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


  • Amanda
    Tack för fantastiska recept! Men visste du att falafeln blir grön dag två? Tror att det har nåt att göra med solrosfrön och bakpulver... Men grön är ju också en trevlig julfärg ?
  • heriy
    Hello, I can't wait to make this tomorrow but had a quick question on the falafel cabbage wrap. The veggies are kale and roasted tomato? But what are the two herb leafs in th picture. Thank you!!!
  • Kaja
    Hi there! I totally love your blog! Had a quick practical question, if you dont mind.. Which food processor do you use? Im planning to buy one, so asking around people that i assume have one and use it often;)) thanks in advance. Regards, kaja
  • Sylvie
    i'm so glad i made the mustard quinoa, cranberry & kale salad! this. is. SO. GOOD. i'm having a potluck tonight so can't wait to share! thank you!
  • Raiesa
    I just made the saffron felafals but changed it up a little bit - added cumin, tumeric and coriander instead of saffron. Also added parsley. Used them in a burger with lettuce, chilli sauce and yoghurt... it was so beautiful, I'm definitely making it again! LOVE the addition of sunflower seeds. Love your website, just love it all! :)
  • beppie
    wauw i tried the falafel, and love the new texture combination it brings to my palette, unexpectedly a very welcome change thank you!
  • Hi! Can I substitute the buckwheat flour for something else? Do you think semolina would work? ps Your work is great.
  • Victoria
    This. Is mindblowing. Rushing to the supermarket right now to make falafel. Wow.
  • Ayala
    I made the cake today and it was delicious! I replaced the pomegranate with frozen blueberries which came out nice and the color was stunning. Thanks for this scrumptious recipe
  • Natalie
    I know it's a little late to be posting here, but I had to share. First of all, my little sister and I worked together to make the saffron falafel while our parents were out last month. We had to grind the buckwheat flour and tahini on the spot, so the sauce was a little chunky (but the flour was perfect). We loved it - really, really loved it! We made a half recipe and tried to split it, but decided that it was better as three servings. The falafel were slightly crunchy on the outside with a toasted, nutty flavor, and they were soft and pleasant on the inside. The cabbage - which we were wary of, as we both have jaw problems and avoid raw cabbage - brought a fresh crunch that is a MUST if you make this recipe. Thank you so much for making that special night with my little sister possible! (On a side note: we used only 1 TBSP oil in the falafel and we doubled the orange juice and yogurt in the tahini sauce to thin it) In college, I make cinnamon roasted vegetables on a regular basis. They're so easy and quick to throw together, and they use the cheapest vegetables in my area. I have no idea how much a head of cauliflower is, though. Here, they range from two to four pounds each! Romanesco, on the other hand, is one pound only (and far too expensive for me to buy). I like to mix up the vegetable combinations depending on what I have sitting in my fridge. Note that this recipe is best when you have a few sweet potatoes, but then you always wish that you didn't have to save some for later! If the vegetables are all that you're having, it works out to be 1 pound of raw veggies per serving in my opinion (my mom says I'm going to turn orange!). It reheats beautifully, by the way. Thank you for this one, too! Finally, I wanted to tell you about a recipe I made using your cinnamon roasted veggies recipe as a base. I had a pound of cauliflower florets that I needed to use, so I tossed them with four small, smashed garlic cloves, a teaspoon of cinnamon, a half teaspoon olive oil, and three cinnamon sticks (short and fat). I added 4 oz of tofu, cut into 8 cubes halfway through cooking. I them cooked 1 oz of whole wheat linguine. I took half of the cauliflower, garlic (now soft and shredded), and all of the linguine and put it in a bowl with a small handful of celery leaves, a squirt of lemon juice, and a half teaspoon of this wonderful, bold, fruity olive oil that was half-off at the store (hurray for bargain hunting!). It was AMAZING. I think you would really like it! Anyway, thank you again for sharing so many incredible recipes from your home! I use them almost weekly!
  • Darya
    Hello! I made the saffron falafels yesterday, and served them in crisp salad leaves, with a tahini-parsley sauce, grated carrots, and thinly sliced radishes. I was delicious and everybody appreciated the meal, but the baked falafels were slightly on the dry side to my taste. Do you think adding a little olive oil or a teaspoon or so of water might help? I will be trying the pistachio and herb falafels next! Thank you for all your wonderful recipes anyway! Such inspiration. Darya
  • Dears, Realized I haven't thanked you yet - the falafel and cinnamon vegetables rocked our Christmas, together with this: You make me (and definitely my body) happy, thank you and keep up the great work!
  • Hi guys! Yesterday I realized, even though I have made the wonderful quinoa/mustard salad for a while now (and shared it's epicness to some friends), I haven't let you know about how much I love it! So - I LOVE the quinoa salad and when I frist tried the recipe, I ate it three-fours days in a row. It's so lemony and a bit of crunchy and all that lovely kale and... aaamazing! Thanks for sharing! :)
    • Hi Plommonet! Thank you you letting us know :-) We're so glad you liked it, it is also one of our favorites! /Luise
  • Wow, amazing pictures. Tasty and beautiful! Love your blog! Happy Monday! towe.
  • Ulrike
    Hi, I only recently came across your blog and as I am always looking for recipes that are vegetarian and that my family and especially my husband, who just loves his meats, might like, I found this quite great and testet the tarte, the falafel and the salad this weekend. Especially the salad with the raw kale and the mustard dressing was just delicious! Also to bake the falafel instead of deep frying them is great. What I wanted to know is, how much grams/millilites you take for a cup. The tart, I adjusted to my families'taste: As my son does not like mushrooms, I combined the spinach with roastet pinenuts and cherry tomatoes and as it had not to be completely gluten-free, I made a topping from coarse breadcrumbs with a little bit of garlic paste and olive oil and put on top and let it brown in the oven for about 10 minutes. I will keep these recipes!
  • so beautiful, i am having a friend coming over to our home in vermont in february. she is incredible chef and just put out her book( you might know her) i was thinking what to make her, since i do not eat meat and she is gluten intelorant and this menu is perfect! i think i will make everything on here!!

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