Summer Christmas time here in New Zealand is all about relaxing outside with friends and family with delicious food and drink. My aim for The Veggie Tree Christmas food is to make life simple and use the best of what we have at our fingertips. For me this means having food that won’t take ages to do on the day and even better, can be made in advance. The potatoes will have to be prepared just before cooking them though, or they will go brown. There is an easy way to prepare Hasselback potatoes; just place a wooden spoon alongside each potato to ensure you don’t cut too far through. The quinoa stuffing can be made two days in advance and the vegetables can be stuffed the day before.
This recipe is from Anna Valentine’s The Veggie Tree cookbook.
Vegan | Gluten-free Serves 4
Gather your ingredients:
1 aubergine, cut into large dice
1 tsp salt
Put the diced aubergine into a colander and shake them while adding the salt. Place in the sink while preparing the following ingredients:
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
400g tomatoes, canned, passata or grated
1/4 c olives, pitted and sliced
1 sweetcorn cob, kernels only
In a medium pan heat:
1/4 c olive oil
Add the prepared onion and fry for two minutes. Dry the aubergine in a tea towel, then add to the pan along with the garlic. Fry for four minutes, then add:
1 c quinoa
1 T dried oregano or 4 sprigs fresh
2 bay leaves
Stir in the tomato, olives and cover. Simmer for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the sweetcorn kernels and:
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
Stir in and cook for a further two minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables for stuffing:
4-6 capsicum, tops cut off and reserved, but seeds scooped out
1 marrow, sliced into 3cm thick slices with seeds removed
4-6 tomatoes, tops cut off (preferably with the stalks intact) and reserved, but seeds scooped out
4-6 potatoes, scrubbed and sliced halfway through at 3mm intervals
Oil a roasting tray. Stuff the capsicums, marrow pieces and tomatoes with the quinoa mixture. Put the tops back on the capsicums and tomatoes and arrange in the roasting tray with the prepared potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and cracked black pepper and bake for one hour until the capsicums are cooked and starting to slump.
For the topping melt in a frying pan on a medium heat:
2 T butter or olive oil
4 sprigs fresh sage, leaves only
Gently fry the leaves until crispy and remove with tongs or slotted spoon to a wooden bowl or paper towel.
Then toast until golden:
1/4 c almonds
Scatter the almonds over the top of the cooked vegetables. Add the crisp sage leaves and:
200g feta cheese, crumbled (it’s easy to make tasty dairy-free feta cheese)
Serve with steamed snow peas or beans and Mung Basil Pesto.
Mung Basil Pesto
Pesto is great with tomato and Italian flavours, and also makes a tasty dip or cracker topping especially this version with the added fennel or mung beans. I have also added a few different options for the nut element as they all work well together and it’s nice to have options. Other greens that work well as a pesto are coriander, silverbeet and carrot tops.
Vegan | Gluten-free
The easiest way to make this is in a food processor. If you don’t have one you could use a mortar and pestle or just chop everything up as fine as you can, then mix together well. If you are using a food processor, start with:
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 c macadamia, cashew or 2 T pine nuts
1/2 c mung bean sprouts or 1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped
Whizz these together until roughly chopped. Then add:
3 c basil leaves, loosely packed
1/4 c parmesan, finely grated (try Angel Food’s dairy-free parmesan)
125ml extra virgin olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Whizz again, scraping down the edges as necessary. Blitz again until finely chopped. Store in a jar in the fridge. I find covering the jar with tin foil to stop the light getting in helps keep it from going brown on the top and always keep a layer of olive oil on top as this also helps it to stay fresh.