Anouk's Christmas Dinner

by Anouk Booneman

I am sharing my Christmas menu with you. It’s an easy one and relatively light. It can be made in advance, and I think that it will please omnivores and vegans alike.


Parsnip chestnut bisque with mulled wine-spiced onion

Wild mushroom, cranberry, and sausage plait

Jose Andres’s brussels sprout salad

Bitter green with date vinaigrette

Poached pears in Blackberry wine

I have often made the following soup. It’s a really easy recipe from the book Vedge by Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby. They also have a vegetable restaurant in Philadelphia with a great looking menu. The onion confit makes it truly special. The soup and the onion can be made up to two days in advance. Just reheat before serving.

Chestnut, parsnip **bisque** with mulled wine-spiced onion (Vedge, Rich Landau, Kate Jacoby)

Serves four to six
2 TBSP olive oil
2 cups slivered onions
2 pounds parsnip, peeled and roughly chopped
12 cups vegetable stock (Use bought or homemade. Keep it simple. You can use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock.)
2 cups peeled , chopped chestnut

Chestnuts can be found in supermarkets around the holidays. You can buy fresh ones and boil and peel them for this recipe. I used peeled and cooked ones that I found at the supermarket. I added those at the end of the cooking time. You can substitute it with Japanese sweet potatoes. Those have a reddish purple skin and pale yellow flesh.


2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (vegan) sour cream

To start the base for the soup, heat the olive oil in a large stockpot until it starts to ripple. Add the slivered onions and cook stirring until brown for another 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the stock, chestnuts (if using ready made add those at the end), salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the parsnips are fork tender 12 to 15 minutes.

Stir in the (vegan) sour cream and remove the pot from the heat

Transfer the soup in batches in a blender and puree, emptying each batch into another large pot. Once all of the soup has been blended, put the pot over very low to keep warm.

* Parsnips are a great source of fiber, vitamin C,K, folate,potassium and manganese. They are rich in polyphenols and antioxidants. Their cream colored flesh has a sweet, nutty, flavor.

** A Bisque is a kind of soup. Bisques are so named because of their smooth, velvety texture, which is achieved by blending the soup with a heavy cream. In this version, we use a (vegan) sour cream.

Mulled spiced onion

1 TBSP of olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup red wine

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over high heat until it ripples. Add the chopped onions and cook, stirring until brown about 4 minutes

Reduce the heat to medium low, then stir in the salt, pepper, sugar cinnamon cloves and nutmeg. Let the spices cook with the chopped onions and cook stirring until brown about 4 minutes

Reduce the heat to medium low, then stir in the salt, pepper, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Let the spices cook with the chopped onions for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning

Add the red wine and reduce completely, leaving no liquid in the pan with the onions 5 to 7 minutes; then continue to cook the onions until they are very soft about 15 minutes more

To serve, ladle the hot soup into bowls and garnish with the onion confit.


The following recipe looks fantastic and is really easy to make. I made one last week and it disappeared within 15 minutes. It can be made in advance up until the baking step.

Wild mushroom, cranberry and sausage plait
(From the magazine Vegan Food and Living)

30 g/1 oz (1/2 cup) dried wild mushrooms
I used “fruit of the fungi” . Those can be purchased online through The New York mushroom company is a small family owned business in Central New York. Their mushrooms are preservative free. They also sell mushroom powders and teas. 

600 g/21 oz (3 cups) (vegan) sausages
I used sausages from Impossible foods. Most supermarkets will carry a vegan sausage brand.

100 g /3.5 oz (2/3 cup) dried cranberries

1 tsp thyme leaves finely chopped

75 g/2.5 oz (1/2 cup) chopped roasted hazelnuts
I can’t always find hazelnuts in the supermarket, and purchase them from Thrive online. You can swap for walnuts. 

1 sheet puff pastry
I have good results with Pepperidge farm, available in the supermarket.

1 flax egg (1 tbsp flaxseed mixed with 3 TBSP water)
Or use a regular egg yolk

1 TBSP mixed seed

Put the mushrooms in a small bowl, cover with boiling water and set aside to soften for 15 minutes, then drain and roughly chop.

In a large bowl mix together the sausage meat (discard the skins) dried cranberries, thyme, hazelnuts chopped mushroom and plenty of seasoning, Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pasty to a rectangle (10 x14) and transfer it to a large sheet of baking parchment . Brush beaten flaxseed (or egg yolk) all over the pastry. Shape the sausage meat into a neat log about 3 inch wide and position it lengthways down the middle of the pastry. With a sharp knife cut 2 inch wide slits in the pastry running 1/2 inch away from the sausage meat to the edges of the pastry slanting the slits towards you starting at the end furthest from you. Fold the pastry strips over the sausage meat alternating sides to give a plait effect. Trim the short ends to neaten so the pastry is flush with the sausage meat at both ends. Brush the pastry all over with (flax) egg, then sprinkle the mixed seeds on top. Transfer to a large baking tray still on the parchment and chill for 30 minutes.

Prepare to end of step 4 up to one day ahead. Complete the recipe to serve

Preheat the oven to 400 and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until deep golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.


I had this salad at Bazaar, one of Jose Andres’s restaurants. It is light and vibrant. At Bazaar it is served with lemon “air” (foam) on top. The recipe I used is adapted from The Washington Post.

Jose Andres’s Brussels sprout salad with sherry vinegar dressing

Serves 4

For the Sherry dressing:
2 tablespoons Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
Sea salt to taste

For the salad:
2 Pounds Brussels sprouts pulled apart to just leaves
12 dried apricots, diced 1/4" and rehydrated
3/4 cup peeled, cored and diced granny smith apples diced Granny Smith apples
12 green grapes, halved lengthwise
2 TBSP finely chopped fresh chives for garnish
Edible flowers for garnish (optional)
Microgreens for garnish (optional)


Whisk together the sherry vinegar, olive oil and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

Place the apricots in a small bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let them sit until they plump, 10 to 20 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the apricots onto a paper towel to dry.

Separate and detach all the leaves from each brussels sprout. Using a paring knife to trim the stem, remove one layer of leaves, then trim the stem further, removing another layer, continuing until all the leaves are removed. Discard the stems.

In a pot of boiling salted water, blanch Brussels sprout leaves for 1.30 minutes. Drop into an ice bath, cool completely. Remove from water, strain well and set aside.

Combine the Brussels sprouts in the bowl with the apricots, apple, grapes and fresh herbs. Drizzle with a bit of the Sherry dressing and adjust the salt to taste.

(Bitter) greens with date vinaigrette

For this salad use a mix of your favorite greens. I like to use a mix of romaine, Belgian endive and radicchio. I use a sweeter dressing to balance the bitterness. The following recipe is enough for four people. You can make a big batch ahead and use as needed.

1 garlic clove grated
Juice from 1/2 lemon
5 tsp date syrup (maple syrup or honey can be use as well)
1/4 cup extra virgin oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
black pepper
Combine all the ingredients.

I love poached pears. They are easy to make in advance. Leftovers can be eaten the next day for breakfast.

Poached pears in blackberry wine (Magazine-Vegan Food and Living)

300 ml 1 1/4 cup (vegan) red wine
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1.5 cup blackberries
6 pears
1 cinnamon stick
6 cloves
1 tbsp cornstarch

Choose a pan that the pears will fit snugly into, then add the wine, water and sugar to the pan. Add half the blackberries and heat gently for 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Crush the blackberries with a potato masher, press the syrup through a sieve and discard the blackberry seeds, then return the syrup to the pan.

Peel the pears leaving the stalks on, then add the blackberry wine with the cinnamon and cloves. Simmer gently for 10-15 minutes turning the pears until evenly colored

Lift the pears out of the wine and transfer to a bowl. Mix the cornflour with a little water in a cup until a smooth paste. Stir into the blackberry wine, then bring to a boil, stirring until thickened and smooth. Pour the syrup over the pears, then add the remaining blackberries and leave to cool.

Bon Appetit and may your holidays be happy and healthful!


Anouk Booneman

Anouk is co-founder of Spring Into Health, was a baker at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies and a language teacher before moving to Clifton Park. She believes that industrialized eating has created major health crises all over of the globe and that food can be the strongest medicine. She is also a yoga instructor. Click on her pictures for her articles


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