Last Christmas was my first with no meat. No dairy. No eggs. And no gluten. So, just a plate of plain boiled potatoes and brussel sprouts for me then, yeah?
Eh, not likely.
I am a massive, massive, massive foodie, and there was absolutely no way I was going to skimp on Christmas dinner just because I wasn’t joining in on the roast turkey and pork stuffing balls with everyone else.
Commence veggie recipe-testing!
Christmas dinner is special. I wanted a bold centrepiece that I wouldn’t go to the effort to make on a normal weeknight. No tofu, no Quorn, no beans or lentils. These are all ingredients I cook with regularly. So, just like most folks don’t have turkey every Sunday night, I didn’t want to make something I would whip up ordinarily.
The market for ready-made vegan Christmas foods is massive these days. All the supermarkets and major vegetarian brands are competing against each other to win you over with their meat centrepiece replacements. Mock turkey, mock beef, mock sausage – you name it.
Loads of these products have that extra oumph, but most of them contain gluten. At a Christmas dinner with 3 coeliacs, I wanted to keep the cross contamination risk to zero, so no shop-bought pastry or seitan-based goodies are allowed!
Every time I searched for “Christmas vegan recipes”, vegetarian wellington consistently came up. We’re totally spoilt for variations! The beauty of veggie food is that you can pack recipes full of loads of flavours and textures – so go on and stuff it with mushrooms, butternut squash, sweet potato, and lentils, whatever you fancy. Mix up the herbs and spices! But with a plain old beef wellington, what have you got? Beef. Pastry. Maybe some mushrooms. Booooring.
What’s more is the meat is so filling, that you have to be tactical to be able to ram enough roast potatoes in your gob. This wellington definitely satisfies that stuffed-full-Christmassy-feeling you’re going for, but you’ll not feel sluggish for hours after Christmas dinner. Bring on the pudding!
For my vegetable wellington, I wanted something a bit meatier than mushrooms and lentils. I found a recipe online which used defrosted Linda McCartney quarter pounder burgers, but they’re not gluten-free, so I’ve done a little bit of tweaking. Linda McCartney red pepper and chorizo sausages work well here, but if you want something with a more neutral flavour, their Licolnshire sausages are good, as are Morrisons Meat Free sausages, and Sainsbury’s Shroomdogs without their casing.
Pastry-wise, doing gluten-free and vegan is easy. Jus rol have cracked the code and created fantastic ready rolled gluten-free, vegan puff pastry sheets. I’ve tried a few different gluten-free pastry products and this one is by far the best. It’s kept in the chilled section of loads of supermarkets, like Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, and Waitrose and it costs £2 a pack, which should do 4 servings nicely.
Whenever I’ve made this vegan wellington for other people, they’ve not been able to tell that’s it not real meat. The veggie sausages have that firm bite that you expect from meat (and not from lentils). The pastry is a beautiful golden brown and is perfectly crispy when you cut into it. This vegetarian wellington is bursting with flavour, the ideal gluten-free and vegan Christmas dinner centrepiece.
Just picture the spread after a day of slaving away over a hot stove and steamy oven (minus the worries of undercooking meat). This vegetarian wellington is right at the centre of the table. Some vegetarian Christmas stuffing balls to the side. Peas, carrots, broccoli, and brussel sprouts dotted around. Roast potatoes within eyesight. And vegetarian gravy to drench it all in.
And just when you think you’ve had enough, out comes the pudding. Maybe you’re a fan of the traditional Christmas pudding. Or is a sticky toffee pudding a firm favourite in your house? Does trifle or a yule log hit the spot best? Ugh, I’m drooling just thinking about it.
Christmas is rolling around the corner soon and this vegetarian wellington is a showstopper for you and all of your veggie guests, completely free from gluten, so everyone is happy, no compromises! Now pass the roast potatoes, cranberry sauce, and that thick, savoury vegetarian gravy, please.
- 1x pack of defrosted 6 gluten-free and vegan sausages
- 1x medium white onion or 2x shallots, finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 500g mushrooms of your choice (button and chestnut are best), finely chopped
- 1 tbsp vegetable/olive oil
- ½ tsp dried rosemary
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried sage
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 pack of gluten-free vegan puff pastry sheets (Jus Rol is best)
- 2 tbsp of unsweetened non-dairy milk (preferably soy or almond) or 1 egg, beaten (not vegan)
- Fully defrost a pack of vegetarian sausages overnight. I've had good success with Linda McCartney red pepper and chorizo/Lincolnshire, Morrison's own meat free sausages, and Sainsbury's Shroomdogs without their casings. You can let them defrost naturally or speed it up in the microwave with your defrost setting, taking out a mashing every minute.
- When your sausages are defrosted, finely chop your white onion or shallots, 2 cloves of garlic and 500g mushrooms. For ease, you can use a food processor to chop the onions and mushrooms up.
- Heat a frying pan on medium heat with your vegetable or olive oil. Fry off your onions/shallots for around 7 minutes until translucent. Add in your minced garlic cloves and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Chuck in your chopped mushrooms and saute. Mushrooms release a lot of moisture and you want to keep the stuffing mixture fairly dry so it doesn't make your pastry soggy.
- Add in your dried herbs and season the mushroom mixture generously with salt and black pepper. Combine everything and continue cooking until all of the liquid released from the mushrooms is soaked up. If you're struggling, you can carefully drain it off or add a couple of tablespoons gluten-free breadcrumbs if you have any on hand.
- Time for a little patience! Take your mushroom mixture off of the heat and leave to cool completely, around 1 hour. After 30 minutes of waiting, remove your puff pastry sheet from the fridge. This will bring it to temperature to make it easier to handle.
- When your filling has cooled, take your defrosted vegan sausages and mash them up in a large bowl with your hands or a wooden spoon. Combine it with your mushroom mixture.
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.
- Carefully spoon your mixture down the centre of the sheet, leaving around an inch and a half at the ends and sides for sealing. Don't try and use up all your mixture if it doesn't fit. You can reserve it to cook up later or freeze it.
- In a small mug or ramekin, beat an egg or pour a couple of tablespoons of soy milk. With a pastry brush or a teaspoon, brush the interior edges with the beaten egg or soy milk. Fold over the sides and edges and close the wellington. Brush the exterior with the remaining egg wash or soy milk. This will help it get nice and golden as it cooks.
- Pop your wellington onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or baking parchment paper (maybe with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme for decoration). Score the top of the wellington with a sharp knife so that steam can release and then pop it in the oven for around 30 minutes.
- When you remove it from the oven, leave for 10 minutes, take it off the baking tray and then cut into it with a serrated bread knife.
Nutritional information based on Morrisons meat free sausages but stats should not vary much depending on your chosen meat replacement.