Who says party nibbles need to be carnivorous to taste great?

Plant-based eating is having a major moment. A staggering 14 per cent of Britons now follow a meat-free diet. This could be you – or, worse, it could be one of your hordes of festive guests. Whatever your view of their choices, you can’t cast them out into the cold at Christmas. This year – for you or for the good of your guests – make it your mission to get inventive with your vegetarian offering.

Here, we’ve found eight recipes for canapés so delicious that you’ll never miss the meat.

GOATS CHEESE AND CHICORY CROSTINI WITH BALSAMIC PICKLED SHALLOTS




This exquisite recipe from Delicious Magazine may sound scarily ambitious – but bear with it because the result is a serious crowd-pleaser. Everything can be prepared ahead, so you just need to assemble the little bites of joy at the last-minute. Best served with ice-cold champagne.

CHEESE STARS




If you’ve watched any of Nigella’s TV shows, you’ll know how well she gives a party. These cheese stars are typical of her thoughtful, elegant and spoiling approach to entertaining. Of course, the moreish cheesy biscuits can be cut into any shape. But we think the Domestic Goddess’s stars are utterly festive and charming and we wouldn’t change them for the world.

MINI SQUASH AND CHIVE DUMPLINGS




Photograph: Issy Croker/The Guardian
Anna Jones, queen of modern vegetarian cooking, says: “I am that person at a party, desperately following the one tray of vegetarian canapes around, trying to sneak a second mouthful before I get noticed. I can’t count the number of parties I have left a little bleary because there just wasn’t anything to eat. As far as I am concerned, where there’s drink, there should be food – for everyone.” Here mini squash and chive dumplings are so good, you’ll have to fight the meat-eaters for them.

SPICED BLOODY MARY SHOTS




Nothing will get your party started like these jewel-coloured gems. They are basically a cocktail and canape in one, with their warming combo of vodka, spices and tasty tomato juice. Dinky and festive, they strike all the right notes and leave you with plenty of time to frolic amid the mistletoe.

CARAMELISED ONION TARTLETS WITH GOATS CHEESE AND THYME




When Delia and her team made these little tarts to photograph for her Christmas book, they couldn’t stop themselves from eating them. Rich and comforting, the tartlets feel like an invitation to embrace festive indulgence. We can trust Delia on yuletide matters. She basically taught a generation to cook Christmas lunch and her 1990s book, Delia Smith’s Christmas sold 1.5 million copies.

FESTIVE BRUSCHETTA




If you choose to make just one vegetarian Christmas canape this year, we’d fight hard for it to be this one. It comes from the kitchen of Natalie Monson, the US food writer and dietician who writes the blog Super Healthy Kids. With their twinkling pomegranate seeds and Christmassy red and green colourway, her bruschetta are simple to make, delicious to eat and as decorative as can be. Monson envisages them being made and consumed by kids but we’d defy any adult not to devour them.

BAKED POTATO SKINS WITH GORGONZOLA, ROCKET AND MUSTARD FRUIT




Oliver has the right idea when he says: “If there’s one thing the festive season needs it’s a good snack selection. Little mouthfuls of flavour perfection that will have everyone coming back for more.” These little potato skins will wow your guests with their originality and soak up their merriment manfully. The gorgonzola and rocket are glorious toppings in their own right; the mustard fruit will add a spicy sweetness but is definitely optional.

SPICE ROASTED NUTS




Everything that top nutritionist Amelia Freer touches turns to culinary gold. These nuts, enlivened by orange zest, cumin, honey and smoked paprika, are no exception. She says of them: “These are a lovely and quick snack to serve with a glass of ice-cold fizz. A roaring fire and great company go well with them, too. They would also make a sweet present, perhaps packed into a small kilner jar, wrapped up with a festive ribbon.” Yes please.

DARK CHOCOLATE SALTED CLEMENTINES




We have the fragrant Hemsley sisters to thank for these enticing little treats. Those of your guests with a sweet tooth will adore you for making the effort to produce them. (In fact, they are beautifully simple and require very little effort but nobody needs to know that.) They look, smell and taste like the very essence of Christmas.

December 2021

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Becky Ladenburg

Features Editor

As the GWG's features editor, Becky has her discerning finger on the cultural pulse. She's also our go-to expert on the property market.

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