Traditional Christmas meal looks different in different countries, cultures and families. In the Nordics too, there are vast differences in terms of what people have for Christmas meal but we wanted to introduce you to some of the traditional classics in Finland. The classics that we’ve recreated without any animal produce (i.e. they are vegan friendly). These recipes are sure to add some hearty Nordic flavours on to your Christmas menu.
If you are not familiar with the Nordic Christmas food then here is a quick round up in terms of how it might look like.
It all starts with a rice porridge that you usually have in the morning of the Christmas Eve, which is actually the ‘main day’ in the Nordics as opposed to Christmas day in many other countries. It is an old tradition to hide one slivered almond in the porridge and it’s believe to bring good luck to the person who gets it on their plate. This year we made the traditional rice porridge with turmeric and cinnamon and it turned out delicious so here’s the recipe.
OVERNIGHT RICE PORRIDGE
• 200g short grain rice
• 1 tsp salt
• 200ml water
• 1 litre almond milk
• 1-2 cinnamon stick
• 1 tbsp turmeric
• 1-2 tbsp. maple syrup+ 1 slivered almond for a Finnish Christmas tradition
Bring water to boil in a pan and add then add rice and salt
Let boil until the water has almost completely absorbed into the rice
Add almond milk, cinnamon stick and turmeric and let simmer for 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally
Optional: Hide 1 almond into the porridge before serving if you want to see who get’s the luck this Christmas
Serve with maple syrup or with the fool
The traditional Christmas meal is enjoyed on Christmas Eve and it can be split into 3 courses; starters, mains and desserts.
As a starter many families lay out a smorgasbord of different cold dishes and often fish is many different forms. We’ve recreated some of the traditional favourites making them completely vegan friendly but still full of the same flavours that many of us Nordic people love and recognise. Gravlax is very common in the Nordic Christmas table but you should really try our version, the Vegan Carrot gravlax, which will blow your mind. Enjoyed with the home-made archipelago bread and seaweed caviar mousse it’s sure to be a winner at the Christmas table.
• 4 Large carrots (do not peel them)
• 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar/white wine vinegar
• Bay leaf
• 0.5kg Coarse sea salt
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
Pre-heat oven to 200C
Prepare a baking tray by layering the bottom of the tray with course sea salt
Prepare the carrots by rinsing them but do not peel. While still wet, place them on to the salt bead.
Pour more salt on top of the carrots making sure that they are nestled in the salt, covered from all sides
Place into the oven to bake for 1.5 hours
Once done, allow the carrots to cool so that you can handle them. Brush off any salt and then peel the carrots. Then slice them with a mandolin, sharp knife or a Nordic cheese cutter into thin slices
For the marinate, whisk together the olive oil, liquid smoke and apple cider vinegar
Drizzle over the carrots and toss well to coat.
Place the slices in the refrigerator ideally for two days to allow the flavour to deepen and mellow.
When it comes to mains, it’s often heavy on hearty stews and vegetable casseroles. Pork and meatballs are often made for Christmas too but we replaced the meat dishes with many delicious mushroom based dishes and more. Here’s one of the absolute favourites.
• 500g button mushrooms
• 1 carrot
• 1 yellow onion
• 2 garlic cloves
• 200ml full bodied red wine
• 2 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 vegetable stock cube
• 200ml water
• 2 tbsp. tomato paste
• 2-3 tbsp. tamari soy sauce
• 1 tsp thyme
• 1-2 tsp salt
• 1-2 tsp black pepper
• 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
• 50g pickled pearl onions
Chop the mushrooms in half and carrot into bite size pieces
Finely chop the onion and mince the garlic cloves
Prepare the vegetable stock by bringing 200ml water to boil with the vegetable cube. Stir occasionally so the cube dissolves.
Heat up 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a skillet and add in the mushrooms. Fry the mushrooms for a couple of minutes until they begin to darken but not yet release any liquid. Remove from the pan, mix in 1 tbsp. of tamari sauce and let rest.
In the same pan, add another tbsp. of olive oil and the carrot and onion. Stir in the thyme, salt and black pepper and cook until the onions are slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.
Add the mushrooms into the onion mixture together with the red wine. Turn the heat all the way up to reduce the liquid by half.
Add in the tomato paste, 1-2tbsp. tamari sauce and vegetable broth and reduce the heat. Let the stew simmer for about 20minutes.
Stir in the all purpose flour for a thicker consistency and finally, add the pearl onions.
Taste to adjust seasoning if needed and let simmer for 10 more minutes. Top with chopped chives.
There is probably the most variation when it comes to desserts that are being served for Christmas. Cakes, bakes and biscuits of all sorts are all common desserts. This year, we wanted to keep it light and easy considering also all the hearty dishes we already have on the menu. So we made a traditional Finnish Christmas fool with plums. It’s not too sweet but just about right after a big meal. And if you wanted to fancy it up a little bit you could add some coconut cream on top, for example.
• 200g dried plums/ prunes
• 1 litre water
• 2 tsp sugar
• 500ml water
• 2 tbsp corn flour
• vanilla essence
• coconut cream
Add water, prunes and vanilla to a sauce pan
Bring to boil and let simmer for 20 minutes
Mix corn flour in 2 tbsp of cold water and pour the mixture to the pan stirring the fool constantly
Taste and add sugar when needed. Enjoy with coconut cream
Download our Christmas bundle for 15 delicious recipes to choose from.
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Happy Christmas/Hyvaa Joulua/God Jul!
Katja & Keijo