Saturday, 14 April 2012

Planning your Meal for a Vegetarian Holiday Season

If you have just gone vegetarian and are coming up to you first vegetarian holiday season, or if you find yourself cooking for a vegetarian this holiday season this is the article for you. A vegetarian holiday season need not be a gloomy series of substitutes for meat. Vegetarian fare can be festive in its own right.

A good nut roast is one of the delights of the vegetarian table. It takes some time to make so it is not something that vegetarians eat every day. But it takes much less time than a turkey.

You will need a selection of nuts and this is season of nuts. You will also need a food processor to grind them to a paste. The kind of nuts you use influences the flavor and color of the finished roast. Almonds, walnuts, cashews and some hazel nuts make an excellent vegetarian roast but be guided by your own tastes.

Grind the nuts and season them with salt, pepper and spices. Nutmeg is an ideal spice to use. Add some liquid such as vegetable stock and put the mixture into a tin. It should be baked in the oven for about an hour depending on size.

To accompany your vegetarian roast you will need sauces. Cranberry sauce is fine for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. An onion gravy made with vegetable stock will be eaten by all your guests.

Stuffing can be cooked in a separate dish. A combination of brown rice, dried fruit, chopped apples and spices will make a delicious accompaniment to the vegetarian roast. Just avoid adding meat fat. Rely on vegetable fat such as vegetarian suet.

For the visual aspect of a festive vegetarian meal you need to think about vegetables. Decorate your table with a variety of vegetable dishes. Baked squashes make a spectacular centre piece. Stuffed vegetables will show that you have taken that little bit of extra care about the meal.

If your meal is to be entirely vegetarian give the vegetables centre stage on your table. Their colors will delight the eyes of your diners. If you are entertaining vegetarians and non-vegetarians then the turkey will have to take pride of place. But all your guests will be able to tuck into the vegetarian dishes. Your meal may open their eyes to the world of vegetarian cuisine.

Remember that your vegetarian guests may be vegan. If you cannot ascertain this in advance then it will be as well to avoid the use of eggs and milk in your vegetarian dishes. A nut roast is often bound together with eggs but this is not essential. Cream sauces for dessert can be made from ground nuts. Cashews are always popular for this. Soya cream is also available.

When creating a cheese board take care to ensure that at least one cheese is made without rennet. Rennet comes from the lining of a cow's stomach and many vegetarians will not eat it. You might also like to have a few soy based cheeses. The soft soy based cheeses are an excellent option for guests who are watching their cholesterol levels as well as vegetarians and vegans.

The whole point of a holiday season is to share with friends and family. So if you are a non-vegetarian cooking for vegetarians or you are a vegetarian cooking for non-vegetarians make your festive table welcoming to all.

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