Christmas dinner can be a little tricky if you are vegetarian. Sure, you’ve got all the veg, bread sauce, Yorkshire puds and vegetarian stuffing if you like it, but unless you are splashing out on a nut roast, there isn’t a lot to make up a ‘main meal’. As a vegetarian – not just a vegetarian, but a fussy vegetarian who needs a balanced meal with all the groups for health reasons – Christmas dinner can be a pain when it comes to protein. I don’t like bread sauce, Yorkshire puds, stuffing or nut roast, so I’m basically doomed. This year, as I was catering for two vegetarians, I thought it was time to try a new recipe. I still had three pumpkins from the veg patch and I thought it was perfect for xmas dinner – I know they are traditionally linked with Thanksgiving, but in the UK we didn’t have it a month earlier so we could afford to use the pumpkin again!
I needed something quick and simple, with some protein in. I opted for cheese. As pumpkin is, well, bland, I also decided to throw some garlic in there too.
It is really basic and can be made in advance of the big day so it doesn’t take up space in the kitchen. Of course, you could make this any time of the year too 😉
Pumpkin, Cheese and Garlic Bake
-1 large pumpkin -Olive oil, for drizzling -260g cheddar cheese -20g Swiss gruye -2 garlic cloves
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Cut the pumpkin and remove the seeds. Cut the pumpkin into large slices and place on baking trays. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until golden and cooked. Allow to cool completely.
- Cut the pumpkin up into small cubes and place in an oven-proof dish.
- Grate the cheese and dice the garlic up into small pieces. Mix together and then sprinkle it over the top of the pumpkin.
- Preheat the grill to high and heat the bake until the cheese has melted at the top is golden – it should only take a minute or two so keep an eye on it. Or, preheat the oven to 200C and bake for approximately 10-20 minutes, or until the top is golden and the cheese has melted.
- Serve. Store in the fridge when cold.
It is a universal fact that cheese and courgette go well together. Well, it is a universal fact concerning this blog.
I had the crazy but actually good idea of jazzing up the ordinary cheese on toast – what about adding courgette too?
I was a little bit hesitant, seeing as I was going to be eating it, but it was actually good. I had no need to fear, and I survived it!
It made a change to just simple cheese and bread and is another way of using up a courgette if you are having a glut.
Courgette and Cheese on Toast
-2 slices of bread of choice -200g cheddar cheese (or enough for 2 people) -1 medium sized courgette
- Preheat the grill to a high temperature. Place the two slices of bread underneath it and toast 1 side.
- Slice or grate the cheese. Cut the courgette lengthways in half. Cut each strip in half again and cut the lengths into cubes, 1/2 a courgette per person.
- On the side of the bread that has not been toasted, spread the cheese over the surface. Spread the cubes of courgette over the top of the cheese.
- Place the bread back under the grill and toast until the cheese is bubbling and melted. Serve with a side salad.
So I didn’t get a lot planted this year because I was away from home for a couple of months, but we did get the potatoes in and the beans are being harvested now – last year’s beans!
We left our bean roots in the ground rather than dig them up by accident three years ago. We grew other things in the same trench over the winter so it was heavily guarded with double portions of horticultural fleece that protected it from the frost. We were in awe when the next spring, our old beans grew back. Since then, we have tried to protect all of our bean roots that we leave in the ground. This year we have a few that have re-grown for their third harvest, we have more that our on their second, and my mum managed to sow a few extra this year in another trench while I was absent.
I have been enjoying delicious beans boiled for dinner almost daily for a week now. I had to of course have them as part of my favourite dinner of all time – Baked Potato, Cheddar Cheese, Baked Beans and Runner Beans.
Preheat your oven to 200C. Cut out slug damage (if homegrown potatoes) or prick holes in the potato, to let the steam escape while cooking. Bake the potato in the oven for an hour, I like to leave mine in for another half an hour so that the skin is really crispy.
Boil a pan of water and add the sliced runner beans, turning the hob down to a low flame. Remove from the heat after about 8 minutes, drain.
Heat the baked beans in a pan over a medium flame. Remove from the heat once hot.
Grate enough cheddar cheese to serve.
Remove your potato from the oven, cut in half and mash a generous amount of butter into each part. Add the runner beans and the baked beans to the side and sprinkle cheddar cheese over the top of the potato and butter.
Mashed Potato, Cheese and Tomato Bake
For the topping: – 2 large potatoes – 50g butter – A dash of milk or cream – 100g grated cheddar cheese
For the filling: – 2 large tomatoes – 1/2 onion, finely sliced – 1 large garlic clove, finely diced – Butter, for frying
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Scrub the potatoes and cut them into chunks to boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and leave until the potatoes are cooked through. To test they are done, stick a fork in the middle of a cube – if it slips off the fork without any persuasion easily, then it is cooked. Drain the water into a separate pan for the tomatoes. Put the butter and a dash of milk or cream into the pan and mash. Set aside until ready.
- Bring the old potato water to a rolling boil. Dunk the tomatoes, whole, into the pan for a couple of minutes until the skins are ready to peel off. Place them in a bowl and allow to cool before cutting into small pieces.
- In a frying pan, melt the butter and fry the onion until golden brown. Add the diced garlic and fry for a couple of minutes.
- Put the tomatoes into an ovenproof dish. Scrape the onion and garlic and butter over the top. Cover in mashed potato as the topping followed by the grated cheddar cheese.
- Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve with lots of vegetables, like peas, runner beans, broad beans, carrots, cabbage, kale, sweetcorn, broccoli, cauliflower, courgettes etc.