Couscous & Chestnut Christmas Stuffing

It’s not so hard eating a plant-empowered diet, it really isn’t. When people ask me the usual (‘But but but, what do you EAT???’) I just bring out the good ol’ arsenal of facts and within five minutes they leave me alone, satisfied that I’m not just surviving on salad. (Please, as if.)

But then Christmas comes around and these clever meat-eaters bring out the big guns: ‘BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ROAST DINNER????’

Ah. The Christmas Roast Dinner. 

Well, there really isn’t anything you can do to replace it. Let me just break it to you not-so-gently if you’re a newbie veggie chomper: you’re going to have to give up the roast dinner you’ve always known

The good news is you can just make up your own kind of Christmas dinner. Who says you are absolutely required to devour a big chunk of decaying flesh dripping in fat? Point them to me and I shall deal with them. In the meantime, you focus on the stuffing and the delicious crispy roasted vegetables. 

This stuffing is light and packed with gentle, soothing flavours. The wonderful thing about stuffing is that you can really do whatever you want with it: shake up the flavours, add more or less seasoning, use bread or go off tradition with some other grains. It’s your party, you eat what you want! I wanted couscous, chestnuts and just a little bit of creamy pumpkin, so that’s what I put together. And that’s what I’m having this Christmas. 

Serves 6
Prep time: 10 minutes total
Cooking time: 50 minutes total

200g vacuum-packed chestnuts
300g couscous
75g dried apricots
500ml vegetable stock
200g pumpkin puree
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 tbsp vegan margarine + extra for greasing
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried parsley
zest of 1 orange
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
Preheat the oven at 200ºC. Grease a large ovenproof dish 
Place the couscous in a large mixing bowl. Boil some water in the kettle and cover the couscous with the boiling water. Set aside for 15 minutes or until it is puffed up and cooked. 
In a large pan melt some vegan margarine to lightly fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes until translucid. Pour over half of the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook the onion for 10-15 minutes, until the stock begins to reduce. Add the couscous to the pan and pour over the remaining stock. Cook until the couscous has absorbed all the stock (it shouldn’t take too long) then transfer the couscous and onion to the mixing bowl. Stir in the pumpkin puree, chestnuts, dried apricots and spices. 
You could serve the stuffing as is if you’re pressed for time; however if you’re not in a rush, transfer the stuffing to the ovenproof dish and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Serve individually in little pumpkins for extra flair and sass. 


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