Vegans and vegetarians tend to get short-changed at Christmas, a season traditionally associated with mountains of meat, suet-stuffed puddings and lashings of cream. There’s nut roast, of course, but there are few other veggie dishes out there that feel properly Christmassy. So what’s a turkey-ducking festive reveller to do?
Turn to Demuths, of course. If anyone knows how to produce a plant-based seasonal showstopper with panache it’s the team at Rachel Demuth’s cookery school in the centre of Bath. They’ve just published this Christmas-pudding recipe on their website and it’s a flaming festive wonder. For from the customary sweet sphere of after-dinner stodge, this dish is the main savoury event – not only delicious to eat and laced with winter spices, but spectacular to look at too.
The pudding is at its best made at least a day in advance, chilled, and then reheated under a foil cover for 40 minutes at 170ºC. It freezes beautifully, too.
For the pudding:
100g puy lentils
75g raw buckwheat
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, grated
100g Shitake or chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp grated nutmeg
500ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp red or brown miso paste
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 tbsp tamari
100g gluten-free porridge oats
75g cashews, chopped roughly
Pinch of salt and pepper
For the brandy glaze:
2 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp water
100ml maple syrup
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp red or brown miso paste
Juice of ½ lemon
In a medium-sized saucepan, simmer the puy lentils in plenty of water for 20–25 minutes until tender but still holding their shape.
At the same time, in a small saucepan, simmer the raw buckwheat for 10–15 minutes until just tender, but still retaining some bite. Drain the lentils and buckwheat once cooked and leave in separate bowls to one side.
While the lentils and buckwheat are cooking, prepare the rest of the mixture. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan, and on a medium heat, fry the onion for 10 minutes until soft and translucent and just beginning to turn golden.
Add the garlic and grated carrot and cook for a few more minutes.
Add in the chopped mushrooms, ground allspice and grated nutmeg and fry for 5–10 minutes until the mushrooms have released their juices.
Pour in the vegetable stock, red or brown miso, tamari and thyme leaves. Bring to the boil and stir to make sure the miso is dissolved.
Mix in the cooked lentils and oats. Keep stirring over a gentle heat until the mixture is like very thick porridge. Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked buckwheat, chopped cashew nuts, and then taste and season with a little salt if necessary and plenty of black pepper.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC 180ºC fan/gas mark 6. Generously oil a large 1.5 litre pudding basin or round, oven-proof bowl. You could line it with baking parchment to ensure the pudding turns out perfectly.
Spoon the mixture into the pudding basin, cover with a piece of baking parchment, and scrunch some foil around the rim to seal. Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven, then remove the paper and foil and bake for another 20 minutes or until the top is brown and firm to touch.
Remove from the oven, recover with the foil. Allow to stand for 20 minutes to firm up before turning out onto a serving plate.
To serve, boil up the glaze ingredients for three to four minutes to reduce and thicken. Pour the hot glaze over the pudding just before serving. For a dramatic effect, you can set light to the brandy glaze at the last minute and serve a flaming savoury Christmas pudding centrepiece.