There is something special about bringing a meaningful dish, a product of hard work and the occasional shed tear, to the Christmas table and witnessing all the important people in your life fall in love with it. Especially when that reaction is genuine – I’ve had a few food failures in the past that I nonetheless decided to present for the consumption of others and I could almost see the tears glistening in everyone’s eyes in response to my wannabe gourmet creations.
I, however, like to believe that I’ve become a much better cook since those dark days and like to make celebratory meals of any kind a pleasant experience. While I am writing this, Christmas is a mere two days away and I am very excited to cook for the family. Christmas, of course, is much more than just food and presents, the former is still a universal language that brings everyone together and makes you appreciate having the ability to sit around a table with your loved ones, enjoy the deliciousness, appreciate the spirit in which the festive season is conducted. Actually making the food is very special to me – my mum and I have different schedules and rarely find time to spend together in the kitchen, and when Christmas day comes around it is always exciting to see what we can make when we combine our best efforts.
My favourite part of Christmas dinners is always the little things, no matter how much I may love the main dish – the cheese platters, the sweet treats, luxurious warm salads. And contrary to popular belief, since going vegan I have exposed myself to a broader variety of foods as opposed to feeling deprived during celebratory meals. While the three ideas below may not be the most ‘Christmassy’ recipes ever, this is intentional as I wanted to make this post transcend seasonal boundaries and the recipes – appropriate for any celebration throughout the year (you can even adopt the Russian tradition of preparing an entire table of food for whenever you have guests round – us Russians may not smile at you on the street but our hospitality is total #goals). There are vegan-friendly, but will appeal to anyone regardless of their dietary requirements. Do let me know in the comments whether you try any of them, and what your favourite type of party food happens to be.
Mini Chia Seed Cheese Rolls (Vegan)
Perfect for any special occasion, these vegan treats are sure to be a party pleaser. Serve with any dip of your choice.
- 1 cup all purpose flour (use gluten free if desired)
- 80g vegan butter of choice (make sure it’s suitable for baking)
- 4-5 tbsp plant milk of choice
- 1 chia egg (1 tbsp chia seeds + 2 tbsp water, left to stand for 5 minutes)
- pinch of sea salt
- 40g vegan cheese (I used this one), grated
- Preheat an oven to 200 degrees C/392 F.
- Add flour, butter and sea salt to a large mixing bowl. Start combining using a fork.
- Pour in the chia egg before incrementally adding the milk until you are able to form a firm dough ball using your hands.
- Sprinkle some flour over a flat surface and roll out the dough using a rolling pin into a thin, rectangular sheet. Sprinkle with the grated cheese, adding more or less as desired.
- Cut the dough into 6-8 even strips. Dipping your fingertips into flour to avoid sticking, roll them up tightly to form the swirls.
- Bake in the preheated oven for around fifteen minutes, until the dough is crispy and the cheese had melted. Serve immediately or store in the fridge.
Sweet and Sour Vegan Salad
Quick to throw together and full of pronounced, contrasting flavours, this salad makes a perfect addition to a festive table as a side dish.
- 9 stalks dark leafy kale, chopped into strips
- 1.5 cups spinach
- 5-6 tbsp sweetcorn
- 1 cup canned lentils
- 1 cup chopped white cabbage
- 1 medium white onion
- 5 medium vine tomatoes
- 2 orange bell peppers
- 1.5 avocados, chopped
- 2 medium oranges, peeled and chopped into circles.
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- pinch of sea salt
- pinch of sesame seeds
- Heat up lentils in the microwave or on the hob as instructed on the can.
- Simply throw together the ingredients in a large salad bowl, stirring until well combined. Taste occasionally and adjust the seasoning as desired.
- Serve warm or leave to cool in the fridge.
Bite Size Tofu Tacos
These mini tacos make an adorable addition as a starter or a side dish to any festive table. They are easy to put together, healthy and full of unique flavours that are sure to bring variety to any occasion.
- Vegan tortilla wraps or taco shells (see notes)
- 500g firm tofu
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tbsp turmeric
- 6 medium vine tomatoes
- 1 large avocado, chopped
- a few handfuls of spinach
- 3/4 cup frozen green peas, thawed
- tahini as desired, to serve
- After pressing out the moisture, cut the tofu into thin strips. In a mixing bowl, combine with the soy sauce, turmeric and nutritional yeast. Leave to marinade for at least 30 minutes – this is the key to making tofu taste good.
- Heat cooking spray or a small amount of oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. Fry the tofu for around 3.5 minutes on each side, until cripsy and golden brown.
- Distribute tofu evenly between the taco shells alongside the tomatoes, spinach and green peas.
- Serve with a drizzle of tahini and/or a sauce of your choice.
note: it may be difficult to find small wraps/taco shells. What I did to overcome this was cut around a bowl(around 10cm in diameter) on the surface of a much larger wrap to make smaller circles and then served the leftovers with hummus as a dip to avoid food wastage.
Lots of love, Maria ♡