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Vegetarian and vegan Christmas starters

by Malou Herkes

published on 14 December 2023

Zingy salads, fragrant dips, and fresh, oozy burrata; there are many exciting alternatives to the standard festive starters of smoked salmon, terrines, and meat pâtés. In this collection of meat-free Christmas recipes our favourite cooks, from Nigella to Ottolenghi, share their ultimate starters to kick off a festive spread.

Kathy Slack Fried Pears

Fried Pears, Blue Cheese and Bitter Leaves

For an easy but elegant start to your meal, try Kathy Slack’s dish of fried pears dotted with blue cheese and walnuts, and served on a bed of bitter winter leaves.

From the book

Air Fryer Goat’s Cheese and Caramelised Onion Tarts

by Clare Andrews

These simple yet impressive mini tarts require just a handful of ingredients and a few minutes in the air fryer.

Veggie Haggis and Chutney-seeded Puffs

Veggie Haggis and Chutney-seeded Puffs

by Elly Pear

Suitable for vegans and vegetarians, these crispy little bites are stuffed with plant-based haggis and tangy chutney. They make for a moreish appetiser or party snack.

Ainsley Harriott’s Charred Orange and Spiced Almond Salad

Ainsley Harriott’s Charred Orange and Spiced Almond Salad

This delicate, palate-cleansing salad from Ainsley Harriott makes the most of bitter Seville oranges and winter leaves. Top it with some crunchy spiced almonds.

Christmas Salad

Christmas Salad

This bright festive salad combines crunchy winter radicchio and chicory, sweet red peppers, pops of pomegranate and a zingy clementine dressing.

Ottolenghi’s Burrata with Blood Orange, Coriander Seeds and Lavender Oil

Ottolenghi’s Burrata with Blood Orange, Coriander Seeds and Lavender Oil

by Yotam Ottolenghi, Ramael Scully

Burrata, a fresh cheese made from mozzarella and cream, pairs well with acidic fruit, such as tomatoes, pink grapefruit, clementine or blood oranges. Ottolenghi combines it with striking blood oranges here, but if you can’t get hold of them, swap in another citrus fruit instead. 

Jamie Oliver’s Beetroot Carpaccio

Jamie Oliver’s Beetroot Carpaccio

“It’s amazing how incredibly elegant, silky and delicate beetroots can be”, says Jamie Oliver. The trick here is to invest in a mandolin or make sure you have a super-sharp knife to cut the beets into extra-thin slices. Marinated in balsamic and olive oil, and served with rocket, this is a beautiful starter for Christmas Day.

Spicy Beetroot, Leek and Walnut Salad

Spicy Beetroot, Leek and Walnut Salad

by Yotam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi

Inspired by the flavours of Georgia, Ottolenghi takes staple winter ingredients to new heights with a combination of chilli, pomegranate, and tamarind water.

Crispy Camembert with Morello Cherry Vinaigrette

Crispy Camembert with Morello Cherry Vinaigrette

by Harry Eastwood

Crunchy and golden on the outside, and molten on the inside, these crisp Camembert slices are pure heaven. Paired here with the sweet sourness of a Morello cherry dressing, this is a luxurious vegetarian starter. 

Caramelized Garlic Hummus

Caramelized Garlic Hummus

Making your own hummus is so simple, blitzed up here with jarred chickpeas and sweet, roasted garlic. Nigella recommends serving up this vegetarian nibble or starter with grissini, toasted pitta torn into bits, or crudités. 


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