Festive vegetarian mains
Festive feasts in our house are varied and slightly complicated because we have vegetarian plus gluten-intolerant family members. It’s become easier over the years simply because we now ask them all to contribute to celebratory meals by bringing their own choices and enough to share.
Vegetables are a must with any special dinner or lunch and with little effort they can be dressed up and served as a vegetarian main. For example, the popular quick-roasted mixed vegetables (kumara, pumpkin, potatoes, capsicums and mushrooms) sprinkled with fresh herbs and a flavoured and crumbled feta cheese; or grilled skewered veggies topped with hollandaise sauce; or baked mushrooms stuffed with breadcrumbs, garlic and cheese.
Vegetable stacks make excellent vegetarian mains as they can be prepared at least a day ahead and reheated in the oven or microwave. Stack roasted vegetables between layers of wraps or tortillas or make a stack of vegetables in a cake pan and hold it together with beaten egg to make a giant frittata.
Super salads to accompany mains that will appeal to the whole family include:
watermelon cubes, minted peas and melted mint jelly as a dressing: blanched green beans and broccoli florets sprinkled with pumpkin and sunflower seeds and drizzled with ranch dressing; asparagus salad with walnuts & goat’s cheese; or pearl couscous salad (see www.janbilton.co.nz).
Based on a recipe from Harry Williams, head chef at Alpha Street Kitchen & Bar, Cambridge. The beetroot juice can be from a can. A little Fresh As freeze-dried beetroot powder will help with the colour. Risotto is best served freshly made but it can be made ahead and reheated. Add a little extra liquid. Get the recipe
A delicious accompaniment for festive mains. Get the recipe
Vegetable platter with herby yoghurt
Add other vegetables such as asparagus, if preferred. Serves 4-6.
3/4 cup plain Greek yoghurt
3 tablespoons each: finely chopped chives, dill leaves, mint
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
250g each: young tender green beans, butter beans, carrots
450g can artichoke hearts
3-4 spring onions
- To prepare sauce, combine the yoghurt, chopped herbs and seasonings. Place in a serving jug or bowl.
- Prepare the vegetables by slicing the mushrooms thickly, top and tailing the beans, slicing the carrots into batons, draining and cutting the artichoke hearts in quarters and dicing the spring onions. Wash the beans well in plenty of cold water.
- Place the mushrooms in the centre of a large platter. Place the wet vegetables — excluding the spring onions — around them. Cover with plastic film and microwave for 6-8 minutes depending on the texture and size of the vegetables— until crisp-tender. Alternatively steam the vegetables. Sprinkle with the spring onions. Serve with the herby yoghurt.
Super vegetable stack
Salting the eggplant draws the moisture out resulting in less oil being absorbed. This makes an excellent vegetarian main. Prepare ahead and reheat in the microwave or oven. Serves 6-8.
1 medium eggplant
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
300g each: peeled & seeded pumpkin, potatoes, asparagus
2 red capsicums
1 1/2 cups shredded tasty cheese,
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Peel and slice the eggplant. Place on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Stand for 30 minutes then wash and pat dry.
- Sauté the eggplant in a little oil in a non-stick frying pan for about 2 minutes on each side, until softened. Drain on paper towels. Sauté the onion in the remaining oil, until soft.
- Thinly slice the pumpkin and potatoes. Steam, until just tender. Pat dry. Blanch the asparagus. Seed and slice the capsicums.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C. Lightly grease a 20-23cm deep cake pan.
- Layer the ingredients in the pan in the following order — pumpkin, eggplant, onion, thyme, half the cheese, capsicums, asparagus and potato. Season each layer. Gently press the vegetables down. Carefully pour the egg on top, allowing it to seep through the layers. Top with the remaining cheese.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the egg is set. Cool, then refrigerate.