Have your­self a veg­gie lit­tle Christ­mas

Anna Jones’s fes­tive feast

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page - Anna Jones is a chef, writer and au­thor of A Mod­ern Way to Eat and A Mod­ern Way to Cook. (Fourth Es­tate); an­na­jones.co.uk; @we_are_­food Anna Jones Find us on Twit­ter @guardian­cook and In­sta­gram @guardian_­cook

Christ­mas al­ways creeps up on me. I’m never quite sure how, be­cause talk of where we will spend it start as soon as the sum­mer ends. This year we are head­ing to An­gle­sey, the beau­ti­ful lit­tle is­land off the coast of north Wales where we got mar­ried last sum­mer. Christ­mas din­ner is al­most al­ways my do­main. It has be­come less con­ven­tional in re­cent years; we are a fam­ily of veg­e­tar­i­ans and ve­g­ans, and this year my one-year-old, Dy­lan, will have his first proper Christ­mas meal. My task is to make some­thing that will unite us all around the ta­ble.

I al­ways make two main dishes. This year it will be a cele­riac and sweet gar­lic pie, which is ev­ery­thing I want in such a dish: flaky, cheese-spiked pas­try, a lav­ish fill­ing with loads of flavour, and a crisp-tex­tured top to crown it. I will also make my Christ­mas galette for the ve­g­ans (find my recipe on­line). The trim­mings change each year, and this time I’m go­ing for golden crusted roast sprouts, harissa and miso roast squash, all topped with a veg­e­tar­ian gravy that ev­ery­one will be fight­ing over. The feast starts with a pick­led squash, charred clemen­tine and radic­chio salad. It needs to be started the night be­fore, but it’s well worth the ef­fort. It’s just the thing to get taste­buds and con­ver­sa­tions go­ing. We’ll end with a ginger­bread and cran­berry tart that’s lighter than the usual Christ­mas of­fer­ing and, I prom­ise, all the bet­ter for it.

Christ­mas din­ner has be­come less con­ven­tional in re­cent years as we are a fam­ily of veg­e­tar­i­ans and ve­g­ans

Charred clemen­tine, pick­led squash and radic­chio salad Serves 8-10

1 large but­ter­nut squash

100ml white wine vine­gar

1 tsp co­rian­der seeds

1 tsp fen­nel seeds

A cin­na­mon stick

A good pinch of dried chilli

2 sprigs rose­mary

1 tsp coarse sea salt

10 black pep­per­corns

200g feta cheese

8 clemen­tines, 1 zested

2 heads radic­chio

For the dress­ing

2 tbsp bal­samic vine­gar

4 tbsp olive oil

1 lime, juiced

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 Peel and slice the squash as thinly as pos­si­ble and put the slices in a large mix­ing bowl. Warm the vine­gar in a pan with the spices, rose­mary, salt and pep­per un­til just be­fore it comes to a boil, then pour over the squash and leave overnight.

2 On the day, set the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Put the feta on to a bak­ing tray with a spoon­ful of the vine­gar and spice mix­ture and the zest of a clemen­tine, and roast for 40 min­utes, un­til bur­nished on top.

3 Make the dress­ing by mix­ing to­gether the bal­samic, oil and lime with 3 tbsp of water un­til thick, then add the maple syrup and mix again.

4 Heat a grid­dle pan. Cut the radic­chio into wedges, peel the clemen­tines and cut them in half across the mid­dle. Once the grid­dle is smok­ing hot, put the clemen­tines on their flat side un­til they are nicely charred then set aside. Next grid­dle/fry the squash on both sides – you may need to do this in batches. Then grid­dle the radic­chio on both of its flat sides.

5 Once ev­ery­thing is grid­dled, lay the clemen­tines, radic­chio and squash on a big plat­ter and driz­zle gen­er­ously with the dress­ing. Serve just warm with good warm toast if you like.

Cele­riac and sweet gar­lic pie

With its ched­dar and win­ter herb pas­try, this high-sided pie takes a lit­tle time, but at Christ­mas I think that’s OK.

Serves

8-10 For the pas­try

250g plain white spelt flour

125g but­ter, cold, cubed

½ tsp fine sea salt

A few sprigs of rose­mary, thyme and sage, leaves picked and finely chopped

Zest of 1 lemon

25g good ched­dar, grated

1 egg yolk

50-70ml cold water

For the fill­ing

3 medium heads gar­lic, cloves sep­a­rated and peeled

1 tbsp olive oil, plus a lit­tle ex­tra to fin­ish

1 tsp bal­samic vine­gar

1 tbsp honey

2 sprigs of rose­mary, thyme and sage, leaves picked and finely chopped

1kg cele­riac

220g crum­bled Lan­cashire or good ched­dar cheese

150g creme fraiche

Juice of ½ lemon

1 tbsp whole­grain mus­tard

A small bunch of pars­ley, chopped

2 eggs, beaten

A few splashes of Worcestershire sauce (I use a veg­e­tar­ian one)

Salt and freshly ground black pep­per

1 Put the flour in a mix­ing bowl. Add the but­ter and salt. Rub gen­tly with your fin­ger­tips un­til it is like fine bread­crumbs. Stir through the herbs, lemon zest and grated ched­dar.

2 Beat the yolk with 1 tbsp cold water. Add to the flour and mix to a dough. Add water a tea­spoon at a time if needed un­til it forms a smooth dough. Wrap in cling­film and chill.

3 For the fill­ing, put the cloves of gar­lic into a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a gen­tle sim­mer. Cook for 2-3 min­utes, then drain.

4 Wipe the saucepan dry. Add the gar­lic and olive oil and fry on a high heat for 2 min­utes. Add the vine­gar

Flaky cheeses-piked pas­try, a lav­ish fill­ing with loads of flavour, and a crisp-tex­tured top to crown it ...

and 200ml water, bring to the boil and sim­mer gen­tly for 10 min­utes.

5 Add the honey, most of the rose­mary and thyme (re­serv­ing the rest, with the sage) and a good pinch of salt. Con­tinue to cook on a medium heat for a fur­ther 5 min­utes, or un­til most of the liq­uid has evap­o­rated and the gar­lic cloves are coated in a dark syrup.

6 Mean­while, peel the cele­riac and cut it into quar­ters. Set aside 300g and slice the rest into 2cm-thick pieces. Put them into a saucepan, cover with hot water and boil for 7-10 min­utes.

7 Drain and tip into a big mix­ing bowl. Add the cheese, creme fraiche, lemon juice, mus­tard, pars­ley and eggs. Add a good pinch of salt and grind of pep­per and gen­tly fold in the gar­lic cloves.

8 Pre­heat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3. Sprin­kle flour on to a work sur­face and roll out the pas­try to 34mm thick. Line a 20cm-di­am­e­ter cake tin with the pas­try, en­sur­ing a lit­tle spills over the edges.

9 Add the fill­ing. Grate the re­served cele­riac and pile it on top. Fin­ish with the re­served rose­mary and thyme, all the sage, and a driz­zle of olive oil. Bake for 45 min­utes or un­til the tart fill­ing has set and the top is golden brown.

10 Re­move from the oven, leave to cool a lit­tle, then take it out of the tin. Lay a few herbs on top and serve warm.

Roast veg­etable and win­ter herb gravy Serves 8

2 leeks

2 red onions

2 sticks of cel­ery

4 car­rots

2 gar­lic cloves in their skins

2 sprigs of rose­mary, bay and thyme

Salt and black pep­per

Olive oil

2 tbsp flour

500ml dry cider

1 litre veg­etable stock

1 Pre­heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Roughly chop the veg­eta­bles and put them into a large bak­ing tray with the herbs. Sea­son, driz­zle over a lit­tle olive oil, and roast for 45 min­utes or un­til sweet, soft and golden.

2 Re­move the veg­eta­bles from the oven, al­low to cool a lit­tle and use a potato masher to mash them all up.

3 Put the tray of mashed veg­eta­bles on the hob. Add the flour and stir it in for a cou­ple of min­utes. Add the cider and the stock and bring to a sim­mer for 10 min­utes, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally to mix in all the good sticky bits from the tray.

4 Sieve the gravy and keep in the fridge un­til needed. Re­heat with a lit­tle ex­tra hot water or veg­etable stock.

Miso roast squash and pota­toes with al­monds and kale

This recipe saves a lot of work, as squash, pota­toes and greens can be cooked to­gether in one tray. The chilli, miso and lemon combo is a great foil for some of the richer sea­sonal dishes.

Serves 8

500g small pota­toes, scrubbed clean

700g but­ter­nut or other squash

4 tbsp ex­tra vir­gin olive oil

3 tbsp white miso

2 tbsp harissa Juice of

1 lemon

100g kale, de-stemmed and shred­ded

100g toasted al­monds

1 Pre­heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Cut the pota­toes into halves or quar­ters no larger than your thumb.

2 Cut the squash in half length­ways (no need to peel), use a spoon to scoop out the seeds, then cut into 2cm slices.

3 In a small bowl mix to­gether the olive oil, miso, harissa and lemon juice.

4 Put the pota­toes and squash on a bak­ing tray with half the harissa mix. Toss well, us­ing your hands, so ev­ery­thing is coated. Roast for 40-45 min­utes un­til brown­ing at the edges. Turn ev­ery­thing once or twice to make sure it browns evenly, and keep a close eye on it as it can burn in a flash.

5 Add the shred­ded kale and roast for a fi­nal 10 min­utes. It should crisp up a lit­tle. Trans­fer to a serv­ing dish and spoon over the re­main­ing dress­ing and scat­ter with the toasted al­monds.

Golden crusted brus­sels sprouts

This dish has had many de­voted sprout haters reach­ing for a sec­ond help­ing.

Serves 8

250ml white wine vine­gar

2 tbsp mus­tard seeds

1 tbsp co­rian­der seeds

1 tbsp fen­nel seeds

1kg brus­sels sprouts

Ex­tra vir­gin olive oil

This recipe has had many de­voted sprout haters reach­ing for a sec­ond help­ing as it re­sults in a sweet golden crust

Salt and black pep­per

100g gruyere cheese, to serve

1 Set the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Heat the vine­gar and spices in a pan un­til warm, but don’t boil.

2 Trim the stems of the sprouts, re­move any raggedy outer leaves, and cut each in half. Put them into a bowl and pour the hot pick­ling liq­uid over. Leave to sit for at least 1 hour and up to 4. Drain the sprouts, dis­card­ing the pick­ling liq­uid, and put them in a bowl with a glug of olive oil and a cou­ple of pinches of salt.

3 Heat a large heavy bak­ing tray on the hob, add a lit­tle more olive oil, then put the sprouts into the tray, ide­ally cut-side down. Cook on the hob for a minute or two to start the brown­ing. Cover the tray with foil, trans­fer to the oven and roast for 10 min­utes.

4 Re­move from the oven, turn the sprouts over with a spat­ula and put them back for a fur­ther 10 min­utes. They are ready when they are ten­der in­side, and crisp and golden on the out­side. Fin­ish with a few grinds of pep­per and a dust­ing of grated gruyere.

Ginger­bread and cran­berry tart (ac­ci­den­tally ve­gan)

This tart is lighter than a lot of Christ­mas desserts – af­ter a big, rich meal I don’t want a heavy, stodgy pud­ding. I serve it with co­conut yo­ghurt whipped up with some vanilla seeds so my whole fam­ily can eat it, but it would be equally good with cream or cus­tard.

Serves 8-10

For the oat and pecan crust

140g rolled oats

60g pecans, chopped

90g runny honey or black­strap mo­lasses

100g co­conut oil or melted but­ter

Seeds from 1 vanilla pod

1½ tsp ground gin­ger

½ tsp ground cin­na­mon

A pinch of ground cloves

A good pinch of salt

75g whole­meal flour

For the cran­berry fill­ing

2 pears, peeled and sliced thinly

2 tbsp chia seeds

100ml ap­ple juice or water

300g fresh cran­ber­ries

100g light brown sugar or co­conut sugar

60g co­conut oil, melted Seeds from

1 vanilla pod ½ tsp ground cin­na­mon

¼ tsp ground car­damom

1 clemen­tine, zested

1 Pre­heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Put all of the crust in­gre­di­ents in a food pro­ces­sor and pulse to mix.

2 Grease a 24cm loose-bot­tomed tart tin with a lit­tle co­conut oil and press the crust mix evenly into the bot­tom. There’s no need to push it up the sides. Put the pear slices in a sin­gle layer on top of the crust.

3 Com­bine the chia seeds with 100ml of ap­ple juice or water and set aside un­til they come to­gether to form a gel.

4 Mix the cran­ber­ries with the re­main­ing in­gre­di­ents, stir un­til well com­bined, then add the chia mix­ture. Pour the cran­berry fill­ing on top of the crust and pear layer and spread evenly. Bake for 35-45 min­utes.

5 Al­low the tart to cool com­pletely be­fore re­mov­ing it from the tin. Serve with co­conut yo­ghurt or whipped cream.

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