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The perfect vegetarian Christmas

Emily Urquhart makes a case for veggie haggis and shares her perfect gravy recipe.

British Christmas dinners tend to be quite meat heavy, and can cause a lot of tension for vegetarian family members as the festive season rolls around. The discovery of the Macsween Veggie Haggis (which is in fact vegan) has entirely revolutionised my experience of roast dinners. A source of consistent deliciousness, a veggie haggis leaves nut roasts in its wake. Made primarily of oats, seeds, kidney beans, carrots, onions and lentils, a veggie haggis is free from any unmentionable cuts of meat which understandably put people off traditional haggis.

Waitrose seems to be the only shop that consistently stocks veggie haggis, but don’t be put off by a reputation for bougie prices; a Macsween Haggis usually costs less than £4 and can feed three to four people. As a vegetarian roast it seems almost insulting to refer to the veggie haggis as merely an ‘alternative’ to traditional meats. The veggie haggis should indeed gain a position as a roasted staple around the British dinner table; cheap, healthy, easy to cook and universally delectable. 

Paired with a caramelised onion gravy, roasted potatoes and veg I find myself free of a yearning for tender turkey or pigs in blankets at Christmas time. Haggises (haggi?…) can be cooked easily in the oven and even microwaved, making it a cheap and easy option for plant-based roasts. 

Gravy at the Christmas dinner table is, of course, absolutely vital. Since becoming a vegetarian I have made it my mission to perfect a vegetarian gravy. Though I firmly believe that no two gravies should be the same, below I’ve laid out how I usually throw together a gravy in what can loosely be described as a recipe. 

Emily’s Idiosyncrasy Gravy

Ingredients – don’t worry if you don’t have some of these things, gravies can be somewhat made up as you go along!

  • Onions (1 or 2, finely chopped) 
  • Mushrooms (a large handful, finely chopped) 
  • Sugar
  • Butter
  • Veggie gravy granules
  • Marmite
  • Garlic 
  • Salt
  • Ketchup 
  • Wine 

Method

  1. Soften the onions and mushrooms in the pan with some butter and a little sugar.
  2. Mix a couple of teaspoons of gravy granules with some boiling water (I find a big mug is good to do this in) and add in a teaspoon of marmite, pour this in with the caramelised mushrooms and onions.
  3. Add in crushed garlic/garlic powder/garlic paste and season with salt and pepper. 
  4. Add in a little ketchup and some wine (red, white or even pink works!) and leave to boil for a while.
  5. You can use a hand blender to make the gravy smooth and add in more granules/water mixture if the gravy needs to be thicker.
  6. Other tasty things that can go into gravy include mustard seeds, fruit jam, vegetable water – basically whatever yummy bits are laying around the kitchen!

I’d always recommend making large amounts of gravy, not only because it’s completely scrumptious, but also because it is the perfect condiment to Boxing Day haggis potato cakes. Mash up any leftover potato and mix with any veggie haggis you didn’t scoff on Christmas day, add an egg if needed to bind the mixture together and shape into little potato cakes. While you fry the haggis cakes some of the seeds and lentils can pop and jump in the pan like tiny pieces of popcorn. 

Emily’s favourite veggie Christmas dinner

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