Serve your festive nut roast wreath topped with your chosen garnishes.
Roast potatoes, no duck fat required. Photo: Simon Smith
Best-ever vegan roasties
Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, I love making (and eating!) these. Shaking them in the pan roughs up the edges – vital for crispiness.
1kg floury potatoes, peeled
3 tbsp plain flour (or a gluten-free flour)
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
3 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 shallots, peeled and quartered
4 garlic cloves
First up, preheat your oven to 180C. Cut your potatoes into similar-sized pieces, pop them into a large saucepan filled with water and add a pinch of salt.
Cover the saucepan and place it over a high heat. Bring to the boil and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the potatoes just start to soften on the outsides.
Tip the par-boiled potatoes into a colander to drain, then return them to the saucepan to steam dry for a few minutes before sprinkling over the flour.
Place the lid back on the saucepan and give the pan a good shake for 30 seconds. This creates the rough edges on the potatoes which is key to getting crispy roasties.
Pour the oils into a deep-sided, non-stick, metal baking tray and set on your hob over a very low heat. Add the potatoes before it gets hot and allow the potatoes to colour a little bit, turning them often, for around 3 minutes. Season the potatoes, and add the rosemary, shallots and garlic to the tray.
Once the they are lightly golden, transfer the tray to the oven for 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are crispy and golden. I usually turn my roasties half way through cooking.
An essential condiment to spruce up your Christmas meal.
300g (3 cups) fresh cranberries
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 small cinnamon stick
1 apple, grated
200g (1 cups) castor sugar
240ml (1 cup) fresh orange juice
To sterilise your jars, place them in a large saucepan filled with cold water, place over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 3 minutes then turn off the heat. Carefully remove the jars from the water when you're ready to fill them.
Heat all the ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat with the lid on. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring often.
Remove the jars from the hot water, spoon the sauce into the hot jars and seal. The sauce will keep for 4 weeks in the fridge.
Eggplant platter with optional parsnip crisps. Photo: Simon Smith
Stuffed eggplant platter
A lighter option for your Christmas spread, but no compromise on taste. Make sure you char the eggplants before baking – it adds loads of flavour.
4 eggplants, cut in half lengthways
3 tsp miso paste
1½ tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp rapeseed oil
FOR THE STUFFING
3 tsp rapeseed oil
1 red onion, cubed
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 red capsicum, cubed
1 zucchini, cubed
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked, finely chopped
3 tsp fresh thyme leaves
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp cayenne
zest of 1 orange
4 tomatoes, cubed
225g (1½ cups) quinoa or couscous, cooked
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
For the tahini dressing
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp tahini
120ml (½ cup) cold water
juice of ½ lemon
pinch of sea salt and pepper
For the parsnip crisps (optional)
1 parsnip, peeled
3 tbsp vegetable oil
pinch of sea salt and pepper
fresh thyme leaves
seeds of ½ pomegranate
handful of walnuts, toasted
Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper and preheat your oven to 180C.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the miso, maple syrup and 2 tablespoons of the oil with a fork or small whisk until smooth.
Heat a griddle pan and add the remaining oil. When the pan is very hot, add the eggplants, cut-side down (do this in batches if your pan is small). Char the eggplants for around 3 minutes on both sides, transferring to the lined baking tray, cut-side up, as you go.
Generously spread the miso mix over the top of the eggplants, then pop them into the oven to cook through for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile make the stuffing. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, pepper and zucchini and fry, stirring, for 2 minutes before adding the herbs, spices and orange zest. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes more, until softened. Stir in the tomatoes, quinoa, pinenuts and seasoning, then turn off the heat.
Remove the eggplants from the oven. Carefully (as they are very hot) use a fork to squish down the flesh in the centre of the eggplants leaving a 1cm border all around the edge. (I much prefer doing it this way as I don't want to lose any of the flavour which could happen if you scoop the filling out the traditional way.)
Spoon the vegetable stuffing mix generously into the eggplants, then place them back into the oven for a further 15 minutes.
If you are serving your stuffed eggplants with crispy parsnips, make them now. Use a swivel peeler to peel the parsnip flesh into ribbons. Add them to a bowl and pour over the oil. Sprinkle with seasoning and give it a good mix, making sure all the ribbons are well coated.
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and spread out the parsnip ribbons. You don't have to be overly neat just make sure they aren't all on top of one another. Bake in the oven on the middle shelf for 10 to 12 minutes. Alternatively, for extra crispy parsnips, you can shallow fry them. Heat your oil to around 180C, then carefully place the parsnip ribbons into the oil to fry for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden. Remove the ribbons from the oil using a slotted spoon and place them onto a plate lined with kitchen paper. The parsnips will crisp up after a couple minutes of cooling.
Just before serving, mix together all the ingredients for the tahini dressing with a fork in a small mixing bowl. Check the seasoning before serving.
When the eggplants are ready, arrange them on a serving platter, generously topped with tahini dressing, crispy parsnips, fresh thyme, pomegranate seeds and toasted walnuts.
I was so pleased when I 'veganised' this Italian classic. It's the perfect festive dessert and even more showstopping when you add a sparkler!
FOR THE SPONGE
250ml (1 cup) almond milk
3 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
50g (¼ cup) vegan spread
215g (1¾ cups) self-raising flour (or gluten-free flour)
230g (generous 1 cup) unrefined castor sugar
pinch sea salt
FOR THE CREAM
2 x 400g tins coconut cream
170g vegan cream cheese
3 tsp cacao powder
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp icing sugar
120ml (½ cup) good-quality coffee, brewed over ice
3 tbsp rum, or to taste
grated dark chocolate
Preheat your oven to 180C and line a 5cm deep 20cm x 30cm baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
First up, the sponge! Put the almond milk, apple cider vinegar, vanilla paste and vegan spread into a small saucepan over a low heat. Measure the flour, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl. When the spread has melted, pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and fold together. Scrape the batter into your lined baking tray and level out.
Place the tray into the oven to bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden and springy to the touch, then turn out the sponge onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Whisk the coconut cream, cream cheese, cacao powder and icing sugar together in a large mixing bowl until fully incorporated. Add a few tablespoons of coffee and rum, then taste. Adjust the flavours according to how you like it.
Cut 12 discs of sponge to fit into your serving glasses. Pop a sponge disc in the base of each glass, then a spoonful of cream, then another sponge disc. Drizzle in a little more coffee and spoon in another layer of cream. Top each tiramisu with chocolate shavings and a couple coffee beans. Eat straight away or chill in the fridge for up to one day.
This is an edited extract from Vegan Christmas by Gaz Oakley published by Quadrille, RRP $32.99 available in stores nationally.