The Vegan Christmas Table: What to cook & how to wow everyone

Christmas is about the food. Let’s not lie to ourselves. Okay, and also about family – but hear me out.
Something that struck me when reading “Eating Animals” by Michael Pollan a few years ago, was his passages on food and traditions. One of the big trips ups for most plant-based people is the holiday season.

We all have such strong memories of Christmas lunch or dinner. Time spent around the table with friends and family. Memories and moments created around the sharing of food. That’s why I say it’s all about food. Food is the glue that brings us all together. One of the main questions I’m asked around this time of year is what to eat if you’re vegan – or even just vegetarian. Christmas is very “meat-centric” in most households. In South Africa, we have a strong tradition of braaing on the day. The Summer weather doesn’t fit with standing in front of an oven or stove for hours and I remember most Christmas Days spent in a pool or eating my weight in watermelon – waving off warnings that I’d be too full for lunch. Who cares when you’re growing freckles and having pip spitting contests?

My Christmas Day used to be gammon and roast beef and creamy potato salad and this salad that my Nana used to make that consisted of butter lettuce, cucumber, pineapple and tomato. That salad is something of a family joke now (and of course nothing like this salad), but I’m sure it’ll be on our Christmas table this year. With the idea of family time spent sharing food, our goal this year was to draw it out for as long as possible. This meal is not one which will take days to prepare, but you could definitely make components ahead. It’s not a meal in which you’re likely to eat too much of one thing – with the spread coming in stages and with various smaller plates. This is how I prefer to eat. Consistent, diligent grazing.

To be honest, I haven’t always been a Christmas person and actually only bought my first tree this week. It’s only as high as my knee but I lovingly twirled the lights around its branches and sat back proudly when I flicked the switch. It’s just a warm and fuzzy feeling, I guess. I realise now though, that this might be in part because I’ve never been a big meat person. When I was younger, I can remember wanting to eat the same way my other granny did – she was a vegetarian all her life. I never had an affinity to eat anything other than fruits and vegetables. Dream kid, right? For me then, Christmas was more about the creamy potato salad and the trimmings – not so much the centrepiece.

Our hope was to create a Christmas spread so varied and delicious, that it could sit proudly beside any Christmas meal memories you may have. A meal that you didn’t leave feeling like you;d missed out on the main event or like you were lacking in the gravy of your memories, so to speak. We hope that these recipes – from a Gin Fizz to dessert and everything in between – help you to build new memories, new food traditions in your homes. There’s no reason why our families shouldn’t incorporate traditions that hold true to the beliefs we have every other day of the year, and there’s nothing to say that those new memories can’t be as beautiful and twinkly as the ones from your own childhood.

Have a safe and special festive season


Salty and Sweet Holiday Mix
Course: Snack
Servings: 8 cups
Author: Give a Fork
  • 4 cups Mixed Raw Nuts we used a combination of cashew, almond, macadamia and brazil
  • 2 cups Pretzels
  • 2 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 2 tbsp Tamari Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2-4 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celcius and line a large baking tray with baking paper.

  2. Combine your nuts and spread them evenly in a single layer on your prepared tray. Once your oven is preheated, roast for 15-20 minutes or until golden and fragrant.

  3. In a small bowl combine your coconut oil, tamari sauce, maple syrup and spices. Once your nuts have roasted drizzle the maple mix over the nuts and toss to evenly coat. 

  4. Return to the oven and roast for a further 10-15 minutes.

  5. Serve warm or cool completely and serve as a snack.

Recipe Notes

Can be stored in an airtight container for 2 weeks. Perfect to make ahead and serve on the day.

Maple and Sage Gin Fizz
Course: Drinks
Servings: 4
Author: Give a Fork
  • 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  • 180 ml Gin
  • 800 ml Soda Water
  • 1 large Handful Fresh Sage
  • Pink Peppercorns roughly smashed
  • Ice
  1. Add sufficient ice to 4 glass. Add a tablespoon of maple syrup to each glass and top with 200ml soda water in each glass. 

  2. Clap the sage leaves between your hands and add to your gin fizz along with extra peppercorns.

  3. Enjoy as a welcome drink, or make a large jug and enjoy throughout the afternoon.

Roast Potatoes with Garlic and Herbs
Course: Side Dish
Servings: 4
Author: Give a Fork
  • 500 grams Baby Potatoes halved
  • 3 cloves Garlic finely diced
  • 1 Onion chopped
  • 3 sprigs Thyme stems removed
  • 1 sprig Rosemary leaves diced
  • 1/4 cup Parsley finely chopped
  • 1 Lemon zested
  • 30 ml Olive Oil
  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celcius and line a large baking tray with baking paper.

  2. Bring a pot (large enough for your potatoes) of water to a rolling boil. Add potatoes and boil for 10-15 minutes. Drain and let cool for 5 minutes. You want the potatoes to still be hard in the centre. 

  3. Spread the potatoes on your prepared baking tray and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, flip and continue roasting for another 20 until crispy and golden.

  4. While your potatoes are cooking, heat the remaining olive oil in a pan over medium heat and add your onions and garlic. Sauteé for 5 minutes, until the onion has softened and started browning on the edges. 

  5. Add your thyme and rosemary to the pan and fry for a further 30 seconds until fragrant. Transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside.

  6. Once your potatoes are golden and crispy, remove from the oven and place in your mixing bowl. Toss to combine and coat the potatoes. Place back in the oven and roast for an additional 5 minutes.

  7. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt and lemon zest.

  8. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Maple Glazed Carrots
Course: Side Dish
Servings: 4
Author: Give a Fork
  • 500 grams Baby Carrots rainbow or orange
  • 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 Lemon juiced
  • Pink Peppercorns
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius and line a baking sheet with baking paper.

  2. Toss the whole carrots in a mixture of olive oil and maple syrup. Spread the carrots on your baking tray in a single layer.

  3. Roast for 20-30 minutes until tender and the edges crispy. Remove from the oven and drizzle with a little lemon juice, and finish with some pink peppercorns.

  4. Enjoy!

Green Goddess Salad
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Servings: 4
Author: Give a Fork
  • 1/2 cup Pumpkin Seeds roasted
  • 4 Baby Gem Lettuce Hearts roughly torn or cut into pieces
  • 1 Cucumber sliced
  • 150 grams Exotic Heirloom Tomatoes (red, green, yellow) halved
  • 1 Avocado sliced
  • 2 tbsp Hemp Seeds
  • 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  • Salt and Black Pepper
Goddess Dressing
  • 1/2 cup Raw Cashews covered in boiling water and soaked overnight
  • 1/4 cup Basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup Chives
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1 tbsp Capers
  • 1/2 Lemon juiced
  • 1/4 cup Ice Water
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
Goddess Dressing
  1. Using the bowl/cup of your high-speed blender combine your all your ingredients and blend on high until you have a completely smooth and creamy dressing. Add more water as need; until you have the desired consistency.

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine add all your ingredients and gently toss to combine, add 1/4 cup of your goddess dressing and toss to coat all the ingredients. Transfer to your salad bowl and sprinkle with hemp seeds and nutritional yeast.

  2. Serve the remaining salad dressing on the side and enjoy!

Vegan Red Nut Holiday Roast
Course: Main Course
Servings: 6
Author: Give a Fork
  • 100 grams Red Lentils
  • 100 grams Chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp Aquafaba (chickpea brine)
  • 50 grams Tomato Puree
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Rosemary finely chopped
  • 1 Carrot grated
  • 3 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 1 Red Onion chopped
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 tbsp Tamari Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cup Vegetable Stock
  • 1 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  • 175 grams Porcini Mushrooms finely chopped
  • 200 grams Mixed Nuts
  • 50 gram Gluten Free Flour
  • 75 grams Gluten Free Oats
  • 2 tbsp Maple Syrup
Cranberry Sauce
  • 150 grams Dried Cranberries
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 Limes juiced
  • 1/2 tsp Maple Syrup
  1. Place the lentils in a saucepan and cook as per package instructions until tender. You want the lentils on the softer side as they'll help to bind everything together. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

  2. Place the nuts in a non-stick frying pan and dry roast until they start going golden brown. You might want to do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Remove from heat and roughly chop.

  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius and line a loaf tin with baking paper, or grease with oil to prevent sticking.

  4. Add all your remaining loaf ingredients to your mixing bowl (chickpeas, aquafaba, tomato puree, rosemary, carrot, garlic, onion, spices, olive oil, tamari sauce, vegetable stock powder, yeast flakes, mushrooms, nuts, flour, oats and maple syrup) Mix everything until combined. Add more herbs if you prefer a strong rosemary flavour.

  5. Transfer the mixture to your prepared loaf tin and use your hands, or the back of a tablespoon, to firmly press all the ingredients down and into the edges.

  6. Place the loaf in the oven, on the lowest shelf, for 1 hour. If the top starts to brown too quickly, cover with heavy duty foil.

  7. Remove the loaf from the oven after 60 minutes and flip the tin over onto a lined baking sheet - the bottom will now be at the top. (The way you would serve it) and pop it back into the oven for 20 minutes or until the edges start browning.

  8. While your loaf is in its final stages of roasting prepare your cranberry sauce by adding all the ingredients to a small saucepan and cook for 5 - 10 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed by the cranberries.

  9. Once your loaf is done in the oven, let cool for 5 minutes and then transfer onto your serving dish. Top with hot cranberries and serve.

  10. Enjoy!

Bourbon Poached Pear with Cardamom Ice Cream
Course: Dessert
Servings: 8
Author: Give a Fork
Poached Pears
  • 4 Forelle Pears peeled
  • 4 cups Boiling Water
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 1 tbsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Cloves
  • 3 strips Fresh Orange Rind
  • 1/4 cup Bourbon
Cardamom and Pecan Ice Cream
  • 15 Cardamom Pods
  • 1 can Coconut Cream
  • 1 can Full Fat Coconut Milk
  • 1/2 cup Organic Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup Roasted Pecan Nuts roughly chopped
Puff Pastry Skirts
  • 400 gram Ready Made Puff Pastry
  • 1/4 cup Left Over Poaching Sauce
Cardamom and Pecan Ice Cream
  1. Make sure to place the bowl of your ice cream maker in the freezer overnight.

  2. Split open the cardamom pods and grind the seeds. Reserve the pods for later.

  3. Place a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat and combine your coconut cream, coconut milk, sugar, coconut oil, ground cardamom seeds, cardamom pods, vanilla extract and salt, stirring occasionally. When the cream begins to simmer remove from heat and cover for 20 minutes, allowing the pods to steep.

  4. Strain the cream through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing to get as much flavour from the cardamom pods as possible.

  5. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water. Pour the cream base into a ziploc bag and submerge for 30 minutes.

  6. Pour your cream base into the bowl of your pre-frozen ice cream maker. Churn for 10 minutes and add your roasted pecans, churn for another 10 minutes. 

  7. Once your ice cream is done churning transfer to a loaf tin or freezer-safe container, placing some baking paper directly on the surface of the ice cream.

  8. Freeze until firm, preferably overnight.

Bourbon Poached Pears
  1. Pour the boiling water into a large pot, large enough to fit all your ingredients without bubbling over.

  2. Add the cinnamon sticks, maple syrup, bourbon, cinnamon and nomu vanilla sugar into the boiling water.

  3. When you peel the pears, make sure to leave the stems and pop them into the water. Once the pears are in, bring the liquid back to a simmer. Place the lid on (but tilted) and simmer for 1 - 2 hours. You can leave the pears to steep in the liquid (off the heat) overnight to absorb as much flavour as possible. This can be done the day before serving. 

  4. Keep the pears in the liquid until serving.

Puff Pastry Skirts
  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celcius and line a baking tray with baking paper.

  2. Gently roll out your puff pastry, you want to keep the pastry quite thick and light so don't roll too much. Use a cookie cutter and make 4 skirts, one for each pear.

  3. Brush the pastry with the bourbon poaching liquid and place on your lined baking tray. 

  1. Place a poached pear (standing upright) on each of your prepared puff pastry skirts, drizzle with a tablespoon of the poaching liquid and bake for 10-15 minutes until the pastry is golden at the top.

  2. Remove from the oven and place on your dessert plates. Serve immediately alongside your cardamom ice-cream.

  3. Enjoy!


  1. Reply

    Tess Gadd

    Dec 24, 2018

    I made the vegan red nut holiday loaf and it was delicious. Over all I found it a very forgiving recipe as I needed to make a few swops and did the cooking at two different times ( I did the first hour at night then refrigerated it, then continued in the morning).

    Porcini for button mushrooms
    Tamari for soy sauce
    Tomatoe purée for a nutribulleted tomatoe

    I also didn’t have a loaf tin so used a round one and it actually looked pretty cool (although on the second round of cooking I did leave it in the oven for an extra 10 mins).

    When I make it again, I might use the “poke cake” method and make holes in the top of the loaf so that the sauces seeps in more.

    Plastic free tip:
    Nude Food has plastic and tin-free chickpeas, lentils, cranberries and mixed nuts.
    If you bring your own jars/bags to Fruit and Veg you can get plastic free cranberries and nuts.