There are many constants that come with the Christmas season, most of which include the positive, holiday spirit-inducing traditions that we enjoy with our loved ones every year. But this season can also leave us feeling a little overwhelmed. In this post, Jemima gave us some great tips on how we can avoid stress in the lead up to Christmas.
In my experience, one of the biggest stresses this time of year is cooking the family’s Christmas dinner… especially if you’re in charge of making the entire meal!
But fret not, because there are steps you can take ahead of time to make sure your dinner is a success and reduce any possible stress that comes with it. As outlined by the Stress Management Society, there are plenty of ways to create a relaxing environment in the home, especially during the holidays. Some of the more dinner-related suggestions are to make sure you plan ahead, and to create a calming atmosphere with laid-back music and relaxing aromas. This month, I’ve been listening to lots of London Grammar and James Blake, and making great use of my aromatherapy oil burners and scented candles. All of which have helped to keep me relaxed whilst I’ve been beavering away in the kitchen.
And when it comes to making a stress-free Christmas dinner, I personally suggest ditching the ‘typical’ Christmas dinner main course of oven-roasted turkey for something a little different. As I wrote recently, my mum introduced me to nut roasts when I was 12 years old—and I’ve enjoyed them as the centrepiece to my Christmas dinner ever since. My latest take on the recipe is to make it with a base of red lentils and cashews, which is then topped with a festive cranberry glaze.
But the best thing about this dish, apart from the taste, is that you can make it up to three days ahead of time. You could even do it earlier than that and freeze it if you wanted, because it’ll keep for weeks that way. Preparing it in advance will also free up space in your oven because let’s face it, we’ve all struggled with trying to fit all the Christmas dinner components in there at once. But don’t let that lead you to believe that you need a bigger oven or that you need to spend more time swapping food in and out. As My Smart Buy points out, you can simply grab a new oven rack (or two) and you’ll be able to expedite your meal-preparation process.
With that in mind, all you’ll need to do on Christmas Day is get started on those veggies. You are obviously free to use whichever ones you like to accompany the nut roast, but my favourites are roasted potatoes, maple-glazed parsnips and carrots, and Brussels sprouts. This year, I might also try cooking some vegan Yorkshire puddings (from Viva!’s Mini Guide to a Veggie Christmas) and some herbed chestnut stuffing balls, so an additional oven rack will definitely come in useful!
In previous years, I’ve made the nut roast 1-2 days in advance, then on Christmas Day, I start preparing the veggies about 1.5 hours before I’m planning to serve the dinner. Here’s how I usually prepare the roasted veggies…
Roast Potatoes with Maple-Glazed Parsnips and Carrots
Hands-on time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 45-60 minutes Ready in: 65-80 minutes
1.2 kg / 2.6 lbs potatoes
6 medium parsnips (about 950g / 34 oz)
6 medium carrots (or 12 thin carrots) (about 600g / 21 oz)
3 TBSP maple syrup
Prepare two large pans of boiling water.
Peel the veggies. Cut the potatoes into even sized chunks. Slice the parsnips and carrots lengthwise (thin carrots can be kept whole).
Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F / Gas 6.
Ready, set, go!
Put the potatoes in one pan, and the carrots and parsnips in a second pan. Boil for 5 minutes, then drain in a colander and allow to steam dry.
Meanwhile, pour a generous glug of olive oil in a roasting tin and place in the oven to preheat.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with non-stick baking paper.
Place the parboiled potatoes in a lidded pan, and give them a shake to rough them up (this will give them a lovely crispy exterior when roasted). Remove the roasting tin from the oven and carefully place the potatoes in it (watch out as the oil may spit!) Stir to coat them in the oil, lightly sprinkle with salt, and spread them out in a single layer. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes or so, until golden brown and crispy. Give the potatoes a stir every 10 minutes or so, to prevent them sticking to the tin.
Place the carrots and parsnips in a bowl along with 1 TBSP olive oil, and toss to coat. Drizzle in the maple syrup. Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes or so, until tender and golden, stirring occasionally.
While the veggies are roasting, I prepare the Brussel sprouts and gravy. I usually just boil the sprouts in a little salted water. Last year, I made the gravy from scratch but, this year, I’m going to use the Colman’s Instant Gravy Paste with Roasted Onion as it’s less hassle and has a great flavour!
When the roasted veggies are almost ready, I slice the nut roast and either heat it up in the microwave (covered with a plate to prevent it drying out), or pop it in the oven for a few minutes.
And that’s dinner sorted!
Now I just need to get on with the Christmas card writing, present wrapping, Christmas cake decorating and cracker making. With the assistance of one of Santa’s little helpers, I’m sure all tasks will be finished in good time and in good spirits 😉
What veggies are you planning to serve on Christmas Day? If you’ve got any lovely recipes, please do link up below xx