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Salads & Suppers

Salads & Suppers

Christmas for Vegetarians

The mere mention of Yuletide normally has me sweating sequins. I hate feeling like a week-old party balloon before Santa even arrives. So I prep my Christmas menu in advance, and massage my synapses with an extra large vermouth. Vegeterian favourites include dishes like Beet Bourguignon, and buckwheat blini & beluga lentils . These mushroom-based scallops are out of this world, and will rock December 25th for vegans and carnivores alike.

For my GF and vegan friends, you’ll find a recipe for irresistibly-easy Florentines here. And my wholefoodie Christmas Cake, using W.B.Yeats’ favourite tea lapsang Souchong and the genius of Amy Chaplin.

This year, we’re doing Hassleback Squash (below) covered with festive pomegranate seeds and extra pecans. It works both as a side to the turkey, or as a centerpiece for vegans /vegetarian tables.


Hassleback Squash

1 butternut squash, preferably organic

1 teaspoon of olive oil

3 sprigs of rosemary

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

1 fat clove garlic, grated

Good handful of pecans or walnuts

Flaky sea salt and freshly crushed black pepper


1. Fire up your oven to 190-200C. Peel the squash using a potato peeler and long strokes. This is easier than it looks and sounds! (Organic squash skins tend to be thinner and have considerably less chemical coating).

2. Carefully cut the squash in half, lengthways. Scoop out and compost the inner nest of seeds.

3. Rub oil all over your hands and each half. Pop each half onto a large roasting tray, cut side down, and cook in your preheated oven for 20 minutes only. You don’t want the squash to be too soft to cut.

4. Remove the squash from your oven, and carefully transfer each half onto a chopping board. Place wooden spoons either side of the squash half (I’ll show you this in the cookery class). You’ll need to find wooden spoons with similar width handles, but use whatever you have! Chopsticks work beautifully too.

5. Slice the squash from top to toe, all the way to the wooden handles (this will stop the blade cutting right through the butternut and falling apart). Take a peek at the picture, which will give you a good idea.

6. Tuck in tufts of fresh rosemary, followed by butter or olive oil mixed with grated garlic. You’ll need a good few cracks of the salt and black pepper mill too. Bake until the squash begins to colour on top (15 mins). Then parachute over your nuts, and return to the oven to bake a further 5-8 minutes. If you want to sprinkle some brown sugar over the nuts, or dried cranberries, I’m not going to stop you! 

7. Serve in the baking tray/dish, resting on a chopping board to protect your table. Go ahead and pile Brussel sprouts around it, or whatever else is on your Christmas menu.


Vegetarian Scallops

Salads & Suppers

Crazy Easy Curry sauce & DIY paneer

There is lots of licky-sticky goodness crammed into this curry sauce. Think of it as a powerful *cream*, perfect for homemade paneer (below), tofu chunks, cubes of halloumi, steamed baby potatoes or any leftover veg loitering in your fridge. The creaminess comes from soaked cashews, so the sauce is vegan friendly. Here’s the recipe from my weekly Sunday Independent column.



And for those of you who have milk and lemon at home on this thunderous wet day, I definitely recommend giving home made paneer a go! You don’t want to be trotting to the store in this weather …



Hope it brings as much joy to your table, as it does to ours.

Namastasty,

x Susan Jane

Salads & Suppers

Vegetarian Scallops

King oyster scallops make a dazzling alternative to turkey for any vegetarians in your orbit this Yule. Takes a mere 3 minutes to whip up from start to finish. So this recipe might just save Christmas (and your adrenal glands)!

Mushrooms are humming with beta-glucans. These nifty compounds do sha-mazing things for our bodies. They help lower cholesterol by forming a viscous gel that grabs excess cholesterol and moves it through your digestive tract much like La Cucaracha. Beta-glucans also slow down digestion, which in turn stabilizes blood sugar levels and minimizes the release of insulin or fangs (as conducted by my own scientific experiment).

Quite apart from their nutritional kudos, these mushroom scallops taste crazy-good. Hope they find a plate near you.


6 king oyster mushrooms

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons ghee, butter or olive oil


Remove the mushroom stems from their caps. Keep the caps for another use (soup, stir fry, pickle, stock).

Slice each stem into 4 thick discs, resembling scallops. You can score each ‘scallop’ crisscrossing their diameter on each side if you fancy. This will help grab more flavour when they hit the pan, but is not integral to the recipe.

Massage the smoked paprika, salt and olive oil into the shroom scallops.

Heat a large saut√© pan, cast iron griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat. Tip in the butter, ghee or olive oil. Wait until it’s hot enough to hear gentle sizzling noises when you swirl the pan.

Now pop in a few of your shroom scallops, being mindful not to overcrowd the pan and cause the poor chaps to sweat rather than sear.  Colour on both sides. Basting the hot ghee or butter over the scallops will help prevent the fat from burning, and quickly colour your scallops. When both sides are golden brown, remove and add the next batch, doting the pan with fresh butter. Repeat until all the scallops are done.

Serve hot with pureed parsnip or sweet potato. Gorgeous.