It’s easy to prepare a vegan holiday meal
This holiday season, we want to encourage you to respect our animal friends, and the planet, as you prepare your festive holiday meals. Of course, it’s always nice to celebrate tradition, but it can also be really fun and exciting to try something new, especially if it will diminish your carbon footprint! Not only will the animals thank you, but your guests will benefit from healthy alternatives to the traditional holiday dishes. As you most likely know, food and wine are obsessions in Italy, and naturally more so at this time of year. We gather with friends and family every chance we get to share meals and celebrate, and plan the next meal!
Vegan appetizers with vegan cheese
Beginning with the antipasti, instead of serving cheese, try cashew cheese, instead! You can buy it pre-made, or make it yourself at home. All you need are 150g of natural cashew nuts,
1 ½ tablespoon of food yeast, ½ lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of mustard, 1 pinch of salt, 1 pinch of garlic powder, 1 pinch of pepper, 30g of cranberries and 20g of pumpkin seeds.
Put the cashews soaked in hot water for 2 hours, then drain, and pour into the food processor adding the yeast, lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Blend everything well until you get a homogeneous mixture, transfer it into a bowl and add 20 g of very coarsely chopped cranberries. To shape the “cheese,” cover a low and wide bowl with a film and pour the cashew mixture over it. Press the edges together with the film and place it in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Once ready, remove it from the bowl and remove the film, then decorate the surface with the remaining cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Serve it on a tray or on a cutting board accompanying it with crackers and breadsticks. This lovely vegan appetizer will be appealing to all!
Vegan home made pasta with broccoli
For the first course, we suggest you stick to pasta. While traditionally in Italy the first course is a lasagna with meat sauce, it is simple to switch it up and make a vegan lasagna. We love this recipe for vegan lasagna with pumpkin and cime di rapa or broccoli. The bechamel sauce can be made with oat milk instead of dairy.
You will need 300g pasta without egg, 500g cime di rapa (or broccoli), 400g pumpkin, 1 garlic clove, 1 rosemary branch, and a pinch of cinnamon. For the bechamel sauce, you’ll need
500 ml unsweetened oat milk, 40g type 2 flour, 20g olive oil, 20g sunflower oil, 1 spoonful of yeast, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
First, make the bechamel.
Put the flour and two types of oil into a small pot and mix well with a wooden spoon over a small flame. Once the roux begins to form, add some warm oat milk as you continue to mix to avoid the formation of lumps. Continue to mix and let boil for two minutes. Turn off the heat and add salt, pepper, nutmeg and yeast.
Next, roast the pumpkin. Clean the pumpkin by removing fibers and seeds, remove the skin, and cut it into thin strips. Place it on a baking sheet with oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon and rosemary and bake for ten minutes at 200°C. While the pumpkin roasts, cook the broccoli or cime di rapa. Clean the stalks and cut it into pieces. Please it in lightly salted boiling water for a few minutes to blanch. Drain it, and then pan fry in some olive oil with garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
To assemble the lasagna, boil the pasta in salted water for three minutes, then drain and let rest on a tray. Cover the bottom of a pan with some of the bechamel, then a layer of pasta, more bechamel, and then a layer of pumpkin followed by a layer ofcime di rapa or broccoli. Proceed with another layer of pasta, pumpkin, andcime di rapa or broccoli, until all ingredients are in the pan. Finish with a layer of veggies covered in bechamel. Then, put the whole thing in the oven at 180°C for twenty minutes. Once the time is up, let rest ten minutes before serving.
Vegan secondo: spezzatino with seitan
If your guests are still hungry after the antipasto and primo, you can always prepare a spezzatino with seitan, instead of beef, and leave things traditional! Spezzatino is a traditional Italian beef stew, made with potatoes, peas and carrots, Substitute beef stock with veggie stock, and the beef with seitan to make this classic stew vegan-friendly! For dessert, keep it simple with fresh, seasonal fruit!
Be sure to accompany each course with a vegan wine. We suggest a bottle for every two guests. Look for wine bottles labeled “V OK”, meaning they don’t contain any animal products whatsoever.
We wish you and your loved ones the best this holiday season, and we hope you enjoy a cruelty-free meal with the help of these easy suggestions!