THIS Christmas, some people will be cooking up a feast that's fresh, festive - and free of meat.
Toowoomba has an active vegetarian and vegan community, and Organic Food Market owner Susan Curtain says there is no reason why a vegetarian Christmas lunch couldn't be a crowd-pleaser.
She said the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables in Australia made for some flavoursome options, such as a beetroot and apple casserole.
"It's hearty, nutritious and visually appealing," Ms Curtain said.
"People want something festive, and this time of year it's easy, because fruit particularly is so prolific. And who doesn't love stone fruit?
"It's about making something a bit special, not something you'd make every day. It makes Christmas dinner special for those who don't eat meat."
Mrs Curtain recommended making a main meal with protein, like a cashew and carrot nut loaf, supported by a number of sides to keep the family satisfied.
Vegetarian Christmas recipes
Ingredients: Two medium beetroots. Two Granny Smith apples. One orange.
Slice beetroots and apple into slices about 5 - 7mm thick. Layer alternately into a casserole dish.
Extract juice from the orange and pour over the beetroot and apple slices.
Cover and bake until fork pierces the slices easily.
Serve hot or cold.
Carrot and cashew nut loaf
Ingredients: One medium onion, chopped. Two cloves garlic. One tbsp oil. 450g carrots, cooked and mashed. 225g cashews, ground. 100g breadcrumbs. One tsp tahini. One tsp caraway seed. Juice of half a lemon. Half cup stock. Salt and pepper to taste.
Fry onion and garlic, and mix together with all other ingredients. Season to taste.
Place mix in a greased 1kg loaf tin, cover with foil and bake at 180C for one hour.
Remove foil and bake uncovered for a further 10 minutes. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before turning out.
Can be frozen before cooking. Serve hot with roast vegetables or cold with salads.
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