The conventional Christmas dinner tends to be one, juicy meat fest. It goes, in order of appearance: turkey, ham, sausages wrapped in bacon, sausage-meat stuffing. It’s like a farm AGM, only the animals aren’t particularly chatty. The cow managed to get out of this one.
It often goes without saying that the main event is a meaty one. Many more people these days are going veggie, delighting in delicacies that look and taste slightly porcine (quorn sausages I’m looking at you), although of course a fair number of vegans/vegetarians aren’t that interested in re-creating the taste of animals.
We’re almost at January, people, which is the month many give up drinking or embark on a health drive. It is also known as Veganuary, which is pretty self-explanatory. People in search for a challenge in the New Year (brought on by one too many indulgences during the Christmas period) see vegan as their Mount Everest: like giving up booze, the temptation is everywhere and the month is long. Except I’m not sure it is as difficult as it is sometimes presented. I’m not trying to belittle anybody who is going to do it (I’m going meat n dairy free too) and I’m not suggesting that being vegan is the easiest lifestyle choice at all, but rather than hope to be one of the ‘survivors’, I want to see what effect eating neither meat nor dairy has on my mind, body and bank balance at the end of January and enjoy the opportunities it offers. There’s a load of beans I have yet to sample, I can’t wait to try to make daal and I’ve already come across a treat of a soya coconut yoghurt which will keep me away from chocolate. Link me your vegan recipes if you have them!!
Before Christmas I decided to make a green Thai curry. I sautéed butternut squash cubes before adding readymade Thai green curry paste and coconut milk, before letting the liquid infuse and soften Mr Squash. After about half an hour I put the rice on to boil, added spinach to the curry and at the last minute I threw in some cherry toms for an extra colour.
I am sure that once you open curry pastes the spices grow hotter over time, like English mustard. The sauce was v spicy. But the squash added a sweetness and rice does an excellent job of mellowing the green heat that flames the nooks and crannies of your mouth. Verdant spinach adds another shade of green to the dish and its texture works beautifully with a curry that has lots of liquid.
All in all a warming, easypeasy and vibrant meal that can be made in bulk. And it contains neither meat nor dairy, which I only realized the following lunch time when I went through its ingredients in my head.