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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Joe Woodhouse

Joe Woodhouse’s vegetarian standouts for Christmas day – recipes

Joe Woodhouse's squash, red onion and stilton pie.
Joe Woodhouse’s squash, red onion and stilton pie. Photograph: Yuki Sugiura/The Guardian. Food styling: Sam Dixon. Prop styling: Louie Waller. Food assistant: Jeyda Ramis.

For too long, vegetarians have been an afterthought at the Christmas table. Usually I’m the only non-meat eater at mine, and I’ve got used to just eating the sides. But in recent years I’ve made more effort to mark the occasion with a special centrepiece that I can eat, too; here are two such things. I love making them because they can be prepped ahead and finished at the last minute. The problem now is that I have to make enough for the others to have a taste: who can resist a creamy, breadcrumb-flecked sprout gratin or a veg-packed filo pie laced with stilton? All the best bits of Christmas eating distilled into two meat-free mains that everyone will love.

Squash, red onion and stilton pie (pictured top)

This is really just a template and welcomes improvisation with whatever ingredients you have around. It also reheats really well (I once baked one ahead and reheated it whole the next day, and it was brilliant).

Prep 20 min
Cook 1 hr 10 min
Serves 6

1 whole squash (about 700-800g) – crown prince, red kuri or butternut
4 red onions (about 500g), peeled and quartered lengthways
Salt and black pepper
3-4 tbsp olive oil
700g greens, cabbage, sprouts
, or a mix, shredded
50g unsalted butter
, melted
270g filo pastry
200g stilton
, or other blue cheese

Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Cut the squash into 3-4cm chunks and scoop out and discard the seeds. Toss the squash pieces on a baking tray with the onions, a pinch of salt and two to three tablespoons of olive oil, then roast for 20-30 minutes, turning once halfway, until cooked through but not overly caramelised.

Put a medium saucepan on a medium-high heat, add the shredded greens, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil, then cook, turning often, for five to seven minutes, until wilted (they don’t need to be fully cooked at this stage).

Turn down the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6, and brush a 35cm x 25cm baking tin with butter. Put two sheets of pastry in the greased tin so they meet in the middle and fall over the sides, then brush lightly with butter. Repeat with another two sheets of pastry.

Stir the wilted greens into the squash and onion mix, then transfer to the pastry-lined baking tin. Crumble over the cheese in largish chunks, add a few grinds of black pepper, then fold the overhanging pastry up and into the centre, to cover the edges of the filling. Lay another sheet of pastry bang in the centre of the tin and brush lightly with butter. Brush the last two sheets of pastry lightly with butter, ruffle and lightly fold them, then place on top of the pie – this will guarantee lots of crunchy bits.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, turning once halfway through, until evenly golden brown.

Sprout gratin with lemon rice

Joe Woodhouse’s sprout gratin with lemon rice
Joe Woodhouse’s sprout gratin with lemon rice. Photograph: Yuki Sugiura/The Guardian. Food styling: Sam Dixon. Prop styling: Louie Waller. Food assistant: Jeyda Ramis.

This is a wonderful way to show off sprouts, though these also go well with buttered pasta. I would still add the lemon zest, and a spritz of juice, because sprouts welcome its freshness. I use a 25cm cast-iron skillet, but that makes for a cramped pan, so a slightly larger one would give you more wiggle room.

Prep 20 min
Cook 1 hr
Serves 4-6

4 tbsp olive oil
500g onions
(about 4 medium ones), peeled and cut into eighths
Salt and black pepper

500g brussels sprouts, cleaned, ends trimmed and cut in half
100ml white wine
250g creme fraiche
25g parsley
, stems and leaves, finely chopped
100g fresh breadcrumbs
For the lemon rice
250g rice
– I use brown basmati
1 bay leaf
50g unsalted butter
, cubed
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Yoghurt, to serve

Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Put the rice in a medium saucepan with the bay leaf and 500ml water, bring to a simmer, turn the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for 15 to 20 minutes – keep an eye on it, though (brown rice takes longer). I use a spoon to pull away the grains and check if any water is left at the bottom; if there is, keep going.

Once all the water is gone and the rice is tender, add the butter, lemon zest and juice to the pan, cover with two tea towels and the lid to form a seal, and leave for five to 10 minutes. Uncover, fluff up the rice and leave uncovered.

Meanwhile, heat three tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring, for three to five minutes, until the onions are soft and have taken on a little colour. Add the sprouts and another pinch of salt and cook, turning often, for a further two to three minutes.

Add the wine to the pan, followed by the creme fraiche and 200ml water, stir to incorporate, then add a few grinds of pepper and the parsley. Mix the final tablespoon of oil with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle in an even layer on top of the sprouts. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes; I like sprouts to retain a little bite, but if you prefer a softer finish, cook them for longer.

Serve with the lemon rice and a good dollop of yoghurt.

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