Buffalo Brussels sprouts: A vegetarian Christmas dish that’ll be loved by all

For this festive dish, the sprouts are given as much attention as the turkey and ham get

Vegetarian treat: buffalo Brussels sprouts

Vegetarian treat: buffalo Brussels sprouts

 

I often get asked for festive dishes for vegetarians. There’s always a son, daughter or guest that’ll be coming to dinner who eats a plant-based diet and they’re looking for options other than turkey. In my own family, there have always been at least two vegetarians at the Christmas table each year. So, I love being able to make the most of delicious vegetables, giving them as much attention as the turkey and ham. 

The festive menu can, all too often, be too meat focused, especially here in Cork where spiced beef also features. For me, it’s all about those side dishes, a mix of stuffing, puréed star anise-scented carrots, cauliflower cheese, sprouts, and, of course, roast potatoes.

In the past I’ve made hasselback butternut squash, layered roast vegetable pithivier, and mushroom and nut roast for vegetarian guests. It’s all about getting that right mixture of textures and flavours that elevates a vegetable dish from just a side dish to being the main feature.

Sprouts are truly a seasonal delight. Like tiny little cabbages, they’re so versatile. You can shred them and add to stir fries or make sprout kimchi. You can also purée them or roast them whole with some syrupy balsamic vinegar to balance out that condensed cruciferous flavour. They’re also great with a strong-flavoured dressing to stand up to that sprout flavour, like I’ve done here. It works so well to match distinctive flavours with one another, which I’ve also done here. You give me sprouts, I give you hot sauce and blue cheese. 

I’ve never been a major fan of buffalo wings, but I love everything that goes with them – the searing hot sauce, cooling ranch dressing and tangy blue cheese. Such a great combination and it all goes so well with the crunch of a roasted Brussels sprout.

I’ve tempered the hot sauce a little by adding honey. If you want to make a vegan version of this, use soya yogurt, vegan mayonnaise and maple syrup in the hot sauce in place of honey. There are all sorts of vegan blue cheese substitutes available, but I think toasted flaked almonds make a nice crunchy topping too.

Sometimes when cooking vegan food, it makes more sense to just create something new instead of trying to replicate a meat or dairy dish. Vegan cheeses are no substitute for the real deal, in my opinion, so it’s worth using something else altogether. It’s always an enjoyable challenge that will make you cook more creatively. 

Recipe: Buffalo Brussels sprouts 

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