Before Thanksgiving, I'd loaded up the freezer with the fancy, limited time plant-based holiday roasts. I served the Field Roast Hazelnut and Cranberry Roast en Croute for Thanksgiving, but saved the 365 Meatless Plant-based Roast for Christmas dinner. You've got to buy these when you see them, because once they're gone.... like we have no desire to have a special dinner any other time of the year. Sheesh.
We were pretty happy with the overall quality of the 365 Meatless Plant-based Roast. It's not quite as Instagram-worthy as the Field Roast with its puff pastry jacket, but is a snap to bake, easy to slice and has really good texture and flavor. And, it comes in at a considerably lower cost than the Field Roast version. At the end of the day, it's about how you dress up either product anyway.
Somehow, I'd missed the instructions that advised to bake it from frozen, and had it defrosting in the fridge from the morning. Honestly, I don't think baking it from a thawed state lost anything in terms of taste or quality.
The 365 product has a 'crumb' coating, that once baked, can be just slightly 'tough' but not enough so that I wouldn't buy it again. I would. And, it came with two packets of frozen gravy. That's nice, but for a special meal, I make my own Creamy Chikin Gravy - in this case, with herbs and mushrooms. I tossed the gravy packets into the freezer for those just-in-case times.
Of course, a holiday dinner wouldn't be complete without the requisite cranberries, and I'd bought several bags of the crimson wonders to toss into the freezer. I love cranberry sauce. Even on toast. My cranberry sauce recipe is so easy and can be 'customized' in any number of ways. This time, I added thinly sliced tangerine peels to the sauce. It's tangerine season, and I'll usually save the skins from several - in a bag in the fruit bin - until I have a reason to use them. Like this. They also freeze just fine for later use.
Here's the tip for using citrus peels in a dish like this: slice 'em thin, and boil 'em for about one minute, in enough water to cover, three times. Water over peels. Boil. Drain. Water over peels. Boil. Drain. Water over peels. Boil. Drain.
This is the time tested way to remove any hint of 'bitterness' from the peels. Then, just toss 'em in with your cooking cranberries. This is the same technique that I use when making Orange Marmalade. And, if you can make a nice cranberry sauce that is just 'thick enough' when chilled, you're halfway to making jam from any kind of fruit.
Rather than mashed spuds, I opted for a basic baked Russet potato ... which can't be beat when serving as a vessel for mushrooms and gravy, right? And, for the vegetable, I also went simple and old-school with lightly steamed Haricots Verts (those skinny green beans). I keep a bag of them in the freezer at all times! If you're still buying them fresh, more power to you, but honestly the high quality of modern frozen vegetables has made me a believer! Plus, having them on hand all the time, and not having to 'use 'em before you lose 'em' when fresh in the bin, is a money-saving factor.
Just put them into one of those little fold-up steamer baskets, in a larger, lidded pot, and they are ready in about 5 minutes! I really believe my steamer setup does a much better job than any microwave when it comes to perfect green beans - or asparagus!
If you don't have one of the small steamer inserts, you should remedy that. I often grab a handful of this and that frozen vegetable, toss it in there. Add some salt, pepper and whatever herbs or spices appeal to me in the moment.
Put the lid on, and steam for 3 - 5 minutes. Check for doneness. If you turn the heat off, the vegetables will 'hold' nicely, keeping their texture and color until you have a chance to 'plate' them.
Anyway, the dinner was a success. And, we have leftovers. That's one of the best parts to a meal like this, right?