Vegetarian Stuffing with Chestnuts, Pecans and Cranberries
These Vegetarian Stuffing balls are crammed with flavour and texture. Chestnuts, both chopped and pureed, add a sweet creaminess which binds the other ingredients together. Roasted pecans add a nutty crunch and dried cranberries, one of my new favourite ingredients, at a sweet-sharp hit of fruitiness. I use fresh nutmeg to add a seasonal spiciness to the recipe.
They are a great addition to a big, celebratory roast dinner. Try them with home-made Bread Sauce and Fresh Cranberry Sauce and tell me I’m wrong! Think nutty crunchiness, creamy richness and zesty, fruity sweetness.
Why bother making Vegetarian Stuffing?
In addition to the flavour, there are lots of good things about this recipe. First off, it is a vegetarian side dish which will also appeal to meat-eaters. My family is a mixture of carnivores, vegetarians and pescatarians so I have a ready-made focus group for my recipes. The verdict was that these are pretty much as good as any meat-based alternative. Therefore, you can put them on everyone’s plate – cosying up to the turkey or the nut-roast – and they work just as well.
They are also really easy to make – just a matter of mixing the various ingredients together – and can be prepared in advance. Just make up the stuffing balls and keep covered in the fridge until you are ready to cook them. They only take 15 minutes to cook.
They are also pretty versatile. Although I came up with this recipe as accompaniment to a roast dinner, I sometimes make them as a vegetarian lunch or snack option. They are also great cold as part of a packed lunch or winter picnic.
This Cranberry Ice Cream is made with Fresh Cranberry Sauce which gives it the added flavours of white wine, orange and cinnamon. Using Fresh Cranberry Sauce, adds an extra dimension to this ice cream and makes it the perfect seasonal pudding.
Made from left-over Cranberry Sauce….
So, there are two ways you can go with this Cranberry Ice Cream. First off, if you have made some Fresh Cranberry Sauce to eat with your Christmas dinner and you have some left over, you can use any that is left over to make this ice cream. If you go down that route – and it is super-easy to make your own cranberry sauce – then making this ice cream is a doddle.
… or specially-made Cranberry Sauce
However, if you do not happen to have any surplus Fresh Cranberry Sauce to hand – and maybe you don’t really fancy it with your Christmas dinner (or maybe its not even Christmas) – you can make a batch to use as an ingredient in puddings. I have two excellent cranberry-based puddings on this blog each of which conveniently uses half a batch of my sauce recipe. One is this Cranberry Ice Cream and the other is my Cranberry Pavlova. Both are great at Christmas or New Year, when there are a lot of fresh cranberries about, and I think they are a brilliant alternative to heavy Christmas pudding! They are both sweet and creamy with the fruity tang of cranberries.
This Cranberry Ice Cream is made with Fresh Cranberry Sauce, which not only includes cranberries but is also flavoured with white wine, orange and cinnamon, adds an extra dimension and makes it the perfect seasonal pudding.
Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a bowl until the mixture looks paler and resembles a mousse.
Put the cream in a saucepan and heat gently. Do not allow to boil – it will be the right temperature when you are just about able to bear to dip a finger in it!
Pour the cream into the bowl containing the egg yolks and sugar, whisking all the time.
Transfer the combined mixture into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water or, ideally a double-boiler, as you need to reheat it very gently.
The mixture will gradually thicken until it looks like a custard (which is what it is). Stir regularly to make sure it does not stick while it is thickening.
Remove the thick custard from the heat and transfer into a bowl.
If you are using my home-made Fresh Cranberry Sauce, you will need to use a food processor or hand-held blender to chop up the whole berries and create a rough paste before adding to the custard. If you are using smooth, ready-made Cranberry Sauce, you can just stir it into the custard.
Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature and then transfer to the fridge to become thoroughly chilled.
When you are ready to make the ice-cream, transfer to your ice-cream maker and use according to your machine’s instructions. If you do not have an ice-cream maker, you can place the mixture in a freezer-proof container, put in the freezer for several hours until half-frozen. Whisk the mixture and then return to the container and replace in the freezer until totally frozen.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own Fresh Cranberry Sauce – and it honestly is very quick and easy – you can use ready-made Cranberry Sauce although the flavour will not be as good unless you can find one that includes cinnamon, orange and white wine!