How to make your roast friendly for vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free or dairy-free diets

Making a roast dinner and have a guest who’s gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian or vegan? We’ve got some great tips and recipes to make a tasty meal for any of those dietary requirements

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Sunday roast dinners are a thing to celebrate: a family favourite which brings everyone together.

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Though it can get tricky if you need to factor in different dietary requirements. How can you ensure the little girl with her newly-diagnosed dairy allergy can sit comfortably at the table? Or what about the nephew who is a committed vegan?

Luckily, there are loads of ‘free from’ options out there these days: a bit of forward planning and some smart shopping will help ensure you get to eat your meal along with everyone else rather than fretting in the kitchen.

Here, we’ve got ideas for Sunday roasts dinners that are:

  • vegetarian
  • dairy-free
  • gluten-free
  • vegan

We’ll hear from nutritionist Christine Kenny and some of our mums on how to make your ‘free-from’ roast top notch.

1. Vegetarian roast dinners

The great thing about roast dinners is that they’re packed with tasty veggies already. Catering for a vegetarian friend is not a challenge, although it is important to make sure any meat dishes are kept separate from vegetarian ones.

Christine, who has 3 teenage children, says: “If you’ve got meat-eaters and some who are vegetarian, it’s vital there’s no kind of crossover. It’s about making sure there’s no cross-contamination.”

Christine says that switching to a veggie version of the main dish and ensuring the side dishes are kept vegetarian means less work for the cook – as long as you remember to keep meat juices out of other dishes and don’t use animal fats like duck fat or lard when cooking roast potatoes or Yorkshire puddings.

“My middle one has dabbled with being vegetarian so I have done veggie roast dinners,” she says. “Vegetarian sausages are a good source of protein but they need some jazzing up.

“Look at ready-made fake meats, too – as all the trimmings are going to go nicely with that.”

And, as you’ll be putting all that extra work in for the vegetarian options, why not make life a little easier by buying ready-made Yorkshire puddings?

Aunt Bessie’s has lots of different Yorkshire puddings including giant ones, mini ones, ‘carvery style’ ones and even boat-shaped ones to hold all the (veggie or meat) gravy: check out the full range of Yorkshires on Aunt Bessie’s website.

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2. Dairy-free roast dinners

When you’re cooking from scratch it’s easy enough to substitute most dairy products for non-dairy ones – so rub your chicken skin with olive oil instead of butter, and don’t add cream to the mashed potatoes.

You could also try a new variation of a trusted favourite, like making lemon-roasted new potatoes which don’t rely on butter for a rich flavour.

Christine is a registered dietician, and she says it’s vital to take dietary requirements seriously.

“If someone is dairy-free it’s probably because they have a dairy allergy so it’s really important everything is checked – that means all the labels,” she explains.

“Just double check on gravy or stuffing. Sometimes there may be milk proteins in them, especially if it’s a rich gravy.”

Christine, who is based in Altrincham, near Manchester, says if you shop around for dairy-free ingredients you can still cook your favourite recipes, such as using dairy-free cheese to make a sauce.

But sometimes it’s a good idea to think outside the box, especially if you don’t want to fill the fridge with allergy-free ingredients you’re unlikely to use on a regular basis.

“You could just do something completely different,” she says. “Forget about making cauliflower cheese, make roast cauliflower instead.”

Whole roasted cauliflower adds a ‘wow’ factor to the table too, like this show-stopping recipe below which uses stock instead of cheese sauce. Just remember not to add the grated parmesan to garnish.

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3. Gluten-free roast dinners

If you’ve got gluten-intolerant guests sitting down to a roast dinner then it’s also essential to check the packaging.

Christine says: “You are going to have to check any manufactured products, it will need looking into.

“For example, roast potatoes may have been made in a factory with gluten in it. It’s definitely the pre-packaged foods you need to watch out for.”

Sometimes it can help to serve a combination of home-cooked food from scratch and some pre-prepared dishes to make life less stressful in the kitchen.

Aunt Bessie’s, for example, has a clearly labelled gluten-free range which includes duck fat roast potatoes and mini roasties to ensure guests will be catered for, while you focus on preparing the rest of the food.

MFM team member Jenna M is gluten-free and she agrees that meal planning only requires a bit of a tweak.

“With a few small adjustments, it’s still easy to enjoy a roast dinner being gluten-free,” she says.

But she does advise watching out for all the condiments usually served with a roast dinner.

“The most obvious is the gravy – more often than not these are thickened with flour, or they are made from a sachet which usually contains gluten that people might not think to check – especially if they aren’t used to catering for dietary requirements.

“Other things to watch are side sauces which might be put out to enjoy with a roast – brown sauce has barley in it, making it off limits for gluten-free eaters, and I always check other sauces that might be included or served on the table – mint sauce, mustard, and the obvious bread sauce to name a few.”

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4. Vegan roast dinners

Much the same advice goes for a vegan diet as a dairy-free and vegetarian one, and with the rise in popularity of things like Veganuary, it’s becoming much easier to shop and cater for.

If you want a real table attraction, this vegan pie recipe below makes the most of vibrant veggies with a rainbow-layered filling and much of it can be cooked the day before so cooks are less stressed on the day.

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Christine suggests: “Make a nice open pie with filo pastry or a savoury crumble with beans and nuts.

“You can make a nice centrepiece, make it look very pretty with herbs, and that’s going to go very nicely with the rest of the accompaniments.”

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