Vegan & Gluten Free Christmas 2011

A while back we received an email from one of the editors at Bon Appétit Magazine, asking if we wanted to create a vegan and gluten-free Christmas menu for them, as a special web feature. We usually aren’t strictly vegan or gluten-free, but were so flattered by the offer that we didn’t have to think more than 2 seconds before answering them that we would happily take it on as a challenge (while dancing a silly dance and singing “We are working with BA, we are working with BA…”).

We came up with five different recipes; Cinnamon roasted root vegetables, Mustard kale salad, Spiced spinach tarts, Christmas falafels and a Pomegranate cheesecake. It is always fun to cook at Christmas since you get to use holiday flavors like saffron, clove, cinnamon, mustard and lemon. We hope that the recipes will be of some assistance in all the Christmas commotion, wether you make one dish or go for the whole menu.

The whole thing has been up on the Bon Appétit web for about a week now, and apparently it is on their top list of most popular articles (we’re dancing that silly dance again!). Click here to see it on Bon Appétit. You can also scroll down to read the recipes here.

Spiced Spinach and Mushrooms in Almond Tartlets
Makes 6 tartlets  

Our gluten-free tart crust has the subtle taste of almonds and fresh herbs, and it can be filled with just about anything. One of our favorites is this clove-spiced spinach and mushroom filling. Potato starch, tapioca starch, and all flours are available from Bob’s Red Mill.

Tartlet shells
½ cup superfine chickpea flour or garbanzo bean flour
¼ cup almond flour or almond meal
2 Tbsp. potato starch, tapioca starch, or cornstarch
½ tsp. sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. each finely chopped fresh rosemary and thyme
3 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil plus more for pans

2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil or olive oil (for frying)
1 small red onion, finely chopped
½ tsp. ground cloves
4 cups fresh spinach
1 leek, thinly sliced (including green leaves)
12–15 crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
Juice of ½ lemon

special equipment: Six small tartlet pans

Making the Tartlet shells: Combine the first 4 ingredients in a bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add coconut oil and 3 Tbsp. ice-cold water. Using your hands, work dry ingredients toward the center until dough forms. Gather dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes. DO AHEAD: Dough may be made 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly with plastic and chill.

Preheat oven to 375°. Divide dough evenly into 6 portions. Form each portion into a ball and press 1 dough ball evenly onto bottom and up sides of each tartlet pan. Trim dough flush with edge of pans. Prick bottom with a fork to prevent it from bubbling as it bakes. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Let tartlet shells cool slightly, then invert each pan and turn out shells onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

Making the filling  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cloves and cook until onion is lightly browned; add spinach, leek and mushrooms. Cook until spinach is brightly colored, 3–5 minutes. Add lemon juice and cook 2 minutes longer. Spoon 2 dollops filling into each tartlet shell and serve hot.


Baked Saffron Falafel
4–6 servings  

For this vegan and gluten-free dish, we were inspired by two Swedish Christmas classics—saffron buns and Swedish meatballs. Use red cabbage leaves to wrap individual falafel into small parcels; they’ll look like mini Christmas presents that you’ve set out for your guests. You might recognise this recipe since it is similar to our herb and pistachio falafels.

½ cup raw shelled sunflower seeds
2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, rinsed, drained
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. buckwheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. saffron threads

Tahini dressing and assembly
4 Tbsp. tahini (sesame seed paste)
4 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 red cabbage, cored

1 cup salad greens
2–3 Tbsp.
plain soy yogurt

Making the falafel: Preheat oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pulse sunflower seeds in a food processor for about 30 seconds. Add chickpeas and pulse 1 minute longer. Add onion and remaining ingredients and pulse, occasionally scraping down sides of work bowl, until mixture is slightly coarse and well combined. Using your hands, form 24 small round falafels and place on prepared sheet. Bake, turning every 5 minutes, until falafels are evenly brown, about 15 minutes.

Making Tahini dressing: Using a fork, beat tahini, orange juice, and garlic in a bowl until creamy dressing forms. Set aside.

Assembling: Gently separate leaves from cabbage; rinse and pat dry. Place 2 falafels in the center of a cabbage leaf. Top with a few greens; spoon a little dressing and yogurt over. Fold each side of leaf in toward center, about 1”–2”, then fold the end closer to you over the filling and tuck it under the falafels. Tie with kitchen twine to hold together.


Cinnamon Roasted Vegetables
4–6 servings  

This simple dish takes just a few minutes to prepare; then the oven does the rest of the work. You can throw any kind of vegetable in here; simply adjust the cooking time according to the size.

1 head Romanesco or cauliflower, trimmed, halved lengthwise, cut into small pieces
2 lb. carrots, halved if large

½ lb. parsnips, halved if large
2 medium sweet potatoes. Cut into thick sticks
2 whole garlic cloves, mashed with the end of a knife
1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
5 2”–3” cinnamon sticks

sea salt

Preheat oven to 375°. Place vegetables and garlic in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil; sprinkle cinnamon over and scatter cinnamon sticks around. Season with salt. Using your hands, toss vegetables to coat well. Roast until golden and crispy, about 1 hour. (Time will vary depending on size of vegetables.)


Mustard Quinoa, Cranberry & Kale Salad

4–6 servings  

Here is one of our absolute Christmas favorites. Red quinoa, with a mustard and lemon dressing, served with fresh kale, pomegranate seeds, cranberries, and roasted pecans is perfect for any holiday gathering. You don’t want to miss this one.

1 cup red or black quinoa
Sea salt
4 Tbsp. olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 lemon, preferably organic
2 Tbsp. prepared English mustard
4 large kale leaves, center ribs and stems removed, finely chopped
¼ cup dried cranberries, preferably unsweetened or sweetened with apple juice
¼ cup roasted, salted pecans
Fresh pomegranate seeds

Rinse quinoa in water. Drain and place in a medium size heavy pot; add 2 cups water and season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until a curly string-like germ has separated from the circular part, 15–20 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, whisk oil, lemon zest and juice, and mustard in a bowl until smooth and creamy; season mustard dressing with salt.

Transfer quinoa to a bowl and drizzle with mustard dressing; toss to coat. Divide kale among serving plates; top with quinoa, cranberries, and pecans, dividing equally. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.


Frozen Pomegranate and Cashew Cake
8 – 10 servings  

This is a Christmas version of our Flower Power cake. We use soaked cashews that when blended become super creamy and smooth. The crust is sweet and crunchy with nuts and dates, and the pomegranate topping adds a fresh, fruity note to the Christmas spiced filling. Serve the cake cold but not deep-frozen.

1 1/2 cups raw almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts
1/2 cup raw, shelled sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp. hemp seeds
12 fresh Medjool dates, pitted
2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
1 tsp. sea salt

1/3 cup virgin coconut oil
1/3 cup agave syrup (nectar)
2 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours

Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
Zest and juice of 1 orange

2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Seeds from 2 medium pomegranates (you could substitute it with frozen raspberries to make it less expensive)
Juice of 1/2 lime

Special equipment: An 8”-diameter nonstick springform pan

Crust  Grind the first 3 ingredients in a blender or food processor for 1 minute. Add dates, oil, and salt and purée until mixture comes together. Place in springform pan and press evenly across bottom of pan. Chill.

Filling  Heat oil and agave in a small saucepan over low heat, whisking, until liquid. Place mixture in a blender or food processor; add soaked cashews, lemon juice and zest, orange juice and zest, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; discard bean. Purée until very smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Pour filling over crust and chill in freezer until set, about 30 minutes.

Topping  Place pomegranate seeds and lime juice in blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour topping over cashew filling. Chill in freezer until solid, 30–60 minutes. Let stand at room temperature 10–15 minutes before serving. Run a sharp knife under hot water to make it easier to cut the slices. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Remove from freezer and let stand about 20 minutes before serving.

Photos by: Johanna Frenkel


  • Hannah
    Thank you very much for the cake recipe! I made it for christmas. My cake wasn't as nice pink and white as yours (more brownish and red) but it tasted amazing. The spices, pomegranate and nuts combined really good and to me it was the summary of all christmas scents and flavours. To even the sourness of the pomegranate I made a meringue to go with it, so not totaly vegan, but it worked quite wel. I definately will be making this one more often!
  • maria
    wwwoowww very nice menü !!! i will make it deffinetly !! for me as a free gluten and milk person ;) would love to see more of these recipes pleaseeeee !:)
  • I actually saw this on the BA site and it all looked so good! I searched forever for vegan Christmas ideas and while I didn't make these, I'm dying to try the saffron falafel and the cake. THANK YOU for your creativity!
  • Rachel
    Hi! Firstly I have to say that I just love your blog. I have made a few things from your recipes and tried the Saffron falafel and roasted veggies last night. The vegetables were just perfect, sweet but balanced with the garlic! I will say I wasn't nearly as fond of the saffron falafel as I was with the the herb pistachio version (which I've already made numerous times because it's so perfect) although I think I'll try it one more time. Thanks for sharing your great ideas and have a wonderful new year!
  • How wonderful! Congratulations and the menu looks divine. :)
  • That menu should have anyone drooling! I wish I had something like that for the holidays. :)
  • wow, vilken fantastisk blogg ni har!! Otroligt inspirerande och vackert! jag har precis anmält mig som "subscriber" och jag kommer snart tipsa om er på min blogg ;) Tack!
    • Tack och vad roligt att ni har tittat förbi. :) Nu sitter jag vid köksbordet med veckan a-n-d-r-a omgång av er quinoasallad och DAMN vad god den är! Jag valde att första massera grönkålen i dressingen och sen röra ner den varma quinoa så att syran kunde bearbeta grönkålen före och som sagt - det blev sjukt gott.
  • Hurray for a x-mas dinner that will leave you filled with loads of energy instead of being in a state of food coma. ;)
  • kurabiye
    All look tasty and delicious. But the problem is with gluten free recipies, is that they necessite a lot of different ingredients. C'est decourageant. İts frilling to tempt....
  • elei
    Yum - the cake and - see - the tartlets - and - carrots with cinnamon? It´s looks so delicius. I think i will be adopt most of it for my christmasmeal this year. Thanks to sharing your inspiration ideas with us, once and once again. elei
  • Congratulations guys!!! :) That's amazing. So happy for you both. I have to say, the saffron falafels packaged like presents in cabbage is amazing!!! So, so clever. What a great idea. You are both so talented. The pomegranate cake looks fabulous. I made a raspberry one, but I like the new spin for the holidays. Will definitely be giving the falafels a try. Thanks for sharing.
  • Congrats on working with B.A.! The menu you created is festive and so appetizing! Gorgeous!
  • This is amazingly creative. We are vegan, nut free, wheat free, oat free, soy free sesame free, corn free, grape free, and tomato free but even though I can't make all of these for my fod allergic family I am in awe and will be adapting some flavor combination ideas. Gorgeous.
  • Bravo! Congrats on the story in Bon Appétit! You've made it! I'm visiting the US and just saw this in Bon Appétit and regaled my family with this menu last night - even my carnivorous relatives LOVED everything. I missed Thanksgiving so this was a perfect way to have a belated Thanksgiving-y meal using seasonal produce... and all gluten and lactose-free! Thanks for feeding me well on BOTH sides of the Atlantic ! Looking forward to more gluten and lactose free recipes coming from you guys. So much less depressing knowing that gluten and dairy free doesn't mean TASTE-free too! Sincerely, your tart-loving friend in NY, Rebecca PS When does the GK Stories BOOK come out? ;) Anxiously awaiting that!
    • Wow Rebecca, we are so impressed that you have already made the whole menu, and it hasn't even been Christmas yet! We are so glad that everyone liked it! /David
  • I am making this entire menu (or replacing the frozen cake with the chocolate persimmon tart you posted a while back) for friends on Monday night. AMAZING color, textures and flavors.
  • Mona
    Way to go! Congratulation :-) See you soon <3
  • Stephanie
    wow, amazing!!
  • You guys just rock the party! CONGRATS on your work with B.A.! Weeee!!!
  • Thank you for another fantastic post. I love how accessible you make eating well. The foods you create are simple expressions of the ingredients amazing flavours. xo
  • This looks like a real feast. I look forward to spending Christmas with family in Sweden this year - it will be the usual julbord, but this looks like a great alternative for when I make it myself. We will definitely try the saffron felafel! And congrats on working with Bon Apetit - that's a real coup!
  • Congratulations, and just look how gorgeous this all is! You must be over the moon, and it's so well deserved. Bravo on the attention and credit, and here's to continued delicious recognition and success for your hard work done well. (The falafel and the frozen cashew cake are both breathtaking. What perfect additions to a holiday spread!)
  • fantastic read and lovely photos. Hungry already :)
  • So beautiful! Congratulations. Incredibly well deserved. Really looking forward to making that falafel.
  • What an honor! i think i would be dancing too, congratulation on that. I really love the red cabbage warp with the falafels, the string adds such a nice festivness to the dish. The whole menue is wonderful !
  • Helen Larsson
    The recipes and the pictures are gorgeous! It so perfect for me being a gluten- and milkintolerant vegetarian. THANK YOU and MERRY CHRISTMAS! Helen
  • I love this! This is my first gluten-free and (mostly) vegan Christmas, so I'm very excited to have some new recipes like these. I'm a lurker mostly, but I wanted to tell you how much I adore your blog. It's one of my very favorites. Merry Christmas!
  • What an incredible opportunity! I would definitely be doing that happy dance too. The menu looks perfect and is so very pretty. I'm sure this was loads of fun to think of recipes for B.A.!
  • Wow, it all looks delicious! I'm definately trying that frozen cake for christmas eve :)
  • Wow, everything looks so delicious! I love the colors!

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