How I put together my veg-forward Christmas menu

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How I put together my veg-forward Christmas menu

I put this menu together out of empathy for all my meat-free people who are preparing to be side-lined at braais again this festive. I believe that meat isn’t all there is (why are you booing me?) and there’s so much fun to be had with veggies. Bring any one of these dishes to your next gathering and I guarantee it’ll be the first dish to disappear off the table.

The Christmas issue is always one of the grandest of the whole year, and this one is no different. I know we say it all the time, but this is legitimately our biggest issue yet! With a staggering 82 recipes (a few more than our 79 last year), we’ve covered pretty much everything.

ALSO READ: Get festive with the Nov/Dec issue of TASTE!

This year, my strategy is to keep it as simple as possible and be bold. I’m committed to going wherever the freshest ingredients are, doing less to the food, and cooking food that’s as easy to eat as it is to prepare. I also want to try out some of my fave combos: plantain, mango and soft cheese, or jerk spices, tofu, mint and peas. Oh, and I’m working on being a better host. And the best hosts are present hosts. So this year, I’m cooking dishes that have me out of the kitchen and at the table with my peeps in no time.

A tip: Make a shopping list and stick to it! Also, make all your salad dressings, pickles, sauces the day before and store them in marked containers. These little preparations take up more time than you think, so you’d do best to prep them and get them out of the way. Also, marinate your vegetables. Overnight, even, so that all you have to do is toss them in the oven or the air-fryer the next day. It also takes some of the hosting stress away to set the table the night before.

French 75 punch

Breaking down the veg-forward Christmas menu

Get the party started right with my French 75 punch bowl with a giant floral ice cube – find the recipe right here on web. That ice wreath can be frozen a day ahead, too.

For that snacky feeling before lunch, which, for me, starts at around 11 am (brunch-time), throw together my cheese snacking wreath made with dairy-free cheese, which some might argue is as good as the real thing, paired with all that good summer fruit, crackers, olives and whatever preserves you have on hand. That should take no more than 20 minutes.

One of the salads integral to any special occasion is without a doubt the potato salad. My smashed roast potato salad with devilled egg dressing kicks salad butt, the dressing is essentially herbed devilled eggs – it’s delicious. A fave from this story is my Wellington, the perfect dinner centrepiece, made with Beyond meat, spinach, mushroom duxelles and flaky, buttery puff pastry. It doesn’t hurt that it looks good, too.

There can be no party without bread, and my cheese-and-atchar dinner rolls are what you want to use to mop up all those good sauces. A favourite among the TASTE team is my corn and coconut milk bake, it’s just a cool way to prepare mielies and they’re so sweet, fragrant and saucy that you’d be happy to have them by themselves on a plate!

Dairy-free cheese platter

Find more festive recipes at our Christmas hub here.

Khanya’s pudding picks and edible gifts

There aren’t any puds on my plant-based menu, but there are plenty in this issue that I’m looking to try at home this festive season. If you’re looking to cook the cover, you can find Abi’s red jelly, poached nectarine and pavlova trifle crowned with giant cornflake clusters on page 82. Always something innovative and worth talking about on an Abi menu! Also, there’s something about dressing up fancy to eat cereal off the good china. If you have a little less time to whip up dessert – or no time at all – make Sam Woulidge’s quick four-ingredient condensed milk cake, a dessert that everyone will love – it’s topped with massive dollops of Caramel Treat and whipped cream. It’s unreasonably good. Phillippa Cheifitz’s slow-roasted strawberries with buttermilk panna cotta are equal parts dreamy-looking, delicious and easy; all the things you want in a dessert.

I also assembled an edible gift guide on page 164 – I love a gift that I can eat, and the ones I have on this list are all good enough to consume right out of the jar. My personal picks (and the easiest ones to make) are the braaied mielie atchar, the pickled braaied mushrooms and, obviously, my orange panettone granola (all p 168). The green giardiniera recipe (p 170) came about when I harvested peas and celery in my garden and wanted to do something delicious to them, and this sour, spicy, crunchy and sweet preparation won me over.

Find more Christmas dessert recipes here. 

I have a good feeling about this coming festive season, we’re all recovering from a pretty challenging year and I think we all deserve to lounge around in our stretchy pants and enjoy a constant flow of never-ending snackage. Whether you’re hosting family, having yourself a friendsmas or flying solo, you owe it to yourself to make it as gorgeous a time as ever, and to eat well. Pick up the festive issue of TASTE and be inspired to make this one the most magical yet!

Khanya Mzongwana Article by: Khanya Mzongwana

If you're anything like our deputy food editor Khanya Mzongwana, you're obsessed with uniqueness and food with feeling. Cook her family-tested favourites, midweek winners and her mouth-wateringly fresh takes on plant-based eating.

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