It’s that time of year where thoughts turn to what we’ll eat for Christmas lunch this year. It will be my third year knocking something up that is meat-free and I’m wondering what I can rustle up in the kitchen that will not have me tearing my hair out and will enable me to still spend time with the family. Last year I made a Mushroom Wellington which was a huge success, but it took my a bit of time to assemble that I don’t know Dinky will afford me with this time round!
The options on offer in the supermarkets have improved over the last year so I’ve decided to review some of the off the shelf ‘roasts’ we have available to us. Whatever you choose we hope you have a lovely day 🙂
Tofurky Roast & Herb Gravy, Available at Holland & Barrett and vegan stores nationwide
Judging by the vegan walls I’m part of on Facebook, Tofurky’s alternative is a popular choice amongst the community. Retailing at around £10.99 it is one of the most expensive options out there (although not as expensive as Moodley Manor!) but it is said there’s usually enough left over for sandwiches the following day.It comes wrapped in plastic that isn’t easy to remove without damaging some of the contents. A glaze using oil, soy sauce and herbs is recommended to stop it drying out.
It can be cooked in foil but I chose a casserole dish to cook ours in. It resembles a haggis, which is a little strange, but I didn’t think it looked particularly big given its price. It was in the oven for 1 hr and 15 mins and doesn’t need to be basted during cooking.
The mushroom and rice stuffing is nice, and I found the slices to be moist. I personally didn’t like the herb gravy sachet it comes with it and made my own instead. There was enough to feed a family of four but I doubt there’d be any left for sandwiches. Due to its shape it isn’t easy to slice if you’re wanting to eek more out of the roll.
Cheatin’ Celebration Roast, Available at Holland & Barrett and vegan stores nationwide
The first year of Mr. Canny’s veganism we had this Cheatin’ Celebration Roast (£5.89) as part of our Christmas lunch. I still ate meat at the time and I was less than impressed. Almost a year into my own abstinence from meat and I decided it was time to give it another try to see if my attitude had changed. Replete with a vegan version of ‘pigs in blankets’ (can we find a nicer name for these, please?) this roast is pre-sliced to help with the carving issue. It can be cooked in foil or in a casserole dish or foil – much like the Tofurky version – and takes around 40 minutes to cook.
I actually didn’t mind the sliced meat replacement as much as I had in the past, but it doesn’t compare texturally to the Tofurky. I think for those on a budget the Cheatin’ version is great, but I’d personally try to stretch to the Tofurky for Christmas lunch. I also wasn’t keen on the sage sausages wrapped in fake bacon. It was all too synthetic tasting for my liking.
Linda McCartney Beef Roast with Red Wine & Shallot Glaze, Available in supermarkets nationwide
Retailing around the £3.50 mark is Linda McCartney’s Vegetarian Roast Beef. Similar in texture to a meatloaf, I was keen to try out this alternative. I don’t really think it is like roast beef, but its meaty quality makes it a good addition to a Sunday lunch.
If you live in a household where you are the only vegetarian or vegan, this might make a purse-friendly option for your Christmas lunch. Not everyone likes ‘turkey’ for their festive dinners anyway, so the ‘beef’ is a nice substitute. I personally liked the shallot glaze and found it kept the roast moist during its cooking in the oven. It is on the sweet side, which might not be to everyone’s tastes.
It sliced well and there was enough to feed three of us comfortably. I think it is good value for money, and there are definitely ways you could tart it up to make it more of a showstopper for one of the most important meals to be eaten as a family, like accompanying with some slow roasted onions and stuffing balls. Cooking time is around the 40 minute mark.
Fry’s Soy & Quinoa Country Roast, Available from Ocado and a variety of health food retailers
Retailing at around £4.99, Fry’s frozen roast alternative has been winning praise from many online. We decided to give it a try as we like many of their meat alternatives.
The instructions are that the roast needs to be defrosted before cooking in the oven, something I didn’t read until I was about to bung it in! Plans for dinner were shelved that evening and an alternative was whipped up from the cupboard. Taking around the same cooking time as Artisan and Cheatin’s Celebration Roast, I found the Fry’s roast ‘dried out’ a little during its time in the oven. I also wasn’t keen on the herby dusting on top, but that’s a preference thing. It was quite meaty in texture and there was enough for 4, but I wasn’t as keen on this as I was others I’d recently trialled. I think I’d save £2.50 and opt for Artisan’s instead.
Artisan Nut Roasts (in a variety of different options), available from Holland & Barrett and a selection of retailers nationwide
Nut Roasts are definitely the most traditional option to serve up to vegetarians and vegans and you don’t have to slave over a stove making your own if you’re time pushed. Not everyone likes the texture of meat alternatives either. Artisan’s range of nut roasts (there is a festive Cranberry flavour for sale) are very easy to prepare and also save on the washing up as they come in their own cardboard sleeve ready for the oven. Retailing around the £2.50 mark and a cupboard stored option, we always have one on standby as a simple mid-week supper.
These are so easy to make. All that is required is that the dried mix has water added to it and is left for 5 minutes. It is then decanted back into the card sleeve and cooked in the oven for 40 minutes.
Again, if you are the only vegan this works out as a great alternative that won’t cost too much to add to your shopping list. Rather than being dry and mealy, we find this one of the best nut roasts on the market.
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Three Nut and Mushroom Roast
Taking just 40 minutes in the oven and costing £5, Sainsbury’s are clearly hoping their vegan option for Christmas lunch ends up top of the supermarket choices this year. It comes with a sachet of Port & Redcurrant Gravy, which I have to say I wasn’t keen on.
One issue I encountered was the nuts and cranberries topping the roast caught quite early on in cooking, even though I followed the instructions to the letter. It didn’t dry out the way others do but visually it looked more like a Christmas Cake than the star of the show!
It was enjoyable but I felt that it wasn’t special enough for one of the most important meals of the year. I’d prefer to save money and use the Artisan alternative than pay £5 for something that only fed 2 people comfortably.
Tesco Festive Nut Roast £3.50
Looking like a frozen cake as it was removed from the box, I wasn’t overawed by the appearance of Tesco’s punt at a vegan Christmas lunch substitute. The texture was on the ‘bitty’ side for me, and I found a couple of hard lumps as I was eating it.
This put me right off. There may be whole nuts in the mix but that wasn’t what I was finding amongst the cranberries and veg, unfortunately. I might have been very unlucky, but I won’t be rushing to pick up another.
M&S Festive Parsnip and Mulled Red Onion Roast £3
Looking more like a side dish than the star of the show, Marks & Spencer’s Festive Parsnip & Onion Roast was very sweet compared to the others we’d tested. With mushrooms, quinoa, apricots and cranberries, it was surprisingly filling, but didn’t feel like it was special enough for one of the most important family meals of the year. A great option if you’re the only vegan/vegetarian in the family, especially as it cooks in the oven for around 30 minutes. The texture is more crumble than ‘proper’ nut roast.
Tofurky in reigning supreme in the Christmas Lunch stakes at Chez Canny. We’ll not be forking out £27 to try Moodley Manor’s Roast for 1kg, that’s for sure!
I will be using Linda McCartney’s Cocktail Sausages as a replacement to the traditional Pigs in Blankets and these can simply be popped in the oven with your roasties when needed.
Thanks for reading,
Fancy trying to make vegan Yorkshires to add to your Christmas dinner? Check out our recipe here.