Credit: Earl Carter

Vegan Christmas recipes

Annie Smithers is the owner and chef of du Fermier in Trentham, Victoria. Her latest book is Recipe for a Kinder Life. She is a food editor of The Saturday Paper.

Credit: Earl Carter

Christmas doesn’t have to be about turkey, ham and roast pork. One of the things I have learnt living in a vegetarian household for the past three years is that Christmas is about celebration, and that the meat-free dishes need to be as festive and bright as those for the omnivores. Both the following dishes fulfil my partner’s desire for something grand to present and something that is served with a variety of condiments.

So for Christmas this year we will be starting with a burnished, golden roasted cauliflower. Rubbed with spices, nestled on a creamy bed of hummus, green herbs and leaves, with the sparkling garnish of pomegranate seeds and pistachios. The dish works as an appetiser where guests can break off pieces of cauliflower and dip them in the hummus while collecting a bit of salad and dressing along the way. Or it can become an entree, served on a platter and then plated as a structured dish. It will be followed by mushroom Wellington – a splendid-looking specimen, accompanied by festive fruit chutney, mustard, a crisp salad and roast vegetables.

And for all those who prefer the more traditional meat dishes for Christmas, don’t fall into the trap of making only enough of these dishes for the vegans at the table. They are so delicious everyone will want to be part of the fun.


Roasted cauliflower   

Serves 8

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp chermoula
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, base trimmed, a few leaves intact


  • 400g can chickpeas, rinsed, drained
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 60ml (¼ cup) fresh lemon juice
  • 60ml (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • salt and pepper

To serve

  • ⅓ cup firmly packed fresh mint leaves, plus extra, to serve
  • ⅓ cup firmly packed fresh continental parsley leaves, plus extra, to serve
  • ⅓ cup firmly packed fresh coriander leaves
  • 55g (⅓ cup) pistachio kernels
  • 100g spinach
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate arils
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 50ml olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC or 160ºC fan-forced. Combine the crushed cumin seeds, ground coriander and chermoula. Place the cauliflower in a baking dish. Pour 375 millilitres (1½ cups) of water in the base of the dish. Sprinkle the cauliflower with the spices and apply a drizzle of oil. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until golden and tender.
  2. Meanwhile, process the chickpeas, tahini, two tablespoons of the lemon juice, one tablespoon of olive oil, the garlic and one to two tablespoons of warm water in a food processor until thick and creamy. Season the hummus and transfer to a bowl.
  3. Roughly chop the mint, parsley, coriander and two tablespoons of the pistachios. Add the remaining lemon juice and olive oil along with the spinach. Season.
  4. Spread the hummus over a large serving plate, and top with some salad and then the roasted cauliflower. Sprinkle the pomegranate arils and remaining pistachios on top, and add some pomegranate molasses and olive oil to serve.

Mushroom Wellington

Serves 4

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 large purple onions, peeled and sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 300g baby spinach
  • 4 large Swiss brown mushrooms, stalks trimmed and cleaned
  • 2 sheets vegan puff pastry
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 4 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
  1. Place a large frying pan over a low to medium-low heat. Add half a tablespoon of the oil followed by the onions and turn the heat to low. Season to taste and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions are soft and caramelised. Add the vinegar and reduce, making sure the onions don’t catch. Remove the onions from the pan, then return the pan to the heat. Add the baby spinach and cook until wilted, then remove and leave to cool.
  2. Increase the heat to medium-high and return the pan to the heat. Add the remaining oil and place the mushrooms in the pan, top-side down. Cook until lightly golden (about five minutes) before turning and cooking the other side until golden. Remove from the heat, and drain on paper towel, top-side up (they will release a lot of liquid as they cool). Transfer the onions, spinach and mushrooms to the refrigerator and cool completely.
  3. Place a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray and then place a puff pastry sheet on top. Spread half the caramelised onion over the middle third of the pastry, making sure to leave an extra two-centimetre border at the edge of the pastry. Top with half the baby spinach. Spread the Dijon mustard over the mushrooms and season well with salt and pepper. Place the mushrooms on top of the spinach. Top the mushrooms with thyme and the remaining baby spinach and onions.
  4. Very carefully roll the pastry over the top of the mushroom mixture until you have a log. Press down to seal the edges. Roll over the log so the seam is facing the bottom. Decorate with the other piece of pastry. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  5. Put the pastry back on the baking sheet and tray and place in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden and flaky.

Festive fruit chutney

Makes 1.5kg

  • 5 cans peaches in syrup, each 400g, drained (discard syrup)
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 3 chillies, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 piece fresh ginger, 4cm, finely chopped
  • 600g brown sugar
  • 220g sultanas
  • 3 cups white wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a large heavy-based non-reactive stockpot and simmer for about one hour or until thickened. Stir gently at regular intervals and take care the mixture does not catch on the bottom of the pot. Spoon into sterilised preserving jars. Seal and store in a cool place away from sunlight. The chutney will keep for at least a year.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on December 21, 2019 as "Vegan merry Christmas".

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