You know the feeling. You go to a restaurant or someone’s house, and there’s an item on the menu that you can’t/won’t eat. Then, when your plate arrives, it’s the same as everyone else’s minus X, Y, Z component, with no alternative.
Christmas dinner (or just your general roast dinner) should be super simple for coeliacs. But it’s not-so-simple if you are a coeliac vegetarian or vegan. Oh, don’t you just love a plate of steamed veg and plain boiled potaotes with no gravy, stuffing, or meat alternative? Mmm, delicious.
And so these vegetarian Christmas stuffing balls were born.
In Michael’s house, they always buy in this gluten-free pork sausage stuffing from Marks and Spencers. It was really nice, but I stopped eating pork over a year ago. I spent Christmas day with them for the first time last year and I brought loads of my own vegan alternatives (which were all safely gluten-free too for sharing!). This vegetarian stuffing was a real hit, especially with Michael’s dad, who opted for them completely over the pork!
I haven’t tried many premade stuffings or stuffing mixes. My mum always makes her own, but I have tried the Tesco Free From sage and onion stuffing and I did not like it. It was incredibly salty, to the point that I was struggling to eat it. These are perfectly balanced in flavour and don’t need a ton of salt to make them edible.
I’m not normally a massive fan of dried fruit, but I had dried cranberries kicking around my cupboard and I fancied something with a hint of sweetness on my Christmas day dinner. They add a really lovely subtle sweetness that brings out the natural sugars in the nuts too.
These nut and cranberry stuffing balls are based off of this Waitrose recipe. I have gluten-free-ified and veganised it, and also made it more accessible to those who find it difficult to find chestnuts in their local supermarkets! I have hunted high and low around Glasgow and they are so elusive!
I love these stuffing balls because they are slightly crispy on the outside and deliciously moist on the inside, with a good crunch from the crushed up mixed nuts. They are just screaming out to be doused in some gluten-free vegetarian gravy!
You could incorporate these into your weekly Sunday roast or simply have them for a treat at your family Christmas Day or Hogmanay (New Year to non-Scots!) gatherings. I have prepped these in advance and frozen them, ready to thaw and whack in the oven for Christmas in a few weeks time.
Even if you aren’t vegetarian or vegan, these are a lovely (slightly lighter) addition to your Christmas spread, which will probably already be meat and dairy-heavy. Set aside some time at the weekend or an evening to prep these beauties and you’ve already eased the pressure of cooking on Christmas Day!
If you are going plant-based this Christmas, or you have a dinner guest who is, these stuffing balls would be the perfect accompaniment to my gluten-free vegetarian wellington!
Let me know if you try these out! If you have any other family favourite gluten-free and veggie stuffing recipes, I’d love to know so I can trial them out myself too.
- 2 flax eggs (made with 2 tbsp ground flaxseed and 5 tbsp water)
- 400g mixed nuts (I used cashew, walnuts, and pecans)
- 2 tbsp dairy-free butter (or vegetable oil)
- 2 medium onions, finely diced
- 2-4 stalks of celery, finely diced
- 2 tsp dried parsley
- 2 tsp dried rosemary
- 2 tsp dried sage
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 300g gluten-free breadcrumbs (check the bread is vegan if needed)
- 100g dried cranberries
- Water as needed (I used around 12 tbsp)
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
- In a dry pan on a medium high heat, add all the nuts until they become toasted on the outside.
- Make your flax eggs by mixing the flaxseed with the water in a small bowl or mug.
- Break up the nuts into small chunks (not quite a powder but not too big that they'll poke out the stuffing balls). You can do this in a food processor by pulsing it or bash in a bag/tea towel with a rolling pin.
- In the same pan, melt the dairy-free butter and fry off the onion and celery on medium-high until softened. Add the herbs and spices and thoroughly combine. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, add the breadcrumbs, nuts, and dried cranberries. Mix together. Then add the onion and celery mixture and your flax egg.
- The mixture should be quite dense and might still be a bit dry. Add in extra water a tablespoon at a time until it is firm yet moist enough to form into balls.
- Set aside 2 baking sheets (lined if you wish). Scoop a tablespoon of the mixture at a time and, with wet hands, roll it into a ball. Place on the baking sheet. You should get around 32 balls out of the mixture.
- When you've scooped all of the mixture into balls, pop it in the oven for 18-20 minutes until slightly crispy on the outside but moist and cooked through on the inside.