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Holiday indulgence should be a pleasure, not something that leaves you feeling overstuffed afterwards. One way to cut down on the heaviness is to include vegan recipes in your Christmas repertoire.

Viva! Vegan Recipe Club promises to “veganise” your holiday feast with animal-free versions of favourite seasonal recipes. They have a big batch of recipes for alternatives to traditional starters, mains, snacks and sweets and if you don’t see your favourite dish, they’ll create a recipe if you email  info@viva.org.uk with your request!

I like the idea of substituting or adding vegan versions because it lets you adapt your cooking and eating to fit with your traditions and tastes. You can keep the turkey or ham, or whatever is important, and add delicious, healthful alternatives to round out the meal.

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This aubergine recipe stood out for me… click here for the full listing.

Aubergine towers with roast tomato sauce

A nice dish for a special occasion. It is made in several stages, none of which are difficult – most of the cooking time takes place in the oven, leaving you free to do other things (bar the occasional oven check!). The sauce ingredients and main course ingredients will be ready at roughly the same time – all you need to do is quickly blend the sauce and serve it with the aubergine towers.

Nut-free? Omit the cashews and replace with half a pack of plain tofu, cut into chunks, fried and flavoured with tamari (gluten-free soya sauce). If allergic to seeds, eg sesame, replace tahini with arrowroot – see recipe
Gluten-free? Replace bread crumbs with Orgran Rice Crumbs (gluten-free and vegan) – good health food shops or else online from OcadoRealfoods etc

Ingredients:

  • 4 small aubergines
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50g/2oz sultanas
  • 50g/2oz cashew nuts, toasted and chopped (see above for nut-free option)
  • 2 tsp tahini (sesame seed paste) – use 1 tsp arrowroot for gluten-free and nut-free option
  • 50g/2oz sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped Salt and pepper

Roast Tomato Sauce

  • 450g/1lb beef tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped or crushed
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper

Method:

1. Put an inch or two of hot water at the bottom of a steamer and bring to the boil then turn to a simmer. Meanwhile, slice off top and bottom of each aubergine and stand upright. Using a sharp knife, carefully scoop out flesh leaving skin intact. Chop the flesh and set aside. Put the aubergine ‘bodies’ on to steam – upright if possible – for about 5-7 minutes. This will tenderise them a little. Don’t let them get too soft or they will fall apart in the oven! Remove from heat and take the lid off the steamer when they are done.

2. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 and get two roasting tins ready. You need two shelves in the oven – make sure there is enough space for the aubergine towers to stand up!

3. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry onion, garlic and spices for 5 minutes. Add aubergine flesh and lemon rind and continue to cook for a further 8 minutes or until tender. Stir in remaining ingredients and season to taste.

4. While the filling is simmering, prepare the sauce. Place all the sauce ingredients in one of the roasting tins and toss everything in the oil so all the vegetables are well coated.

5. When the filling is ready, spoon it into the aubergine towers and brush with oil.

6. Add 1cm/1/2 inch of water to the second roasting tin and carefully place the aubergine towers in it. Place both roasting tins in the oven and bake everything for 40 minutes. Check occasionally to ensure nothing is sticking or burning – rotate the roasting tins if necessary or swap shelves.

7. Just before serving, remove the sauce roasting tin from the oven and blend everything for a few seconds – either in a food process or transfer ingredients to a bowl and use a hand blender. Keep warm and serve with the aubergine towers.

 Share your favourite good-for-you holiday recipe in the comments!

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