Stuff the Turkey!

… we want nut roast! Chef Alex Connell, Principal Tutor at the Vegetarian Society Cookery School, shares his recipe for a Merry Veggie Christmas.

I love Christmas; just thinking about it gives me that buzz of excitement and endorphins! For me, the perfect Christmas has to be at home with family and friends. As a child we’d enjoy a traditional family celebration, with a turkey dinner and Granny and Grandad coming over. Then one year we went out for lunch to a hotel, probably to give Mum a break. I was about six and tried avocado for the first time, which I really didn’t like! Apart from that, it just didn’t feel right spending Christmas Day away from home and we never did so again.

Trying something different and creating new traditions can be very exciting! My first Christmas as a vegetarian (28 years ago) felt odd, but the following year felt completely normal. Some people will wave a red flag at nut roast because they think it’s bland and just for veggies. Not true!

I’m a huge defender of nut roast; I love its rich texture and flavour. I have it with all the trimmings; roast potatoes, sprouts, cranberry sauce, veggie gravy – veggie sausages and veggie bacon too! You can enjoy nut roast hot or cold: it’s delicious in a butty or with leftover veg on Boxing Day, when everyone’s a bit more relaxed! See the Vegetarian Society website for some great ideas.

With a little pre-planning, you can enjoy Christmas Day and not be tied to the stove. If you’re trying out a new dish, road test it a few weeks beforehand to make sure people like it. Get ahead!

Most things can be made in advance – nut roast, vegetarian Wellington, soup or pa^teÅL starters, mince pies – and put in the fridge or freezer. Most shop-bought Christmas puddings are vegetarian these days. To make your shopping even easier, just look for the Vegetarian Society Approved trademarks.

I love cold weather at Christmas. This year we’ll go for a walk on Christmas morning in National Trust’s Dunham Park. There’ll be deer around and everyone will be in their Christmas jumpers. Then it’s a Christmas pint and back home to batten down the hatches and get cosy in front of the fire, while dinner is cooking. Perfect!

The Vegetarian Society runs cookery courses all year round, providing expert tuition in a friendly environment. Have fun learning to make a series of Festive Feasts and Edible Gifts at Christmas to give your friends and family a fantastic, seasonal treat this year!

Find Alex’s classic nut roast recipe here