Alternative Christmas Meals

Article by Gary Clarke December 22, 2016

Christmas: the biggest food event of the year, where tables across the country groan under the weight of turkey, roast potatoes, pigs-in-blankets and sprouts. Every year we have the same traditional roast dinner, so here’s a few ideas to shake up this year’s Christmas meal.

Turkey and Cranberry Curry with Jewelled Rice (serves 8)

This recipe combines some festive staples with one of our favourite styles of cuisine and is perfect as your main Christmas meal, or even as something exciting to do with leftovers on Boxing Day.

To make this dish vegan/vegetarian friendly just replace the turkey with Quorn or tofu, the stock with vegetable stock and the butter with a vegan butter (we recommend Earth Balance if you can get it).

Note: when cooking with acidic foods such as cranberries, it is important to use a nonreactive pan (stainless steel or enamel coated). This will help to get the best results in both taste and appearance.


For the curry 

  • 3tsp olive oil
  • 2lb turkey, diced
  • 3tbsp mild or medium-hot curry powder
  • 2tsp butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/4tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 green chilli chopped and seeded
  • 350ml chicken/turkey stock
  • 235g dried cranberries
  • 175g fresh cranberries, chopped
  • 1tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • coriander to garnish, chopped
  • salt and pepper

For the rice


  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat.
  2. In batches, cook the turkey (sprinkled with curry powder) until it begins to brown.
  3. Add butter, mustard seeds and onion to the pan and cook until the onion begins to brown and the seeds pop.
  4. Return the turkey to the pan and add any remaining curry powder and cardamom. Stir until the turkey is coated with the spices.
  5. Cook for 1 minute, then add tomatoes, stock, dried and fresh cranberries, and ginger.
  6. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook, without a lid, whilst stirring occasionally until the mixture reduces slightly and the turkey is cooked (around 10-12 minutes).
  7. Wash and drain the rice in a sieve.
  8. Put 500ml of water into a pan with the salt, oil or butter, cardamom, and lemon peel. Bring to the boil and add rice, stir with a fork.
  9. Put the lid on the pan – a tea towel will also work – and turn the heat down. Cook until the liquid has been absorbed into the rice.
  10. Whilst the rice is cooking, heat oil in a separate frying pan and fry the onion until brown. Add the raisins, apricot and pistachios. Season to taste and fry until the nuts are lightly toasted.
  11. When the rice is cooked and all the water has been absorbed (and the bottom begins to crisp), take the pan off the heat, pour the saffron water over the rice and leave for 10 minutes.
  12. Transfer rice to serving dish and top with the nut mixture and mint.
  13. Garnish the curry with coriander and serve.



© Phil & Pam Gradwell. Original Via Flickr / Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike License


Brandied Mushroom and Butternut Squash Pie with Chestnut and Cranberry Stuffing (serves 4-6)

This pie is a delicious Christmas main for both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.


Chestnut Cranberry Stuffing

  • 75g dried cranberries
  • 75ml brandy
  • 5 banana shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 120g cashews, roasted and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1tbsp rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 2tbsp sage leaves, chopped
  • 1tbsp brown miso
  • 250g cooked chestnuts, ground
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 1/2 lemon, zest and juice
  • pinch of grated nutmeg
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 100g breadcrumbs

The Pie

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1/2 recipe chestnut cranberry stuffing (can be made in advance)
  • 2–3 Portobello mushrooms
  • 1tbsp brandy
  • 2tsp olive oil
  • 2tbsp chopped thyme leaves
  • 4 large leaves of kale
  • 200g spinach
  • grate of nutmeg
  • zest from ¼ lemon
  • drop of olive oil
  • 1 block puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt and pepper


Chestnut Cranberry Stuffing

  1. Simmer the cranberries and brandy in a saucepan over a low heat.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the shallots, salt and pepper. Cook until caramelised. Add the cashews, garlic, rosemary and sage, stir-fry for a few minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the brown miso and ground chestnuts.
  3. Take the brandy off the heat and stir the grated apple and cranberries. Season to taste with the lemon juice and zest, nutmeg and black pepper. Bind the mixture with the breadcrumbs.
  4. Roll into balls, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 180C.

The Pie

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  2. Roast the squash whole for 40 to 60 minutes depending on its size.
  3. Allow to cool slightly, then slice off the top to create a lid. Scoop out the seeds and sprinkle salt and pepper inside all over the flesh. Leave for a few minutes then cut into slices.
  4. Place mushrooms on a baking tray and drizzle with brandy and olive oil. Sprinkle on thyme, salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes.
  5. Wilt the kale and spinach. Drain well, squeezing out the excess juices. Flavour with salt, pepper, nutmeg, a little olive oil and lemon zest.
  6. Cut a third off of your pastry and put to one side. Roll out the remaining pastry and line a greased 25 cm pie pan with it. Layer the dish with the squash, greens, stuffing and mushrooms.
  7. Roll out the rest of your pastry and lay over the top to create your lid. Egg wash.
  8. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden. Cover with foil if the pastry is browning too quickly.
  9. Bring everything together and serve.

We hope these recipes provide you with a couple of great festive alternatives that differ from the traditional Christmas roast.


Feature Image: © Larry Hoffman. Original Via WikiMedia / Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike License

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