Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for a vegetarian Christmas (2024)

Making a meal focused on vegetables is a particular challenge at Christmas. The turkey (or some other similarly hefty fowl) refuses to vacate its traditional position as the absolute ruler of the holiday’s smörgåsbord, though, for me, that’s way more about style than any real substance. If we are honest, isn’t it the sheer size and golden splendour that make the turkey the perennial leader of the Christmas pack? It can’t be about complexity of flavour and succulence – or have I been missing something all these years?

So, this Christmas, I’ve decided to give the “turkey treatment” to my root vegetables, and put them on a pedestal, positioning them at the very centre of the table, all crowded proudly on a huge, shimmering platter. I just know they’ll come out on top, the newly crowned, undisputed rulers of the festive table.

Roast winter vegetable platter with walnut and barberry salsa

The barberries in the salsa provide the sort of bursts of surprise that I love in a festive dish. You can buy these sharp little dried Iranian berries in specialist shops or online; if you can’t find them, the same quantity of currants, soaked in a tablespoon of lemon juice, will do. Baby vegetables look great here, but again, don’t worry if you can get only regular-sized ones: just cut them all into long, 2-3cm-thick wedges instead. If you do have the baby vegetables, trim them so about 4cm of their stalks are left, for a rustic yet pretty look. Serves eight.

For the vegetables
500g baby parsnips, scrubbed clean
350g baby carrots, scrubbed clean
½ small pumpkin, halved, deseeded and cut into 4cm-wide wedges
2 red onions, peeled and quartered
400g baby turnips, scrubbed (cut in half lengthways if larger than 4cm)
400g baby beetroot, scrubbed (cut in half lengthways if larger than 4cm)
40g unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp maple syrup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

15 thyme sprigs
6 rosemary sprigs
4 sage sprigs
5 cinnamon sticks
8 star anise
For the salsa
60ml olive oil
1½ tbsp sherry vinegar
20g barberries (or currants soaked in lemon juice)
50g walnuts, roughly chopped
⅓ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp finely grated orange zest, plus 1 tbsp juice
1½ tsp maple syrup
10g parsley leaves, finely chopped
10g mint leaves, finely shredded

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put all the ingredients for the vegetables apart from the herbs and spices in a large bowl with one and three-quarter teaspoons of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix well, then transfer to two large oven trays lined with baking paper.

Roast for 20-25 minutes, until golden and almost cooked through. Divide the herbs between the trays and toss to combine, then roast for a final five minutes, until the veg are golden-brown and cooked, yet still crunchy. Set aside for a few minutes.

While the veg is roasting, make the salsa: just put everything in a medium bowl with a quarter-teaspoon of salt, mix to combine, then transfer to a deep serving bowl.

To serve, use metal tongs to pick out the hot vegetables from the tray and group them together on a large serving platter, leaving space for the salsa bowl in the centre or on one side. Tuck the herbs between the vegetables and scatter the spices on top (these are not to be eaten, but they look lovely), place the salsa bowl on the platter and serve.

Aubergine, courgette and yoghurt upside-down cake

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for a vegetarian Christmas (1)

One of the appeals of a big bird at Christmas is the sense of ceremony that accompanies its arrival at the table, and the subsequent ritual carving. Looking like a present, all wrapped up, this cake has a similar sense of occasion, as well as that essential festive “Ta-da!” moment when you cut it open to reveal its contents. Don’t worry if you can’t get marjoram; just double the oregano instead. Serves eight.

2 large courgettes, coarsely grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 aubergines, cut into 1.5cm-thick rounds
60ml olive oil, plus 2 tsp for brushing
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed
5g marjoram leaves, roughly chopped
5g oregano leaves, roughly chopped
50g pine nuts, toasted
300g Greek yoghurt
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
50g parmesan, finely grated
2 eggs, separated
50g fresh white breadcrumbs

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Line a 21cm cake tin with baking paper and brush with oil.

Mix the grated courgette with half a teaspoon of salt and put in a colander over a bowl or in the sink for 20 minutes. Transfer the salted courgette to the centre of a clean tea towel or J-cloth, draw up the sides, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Put the courgette (you should have about 200g-worth) in a bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the aubergine slices with two tablespoons of oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Spread out on two oven trays lined with baking paper and roast for 30 minutes, until golden-brown. Set aside to cool, then arrange the aubergine in a spiral in the base of the cake tin, so the slices overlap and cover the base.

Turn down the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a medium frying pan on a medium-high heat, then fry the onion for seven minutes, until soft and starting to turn golden-brown. Add the garlic and herbs, fry for a minute, until the herbs are aromatic and the garlic is starting to brown, then add to the courgette bowl. Add the pine nuts, yoghurt, lemon zest, parmesan, egg yolks, breadcrumbs, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper, then mix to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, then gently fold them into the courgette mix until just combined, then spoon on top of the aubergine in the cake tin. Bake for 45 minutes, until the cake is golden-brown, then set aside to cool down a bit.

Release the cake from its tin and invert on to a plate, so the aubergines are now sitting on top. Remove the baking paper, cut into individual portions and serve warm or at room temperature.

Black miso sticky rice with peanuts and brussels sprouts

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for a vegetarian Christmas (2)

Old ingredients in a new light. It’s great to shake up the Christmas sprouts with some Asian assistance. Frying them for just a few minutes means they retain the bite they so often lack when boiled and overcooked, and also helps keep that bright colour. Try to get hold of smaller Asian peanuts for this; failing that, just chop regular ones in half. Serves eight.

700g Thai black rice
160g white miso
90ml rice vinegar
90ml groundnut oil
6cm piece ginger, peeled and julienned
5 red chillies, deseeded and julienned
5 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
120g small peanuts, skin on (or regular peanuts chopped in half)
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1.2kg brussels sprouts, trimmed, cut in half lengthways (or quartered, if big)
½ tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp mirin
20g coriander leaves, roughly chopped
2 limes, halved

Put the rice in a large saucepan with 1.8 litres water, the miso, two-thirds of the vinegar and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer gently for an hour, until very little liquid is left. Shake the pan every once in a while to stop the rice from sticking to the base. Take the pan off the heat, cover and set aside for 10 minutes, until the rice is cooked but still retains a bit of a bite; by this time, any remaining liquid should have reduced to the consistency of thick jam.

Heat the groundnut oil in a large nonstick frying pan over a medium-high heat, then fry the ginger, chilli and garlic for two minutes, until the garlic goes translucent. Add the peanuts, fry for three minutes more, until everything is golden-brown and crisp, then transfer to a small plate with a slotted spoon (you want to keep the oil in the pan). Mix the sesame seeds and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt into the peanut mix.

Return the pan to a high heat, add the sprouts and half a teaspoon of salt, and fry for six to eight minutes, stirring often, until the sprouts are dark golden-brown and starting to go crisp. Remove from the heat and stir in the sesame oil, mirin and remaining rice vinegar.

To serve, spoon the rice into a large, shallow serving bowl and top with the sprouts. Sprinkle over the coriander and squeeze over the lime juice, top with the crisp chilli and peanuts, and take to the table.

Roast parsnips and jerusalem artichokes with cavolo nero and stilton

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for a vegetarian Christmas (3)

Cavolo nero can vary hugely from bunch to bunch in terms of how much stalk to leaf you get. If yours has an enormous stalk, buy more to get the 110g leaves you’ll need for this. And if you start with more leaf to stalk, you’ll obviously need less to start off with. Serves eight, as a side dish.

6 parsnips, peeled, trimmed and cut into 7cm-long and 2cm-wide wedges
3 red onions, peeled and cut into 3cm-wide wedges
60ml olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
5g picked thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
700g jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into 3cm-wide wedges
220g cavolo nero, stalks removed and discarded (or saved for something else – they’re great parboiled, then put in a gratin), to leave 110g leaves, cut into 4cm-wide slices
80g stilton, roughly crumbled into 1cm pieces

For the dressing
115g pickled walnuts, roughly chopped, plus 3 tbsp pickling liquor
60g walnuts, roughly chopped
15g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the parsnips and onions in a medium bowl with two tablespoons of oil, two garlic cloves, the thyme, half a teaspoon of salt and lots of pepper. Spread out on a large oven tray lined with greaseproof paper. Put the artichokes on a separate lined tray, mixed with a tablespoon of oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper. Roast both trays for 20 minutes, until the parsnips and onions are cooked and caramelised, and the artichokes are just cooked through, then tip both into a large bowl and keep warm.

Mix the dressing ingredients with a third of a teaspoon of salt and set aside until required.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, add the cavolo nero and blanch for two minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water and pat dry.

Put the final tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan on a high heat, then fry the remaining garlic clove until just starting to brown; about 30 seconds. Add the cavolo nero and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt, and fry for four to five minutes, stirring often, until it starts to brown. Add to the veg bowl and, just before serving, gently mix in the dressing. Spread out on a large platter, sprinkle over the stilton and take to the table.

What to drink, by Fiona Beckett

Roast root veg I’d go off-piste with this and serve the rare, exotic Mavrotragano 2011 (£24 The Wine Society; 14% abv), from Hatzidakis in Santorini, with its wild berry flavours. Or a good cru Beaujolais.

Aubergine and courgette upside-down cake A smooth white such as a soave would work really well here: try the very well-priced Fattori Soave 2014 (12.5% abv), which is on offer at £7.19 at Majestic when you buy any six bottles.

Black miso sticky rice Australian Clare Valley riesling works brilliantly with Asian flavours, and Aldi has a particularly good-value example in its Exquisite Collection series (2014 vintage, £6.99; 12% abv).

Roast parsnips and jerusalem artichokes This is a toss-up between a full-flavoured white such as the lush Tons Duorum Douro 2014 (£8.50 Tanners; 12.5% abv) or a brambly, southern Italian red such as A Mano Primitivo 2013 (£7.95 Hawkshead Wines and slurp.co.uk, £8.99 Booths; 13.5% abv), from Puglia.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for a vegetarian Christmas (2024)


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