EatWell Christmas: The Festive Plant

EatWell Christmas: The Festive Plant

Veggie-friendly options have previously been limited to a boring lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad … and maybe a potato if you’re lucky! Our Festive Plant menu aims to transform the way we think about cooking with plant-based produce to really celebrate it in a delicious and innovative way. Vegetarians and plant-forward eaters can rejoice in salivation on Christmas Day with these beautiful recipes.

Christmas Badrijani: Walnut Eggplant Rolls

(From In Praise of Veg by Alice Zaslavsky)

Christmas Badrijani: Walnut Eggplant Rolls

When I’m asked to sum up Georgian food, I always fire back “walnuts, garlic, coriander” — it may as well be our holy trinity. It’s this dish that is always aligned with big celebrations. I particularly love this version, where the trinity is whizzed into a paste, along with some classic spices. It’s then wrapped in golden-roasted eggplant, its bitterness and bite sweetened and mellowed through some quality time in the oven.
Serves: 2–3 as a main

Ingredients:

  • 5–6 small–medium eggplants, 1 ½ kg total
  • Olive oil spray
  • 1 cup (approx. 120g) shelled walnuts
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp curry powder
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • Salt & pepper, to season

Pomegranate sauce:

  • 1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

To Serve:

  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Coriander leaves

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line 3 trays with baking paper and spray with olive oil.
  2. Cut the eggplants vertically into 8mm thick slices. Try to keep the “butts” on each side to a minimum, as these don’t fold too well.
  3. Arrange on the lined baking trays in a single layer, then spray with olive oil. Bake for 50–60 mins, turning halfway, until golden on both sides, softened and cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the walnuts, garlic, vinegar, spices and just-boiled water in a high-speed blender until a smooth paste forms. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  6. When the eggplant is cooked, remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Scoop approx. 1 tsp of the walnut paste onto one short edge of each eggplant slice, then roll, pressing the end over and resting it on this side to keep it secure.
  7. Arrange the eggplant rolls on a platter. Drizzle with some of the dipping sauce and scatter with pomegranate seeds and coriander. Serve with remaining sauce.

Tip: Walnuts are up there with pine nuts in being highly susceptible to rancidity once cracked. Beware of sealed packets with a long shelf life, particularly if the nuts look powdery. Either take the time to crack your own, or buy them from a bulk store where you can audaciously ask to taste before you buy. Store any leftover nuts in an airtight container in the fridge.

Shortcut: You can circumvent the walnut shelling by subbing in crunchy peanut butter (or any nut butter) instead. To speed up the eggplant process, salt the slices, pat them dry and grill instead of baking — they’ll turn out slipperier, but they’ll cook more quickly. Drizzle with molasses instead of the pomegranate sauce.

Alice Zaslavsky

Alice Zaslavsky

Alice is a self-described “vegelante” whose passion for the humble veg transcends into dishes far beyond a typical yawn-fest iceberg salad. Her best-selling cookbook In Praise of Veg is THE go-to guide for cooking with vegetables! At the end of the day, Alice just wants to encourage people to find the joy in cooking and eating. Cheers to that!

Emma Dean’s Choc Cherry Vegenetta

Emma Dean's Choc Cherry Vegenetta

You’ll love this take on a classic Aussie favourite — but now let’s make it truly kinder for our festive season. Oh, did I also mention that it’s vegan, gluten-free and delish? Winning!

Serves: 6–8

  • ½ cup Pana Organic Coco Crunch Drink Blend
  • 3 tubs Pana Organic Vanilla Bean Frozen Dessert
  • 200g jar Pana Organic Hazelnut Chocolate Spread
  • Coconut oil, to grease
  • Fresh or pickled CherryHill Cherries, pitted & chopped

To Serve:

  • 45g Pana Organic Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Bar
  • Handful fresh CherryHill cherries
  • Handful fresh organic hazelnuts
  • Sprinkle Pana Organic Chai Drink Blend

Method:

  1. Temper the tubs of Pana Organic Vanilla Bean Frozen Dessert in the fridge for 20 mins to make them easier to spread. Be careful not to melt, just enough to soften.
  2. When ready to construct, stir the jar of Pana Organic Hazelnut Chocolate Spread to combine and soften.
  3. Lightly grease the base of a loaf pan with oil and line with baking paper or eco-film. My trick is to make sure the liner overhangs a little on the 2 longest sides. This will make it much easier to pull out when it’s time to serve.
  4. Using a dessert spoon, scoop a whole tub of Pana Organic Vanilla Bean Frozen Dessert into the lined pan so it evenly covers the bottom. Use the back of the spoon to gently press and smooth the mixture.
  5. Drizzle with 2 or more tbsp of the Pana Organic Hazelnut Chocolate Spread and a few CherryHill Cherries.
  6. Repeat with the next tub of Vanilla Bean Frozen Dessert, Hazelnut Chocolate Spread and cherries.
  7. Finish with the final tub of Vanilla Bean Frozen Dessert, then sprinkle the Pana Organic Coco Crunch Drink Blend on top and press down. This will create a fantastic crunchy base when ready to serve.
  8. Place in the freezer to set.
  9. Once firm and ready to serve, turn your Choc Cherry Veganetta dessert out onto a serving platter (you might want to add more Coco Crunch before you do, just for extra crunch). Drizzle over some additional Hazelnut Chocolate Spread and watch it set like Ice Magic.
  10. Grate some Pana Organic Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Bar over the top, scatter fresh Cherryhill Cherries and hazelnuts around the plate, and sing ‘Joy to the World’ at the top of your lungs. This is a true winner that will have everyone asking for more!

Tip: The flavours of cinnamon and spice work beautifully with this dessert, so sprinkle with a little Pana Organic Chai Drink Blend.

Tobin Kent

Tobin Kent

We all have a happy place, right? For Tobin, that place is foraging in the gardens of Moonah restaurant, finding seasonal gems to harvest.
A world of imagination awaits in the culinary eyes of this superstar chef. Tobin’s greatest joy is cooking with quality local produce sourced from the Otways and around the bay.

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