Last week we ordered ourselves a Christmas Dinner Fruit & Vegetable Box from the lovely team at VEG BOX MCR, and alongside the box we also received 2 recipe cards – giving us a couple of ideas of what we could do with all of that fresh local produce.
Well, I’ve decided to go one further and look at the best ways to pimp up your Christmas Dinner this year to make your Nan proud of you and your dad cry himself to sleep with jealousy of your culinary skills…
Vimto-Braised Red Cabbage
A firm favourite of city centre roast dinner experts at The Refuge, braising your red cabbage in Manchester’s very own Vimto adds a bit of sweetness to your roast dinner – perfect for the often bland and dry (if it’s my mum anyway) turkey. This would also work with Ribena but nobody likes Ribena so stick with Vimto – oh, and make sure it’s full-fat Vimto, none of this ‘No Added Sugar’ rubbish.
It takes a while to make it but once it’s done – you can keep it in the fridge until Boxing Day when you have a massive turkey sandwich with all the leftovers. Take the red cabbage out of your Veg Box, slice thinly and pop in an oven-proof dish. Add a finely chopped red onion, 50ml of Vimto, 3tsp of Balsamic vinegar. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven (at 150ºC) for around 2 hours.
Chilli Lime Roast Potatoes
I didn’t know this until around a month or so ago, but adding citrus to your roast potatoes makes them a million times better and also makes them crispier! Pair the lime with chilli and you’ve got yourself some truly wonderful roasties which will just jump out at you off a plate of beige.
Everyone has their own personal tricks for the best roasties so I’ll leave you to do you, but if you’re looking for advice – heat up the oil in the roasting tin before adding the potatoes, fluff them up with a vigorous shake, add a sprinkling of semolina, squeeze the lime juice on and finish with chilli powder. Roast for 45 minutes for the best roasties ever!
Sage Butter Roasted Cauliflower
When it comes to a roast dinner and cauliflower, you’re only really ever faced with the classic Cauliflower Cheese, which, although rather delicious, I feel doesn’t really fit with the whole aesthetic of it. It just seems a little bit out of place to me. For a more fitting twist on the cauliflower, and a fantastic option for any vegetarians or vegans in your family, there’s nothing better than roasting.
There’s LOADS of ways to do it, with harissa, pesto, truffle oil, but my favourite is to chop the cauliflower into rather large chunks, melt some butter with some fresh sage and baste it all on. Throw in the oven for around 65 minutes – basting it as it cooks every 20 minutes or so.
Leek & Smoked Garlic Mash
One of the things you can do with your Christmas Box from VEG BOX MCR is ‘boost’ it for an extra £17.50. Basically, adding another box on top full of some rather indulgent and exotic ingredients. One of which is smoked garlic which is perfect for some seriously sexy mashed potatoes. Pretty much every single chef in the world will agree that the most important ingredient for outstanding mashed potatoes is butter – so be prepared to use A LOT!
Chop up the leeks, fry them up slowly (in butter of course) until they’re golden and starting to caramelise. Take your boiled potatoes, mash them up with the leeks, loads of butter and a splash of milk or cream, adding a couple of cloves of smoked garlic while you do so.
Honey Roasted Carrots
A true classic here and one which I think most people do all the time now. Boiled carrots are a rather distasteful throwback to the olden days, where, just like sprouts they were boiled to death, falling apart when you stick your fork in them. Well, not any more thank you very much.
Take your lovely carrots out of your Veg Box, give them a peel and chop them length ways into batons. There’s no need to boil them first, just shove them into a roasting tin (with hot oil) and drizzle on some honey – the more expensive ones will be the best. Vigorously shake the carrots in the oil and honey until each one is covered and roast for 25 minutes. Some people like to add Dijon mustard in there too – including me.
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Chestnuts
Sprouts have always had a bad reputation – mostly because back in the day people would just boil them to an inch of their life and they would stink the house out with an odour that can only be described as ‘old lady farts’. Well, we won’t be having ANY of that this year – or ever again – because sprouts are absolutely delicious when they’re roasted with some chopped up bacon and roasted chestnuts.
Celebrity chef Ed Baines likes to lightly fry par-boiled sprouts in the bacon (and plenty of butter) before adding the chestnuts. Continue to fry for five minutes, then add to a roasting tray and leave in the oven until golden and slightly crispy.
The special Christmas Box (£25) from VEG BOX MCR features everything you’re going to need for your Christmas Dinner including…
2kg Cheshire Potatoes, 1kg Carrots, 1kg Parsnips, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Red & White Onions, Kale, Broccoli, Leeks, Red Cabbage, Oranges, Mixed Grapes, Limes & Lemons.
You can also ‘Boost Your Box’ for an extra £17.50 to also include: bunched beetroots, smoked garlic, bouquet garni, 2 punnets of berries, bramley apples, cranberries, chestnuts, medjool dates and organic ceylon true cinnamon sticks.
All of the fruit and vegetables from VEG BOX MCR is super-fresh and sourced from a variety of local farmers and suppliers in Cheshire and Greater Manchester, and it’ll all be delivered fully plastic-free!
To get your Christmas Veg Box in time for Christmas Day, you’ll need to pre-order before the 20th December (delivery dates are 23rd & 24th Dec) – which you can do by emailing (below) or messaging them on Facebook or Instagram…