Vege Christ­mas

Central Leader - - NEWS -

I’m so veg­e­tar­ian a flock of tur­keys sense it at Christ­mas.

I live in the coun­try­side and one Christ­mas Day a fam­ily of tur­keys walked up the drive­way and spent the day in the back­yard.

Christ­mas is a time peo­ple are par­tic­u­larly in­cred­u­lous about what I’m go­ing to eat if things like turkey or ham are off the menu.

To many Ki­wis veg­eta­bles are the sideshow, not the star act, but they rock my world.

I hope to give you in­sight into the world of veg­e­tar­i­ans at Christ­mas.

To help in­spire you I’ve also in­ter­viewed the ex­ec­u­tive chef of Her­itage Ho­tel Jinu Abra­ham.

The Her­itage has recog­nised veg­e­tar­i­ans and ve­gans have been miss­ing out on when din­ing out. It treats them like kings and queens with their own menu and even a ve­gan high tea that would im­press any­one.

I’m ob­sessed with food, in a healthy way, so I’m al­ways pumped about Christ­mas lunch.

The kind of food I’ve en­joyed on Christ­mas Day has in­cluded a trio of small tarts served with home­grown vege like freshly dug pota­toes and car­rots.

In­side the tarts were: A spicy len­til mix with a mashed roasted pump­kin top­ping; caramelised onion and blue cheese; and a minty feta pea puree.

Right now I’m on the hunt for ideas for this Christ­mas.

A ban­quet themed around Ital­ian or Mid­dle East­ern cuisines is one pos­si­bil­ity for me.

I’m rather tempted by to­mato tart tartins from Novem­ber’s Cui­sine that could eas­ily be turned into a main with a gor­geous salad on the side.

But I’ve also been lured by a recipe for risotto us­ing beet­root as the main in­gre­di­ent and topped with wal­nut and feta.

Her­itage Ho­tel’s Jinu Abra­ham also had risotto on his mind as an op­tion when I asked him for ideas for a veg­e­tar­ian Christ­mas.

Other sug­ges­tions in­cluded a chick­pea tagine or fen­nel, roasted and stuffed and stood on its base in a pool of an egg­plant based caponata sauce.

His idea of a mush­room tart with po­lenta mash and grilled ar­ti­choke served in a sof­fritto sauce (gen­tly fried onion, car­rot and cel­ery) flavoured with sweet pa­prika really got my mouth wa­ter­ing.

Mr Abra­ham says with so many beau­ti­ful veg­eta­bles in sea­son, a trip around mar­kets like Cleve­don, Matakana and Taka­puna should prove in­spi­ra­tion enough.

Veg­e­tar­i­ans and ve­gans are an af­ter-thought at many restau­rants but it’s im­por­tant to care­fully com­pose each dish, he says.

Build­ing flavour is key and if you’re not re­ly­ing on meat for that it’s a very cre­ative process, Mr Abra­ham says.

Flavour can be added with stock, olive oil or spice or it can be the way you cook the veg­etable, for ex­am­ple roast­ing. He says he’s learnt a lot over the past three years by talk­ing with veg­e­tar­i­ans and ve­gans and sourc­ing new prod­ucts. The key, he says, is to cre­ate a com­plete dish and add a mod­ern twist.

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