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Simply Special: festive cranberry and parsnip loaf

As this weekend starts you will either be super organised or you will still have lots on the to-do list.

Cranberry and parsnip loaf
Cranberry and parsnip loaf

Well I would like to add one more thing, this parsnip and cranberry bake.

Whether you have a vegetarian visitor over the next week or so or not, this is a fantastic side dish to adorn the already heaving Christmas table.

We have served this in the Sisters Restaurants over the past few weeks and it has been a great success. We add a lovely wee side parcel to the dish and change it daily. We are currently serving it with pureed pea and tarragon pastries, a splash of vibrant green herb oil and a few sparkling cranberries to bring the festive spirit to your plate.

So you can choose to pop this great loaf onto the table straight out of the tin or arrange it in three nice slices upon a spoonful of mashed tatties with nutmeg, a tiny canapé sized pastry filled with a pureed vegetable and, not to sound too cheffy as that is not really my style, a drizzle of herb oil and a scattering of berries.

Serve this to any vegetarian and you will see the biggest smile on their face as they realise that they do not have to just put up with a bowl of sprouts again.....

Have a wonderful time if you are at home with family or friends this Christmas. I will be back next week to help come up with ideas to clear that fridge and I promise there will not be a turkey sandwich in sight x

Cranberry and parsnip loaf

4 tablespoons of butter plus extra for greasing

3 chopped white onions

A 15g pack of fresh sage (keep 6 leaves to shred for later)

200g of cooked chestnuts

100g of walnut halves

100g of breadcrumbs

Half a teaspoon of ground mace

1 egg, beaten

500g of cranberries

175g of sugar

550g of parsnips (pick long, thin ones and half them lengthways)

1tablespoon of honey

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

1 Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large non-stick pan

2 Add the onions and gently cook for 10 mins until very soft

3 Stir in the sage for 1 minute, then tip the mixture into a large mixing bowl

4 Pulse the chestnuts in a food processor until they are in small bits, then tip these into the bowl with the onions

5 Pulse the walnuts in a food processor until they are in small bits and add them to the bowl

6 Add the breadcrumbs, mace, beaten egg, 1teaspoon of salt and some of the pepper and mix everything together well

7 Tip the cranberries and sugar into a pan and simmer for about 8-10 mins over a high heat. The sugar will melt and cranberries will pop and become saucy - keep bubbling until sticky.

8 Set aside to cool

9 Grease a 900g loaf tin, line with a long strip of baking parchment that covers the bottom and two ends, then grease this as well

10 Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Pop in the parsnips and boil for 3mins the drain well.

11 From the thinner ends cut off lengths of parsnip that fit widthways across the bottom of your loaf tin. Keep going until you have enough to snugly line the base of the tin

12 Roughly chop all of the leftover parsnip and mix into the nut mixture

13 Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4

14 Mix the parsnip lengths with 1 more tablespoon of butter and the honey to coat then fit them into the tin

15 Top with a third of the nut mixture - pack it down well and smooth the surface

16 Spread a third of the cranberry sauce on top, leaving a small gap around the edges

17 Top with the remaining nut mixture and pack down as before. The loaf can be made up to 3 days ahead, then covered and chilled, before continuing.

18 Cover with foil then bake for 1 hr

19 To serve, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small pan and sizzle the reserved sage leaves for a minute

20 Splash water into the remaining cooked cranberries until saucy

21 Loosen around the sides of the loaf with a round-bladed knife if you need to, then turn it out

22 Drizzle the loaf with the sage butter and leaves

23 Serve in slices with extra cranberry sauce

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