Vegetable dishes at familiar feasts are usually the sidelights. Make them the main attraction in your special vegetarian holiday meal with these recipe ideas we gathered.

1. Braided Greek Bread for Easter

Ingredients: • 2 packages active dry yeast • 9 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar • 8 tablespoons melted, cooled butter • 5 eggs • 1 egg lightlybeaten • 1 teaspoon salt • 1 tablespoon orange zest • 1 tablespoon lemon zest • 2 hardboiled eggs, dyed red • 2 tablespoons black cumin seeds or poppy seeds • 2 cups warm milk

Stir yeast and warm milk together in a large bowl until yeast is dissolved. Add 1 cup flour and 1 1/2 cup sugar, stir, cover, and set aside for 1 hour. Then, stir in 1/2 cup water and add the butter and 5 eggs. Stir thoroughly. Combine the remaining 8 cups of flour and salt, and sift into the dough. Add the zests, working them in with a wooden spoon. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, adding flour as needed. Then let dough rise in a covered, oiled bowl until doubled in bulk (about 2 hours). Then, divide dough into 6 parts of uniform size and roll into ropes about 15 inches long. Braid 3 strips together, turning the ends under when finished. Repeat with the other 3 strips. At the end of each braid, press one of the dyed eggs. Lay braids on a greased cookie sheet, cover, and let rise again for about an hour. Brush each loaf with beaten egg and sprinkle with cumin or poppy seeds. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes.

2. Thai-spiced Pumpkin Soup for Thanksgiving

You will need: • 2 acorn squash, pumpkins, or other smallish winter squash • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk • 1 teaspoon (or more) red Thai curry paste • Water • 2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt (or to taste) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place the oven racks in the middle. Carefully cut each squash/pumpkin into halves (or quarters).

Slather each piece of squash with butter, sprinkle generously with salt, place on a baking sheet skin sides down, and place in the oven. Roast for about an hour or until the squash is tender throughout. When the pumpkin/squash are cool enough to handle scoop it into a large pot over medium high heat. Add the coconut milk and curry paste and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and puree with a hand blender, you should have a very thick base at this point. Now add water a cup at a time pureeing between additions until the soup is the consistency you prefer – a light vegetable stock would work here as well. Bring up to a simmer again and add the salt (and more curry paste if you like, I used just shy of 6 teaspoons but the curry paste I use is not over-the-top spicy).

3. Meatless Meatballs for any occasion

Serve these tangy, savory vegetarian “meat”-balls in the middle of your meal as a main course. Mix the following in a bowl: • 3/4 cup ground walnuts • 1 1/4 cup crushed soda crackers • 4 eggs • 3 1/2 cups grated cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, or Monterey Jack) • 1 small onion, minced • 1 1/2 teaspoons sage • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley flakes or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced Form into 1″ balls and place in a single layer in a baking dish. Sauce: In a saucepan, combine: • 3/4 cup apricot jam • 1/4 cup lemon juice • 1/4 cup oil (such as safflower, canola or olive) • 1/2 cup ketchup • 2 tablespoons grated onion • 2 tablespoons oregano • 2 tablespoons brown sugar Bring to a boil and pour over “meat”-balls. Bake at 350 for 1/2 hour.

4. Beans and Greens for the 4th of July

Your meal has to have something green! Here is a recipe for greens that is nutritious and quick. Ingredients: • Olive oil • 2 minced garlic cloves • 2 bunches of greens such as kale, chard, and/or turnip greens • 2 bunches of broccoli • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes • 1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare greens by removing the stems and tearing into pieces. Trim the florets from the broccoli. Heat oil in a large skillet and add the garlic. Sauté for a minute or so, then add the greens, broccoli and red pepper flakes. Add salt to taste, then remove mixture from the skillet and keep warm. Add some more olive oil to the skillet and sauté the tomatoes about 5 minutes, or until the skins brown and split. Stir in the beans and heat through. Serve the bean mixture over the greens, topping with the cheese.

5. Mushroom parcel for Christmas • 1 tbsp olive oil • 1 onion, peeled, sliced • 1 garlic clove, peeled, crushed • 100g/3½oz butter • 500g/1lb 2oz chestnut mushrooms, sliced • 500g/1lb 2oz assorted wild mushrooms, sliced • Handful spinach • Salt and freshly ground black pepper • 350g/12oz blue goats’ cheese • 6 pieces puff pastry, 15cm/6in square, 3mm/½in thick • 1 free-range egg, beaten • 1 tbsp poppy seeds • Vegetable oil

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the onion and garlic for 10-15 minutes, or until softened and caramelized. Remove from the pan and set aside. Heat the butter in the same pan used to cook the onions until foaming. Fry the chestnut and wild mushrooms for 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain the mushrooms well and set aside to cool. Mix the cooked onions, mushrooms and spinach together in a bowl until the spinach has wilted. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place a piece of cheese into the middle of each piece of puff pastry, top with a spoonful of the mushroom mixture and roll up into parcels. Place the parcels onto a greased baking tray, brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle over the poppy seeds. Bake in the oven preheated at 200C/390F/Gas 6. for 20-25 minutes, or until golden-brown.

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