It’s easy for vegetarians to feel short-changed at Christmas. I created this vibrantly coloured, subtly spiced, sweet and savoury pastry number with them in mind, but it seems popular with meat-eaters as well. I eat sprouts year-round, in one form or another, transforming them with spice and lemon zest without a lot of effort. Christmas should be all-inclusive and this year, although it may be a smaller affair, I want it to be extra-special, bringing much-needed joy to everyone around the table. If you have any vegans among you, I’ve suggested ways to make both recipes plant-based, too.
Beetroot, feta and chestnut puffs (pictured above)
To make this suitable for plant-based eaters, use a vegan feta and glaze it with a little light olive oil instead of egg before baking.
Prep 15 min
Cook 20 min
300g cooked vacuum-packed beetroot in natural juice (or 3 small cooked and peeled beetroots)
100g vacuum-packed chestnuts, each roughly chopped into 8 pieces
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp dried oregano (wild, ideally)
Salt and black pepper
1 x 320g sheet all-butter puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
Coarsely grate the beetroot, then place it in a sieve andsqueeze out the juices without crushing it. Put the beetroot in a bowl with the chestnuts, chilli, oregano and a generous amount of black pepper, then crumble in the feta and give everything a good mix.
Weigh the mixture and divide it into four equal portions. Cut the pastry lengthways into four equal rectangles. Spoon one portion of filling into the centre of each pastry rectangle and form into a sausage shape in the centre of the rectangle, leaving a 2cm pastry border clear around the edges, for folding over later. Pack and compress the filling, then pull the top and bottom edges of the pastry over the filling, just enough so it covers the sides of the filling and holds it in snugly. Neatly fold over and pinch together both ends of the pastry to seal, so you end up with a little pastry boat with the filling as passenger. Repeat with the remaining filling and pastry rectangles.
Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7 and line a large oven tray with baking paper. Brush the pastry all over with beaten egg and bake for 20 or so minutes, until deeply golden brown. Serve immediately, or leave to cool to room temperature. If you want to get ahead, they freeze well, too: build the pastries, brush with egg, then freeze. To cook from frozen, add five minutes to the cooking time.
Harissa, honey and cumin brussels sprouts
For vegans, substitute the honey for maple syrup or caster sugar and omit the butter.
Prep 10 min
Cook 10 min
500g brussels sprouts, washed, black ends trimmed and cut into quarters
1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp rose harissa
1 heaped tbsp clear honey
Zest of 1 lemon and a good squeeze of ½
Salt and black pepper
Set a saucepan over a medium heat, add the cumin seeds and dry toast for a minute or two, until they release their oils and scent. Add the sprouts and toss to coat them in the cumin seeds.
Drizzle in a little olive oil (less than a tablespoon) and saute the sprouts quickly, adding two tablespoons of cold water to the pan to steam them a little, too. You can turn up the heat a bit, but watch that they don’t brown or burn. I like sprouts to have some bite, so cook them for only five or six minutes, depending on their size.
Next, add the rose harissa, honey and lemon juice, stir to coat the sprouts evenly in the sauce, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the butter and lemon zest, stir again to coat and serve at once.
Fiona Beckett’s drinks match You’ll almost certainly be serving Sabrina’s glorious sprouts with the beetroot pastries, so go for a sweet-fruited red such as a new world pinot noir. Aldi’s Specially Selected Chilean Pinot Noir 2019 (14% ) is a bargain at just £6.99.