Christmas parsnip loaf

This loaf is a perfect Christmas dish containing all the typical seasonal ingredients: cranberries, chestnuts, sage and parsnips.  It’s easy to prepare the day before, just cover and chill until ready for the final stage of baking.  I use ground almonds as a gluten free option to breadcrumbs although the latter probably helps hold it together better, so your choice here!


For a 900g loaf tin to serve 4 generous portions:

3 tbsp butter
3 red onions, chopped
8-10 sage leaves, torn, plus 8 extra leaves for the sage butter
220g packet of cooked chestnuts
130g walnuts or pecans
100g ground almonds (or 100g breadcrumbs)
1/2 tsp allspice or mace
2 beaten eggs
600g cranberries
120g caster sugar
550g parsnips, preferably long and thin


Melt 1 tbsp butter in a large pan and cook the chopped onion over a gentle heat for about 15 minutes until soft.  Stir in the chopped sage until it slightly crisps, then transfer to a large mixing bowl.

The nuts:

Pulse the chestnuts in a food processor until chopped  but you want to have some texture, not nut dust!  Repeat with the walnuts/pecans.  Transfer these to the same mixing bowl then add the ground almonds (or breadcrumbs), allspice or mace, the beaten eggs, some sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  Mix well.

The cranberries:

Put the cranberries and caster sugar into a pot and simmer for about 10 minutes over a medium to high heat.  As the sugar melts and cranberries pop it will become thicker and eventually sticky. Set aside to cool.

Grease your 900g loaf tin. Line it with baking paper, covering the base and ends.

The parsnips:

Halve lengthways then boil for about 3 mins and drain well.  Cut and layer the parsnips so they fit snugly (see ‘layering’ section next).  Any left over parsnip pieces can be chopped and added to any empty spaces, or roughly chopped into the onion/nut mixture.

Layering your loaf:

Heat the oven to 160 C (320F).  After a bottom layer of snug soldier parsnips, add 1/3 of the onion/nut mixture and press down firmly.
Next, add 1/3 of the sticky cranberry mix, leaving a small gap round the edges to stop it leaking when cooking, and thus sticking to the baking paper.
Repeat the last of the parsnips followed by another 1/3 of nut mix and another 1/3 of cranberry.  Finish with the final nut mix, pressing down firmly again.  Put the final 1/3 of sticky cranberry into a pan, adding some water and heating until it is more like a sauce.

Cover with baking paper then bake in the 160C oven for one hour.  Remove the baking paper from the top for the last 10 minutes to slightly crisp.

To serve:

Melt the remaining 2 tbsp butter in a small pan and sizzle those sage leaves you put aside at the start, until they crisp.

Using a rounded knife gently loosen the sides of the baked loaf and turn out onto a plate.  Drizzle with the sage butter and leaves and serve in slices, with extra cranberry sauce on the side.

Have a great Christmas!


Spiced carrot and red chard pancakes

This is a delicious vegan dish, a combination of shredded carrot pancakes with roasted spiced carrot – carrot upon carrot! – topped with a mint-garlic-lime juice df yoghurt.

Inspired by Nikki Webster’s scrummy recipe I added red chard to mine here below for extra colour and antioxidant goodness.  Spinach or kale, cavalo nero or even something like radicchio with its slightly sharp tang, would be delicious.  Really, the choice is yours.
Antioxidants are on my mind big-time due to my current auto immune and post-chemo clients not to mention the background noise of Covid-19, so I multiplied the antioxidant ooomph that spices offer and added lots of ginger, turmeric and garlic.

These gram spiced pancakes are a fabulous base for all sorts of other meals.  I topped them with a mixed rainbow salad last week and last night ate them with fish (cumin and garam masala rubbed on hake before grilling).
It’s so good to wriggle a recipe into the shape that suits your individual taste – and the occasion.
Have fun, and I hope you enjoy this dish 🙂


Serves 2

Spiced carrots:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 – 1 tsp chilli flakes
1 large or 2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
4 cms knob ginger, grated
3 medium carrots, diced into small cubes
6 large red chard leaves (I finely sliced some of the stalks as well); or 2 large handfuls of young spinach or kale, roughly chopped
250ml filtered water
4 tbsp desiccated coconut, lightly roasted
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Carrot pancakes:

140g gram flour
1 tsp sea salt
2 garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch chilli flakes – optional of course!
80g grated carrots
handful fresh coriander, chopped
300 ml luke warm water
2 tbsp olive oil

Yoghurt Topping:

6 tbsp plain coconut- or almond-based yoghurt (I used Coconut Collaborative’s df)
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp virgin olive oil
1-2 garlic, squeezed
4 tbsp chopped fresh mint (about 5 medium leaves per tbsp) or 3 tbsp dried
sea salt to taste

Mix these together and your topping is done!



Carrot pancakes:

Mix all the dry ingredients, add the pressed garlic, olive oil and water.  Blend well then stir in the chopped coriander and grated carrots.  Set aside for 15-20 minutes whilst you start the carrot curry below.

To cook the pancakes, add some olive oil to your non-stick pan then use a soup ladel to pour in your mixture (you’ll figure out the size you want after the first ‘trial’ which is always a good tester for size and taste).
Once bubbles form in the pancake and the edge darkens a little, ease the spatula beneath it and turn.  After the first one your pan usually finds its mojo.
Cover with a cloth or place in a low heat oven whilst you make a total of about 8 small pancakes.


The carrot curry:

Heat the oil then add the mustard and cumin seeds. When they start popping add the other spices and stir before frying the chopped onions till they soften.  Then comes the garlic and ginger followed by the diced carrots and water.  Cover and leave to simmer for about 10 mins, adding your chopped chard or greens so they wilt but don’t get cooked to nothing!

Meanwhile….dry roast the coconut in a pan until it just colours then stir it into the carrot-chard mix and season with sea salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon a generous amount onto the pancake base and dollop the mint yoghurt on top.  Add extra mint for decoration (I forgot in this photo!)