Meat-Free Christmas: Spiced Baklava

If a traditional veggie nut roast doesn’t float your boat, but you still want something warming and filling in place of your turkey on Christmas Day, there are plenty of other options. One of these is a savoury, spiced baklava. Traditionally a pudding in the Middle East, it’s very easy to convert this recipe into a delicious savoury dish which can be cooked for as many or as few as you need. The recipe below serves 6.


  • Butternut squash x1
  • Onions x3
  •  Leek x 1
  • Chestnuts x 180g
  • Chickpeas x 400g
  • Sultanas x 50g
  • Onions x 3
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic x 2 cloves
  • Cumin seeds x 2 tsp
  • Harissa x 2 tsp
  • Coriander x 1 handful
  • Sesame seeds x 1 tsp
  • White breadcrumbs x 150g
  • Dried chilli flakes x 1 pinch
  • Vegetable stock x 100ml
  • Feta x 200g
  • Sea salt flakes x to taste
  • Filo pastry x 2 270g packets
  • Butter x 75g
  • Runny honey


Prep your ingredients.

Crush the garlic cloves. Crumble the feta. Peel the chestnuts and the squash. Finely chop the coriander, onions, leek, and chestnuts. Dice the squash. Heat the oven to 200/fan, 180/gas.

Bake the squash

Put the diced squash into a suitable baking tray, with olive oil and plenty of seasoning. Toss so that it is well seasoned on all sides. Bake for ten minutes, and then add the chickpeas, cumin, and harissa. Mix well and bake for a further 20 minutes.

Mash it all in

By  now, the squash and chickpeas should be tender (if they are not, replace in the oven until they are). Mash the squash and chickpeas with a fork when cool enough to do so. Now, turn the oven down to 180/fan or 160/gas.

Cook up the rest

In a pan, cook the onions, leek, and garlic in olive oil until soft. Stir half the contents of your pan into the squash and chickpea mixture. Put the remaining half into a bowl with the chestnuts, breadcrumbs, stock, coriander, and sultanas. Mix well and season to taste.

Assemble the pastry

Trim the pastry so that it fits a deep roasting dish. Melt the butter and brush it over the bottom of the dish, before lining the dish with the pastry.

Layer up the baklava

Tip about a third of the squash tin, a third of the chestnut bowl, and a third of the crumbled feta into the pastry. Add a layer of buttered filo on top. Continue doing this until you have filled the tin (or run out of baklava mixture). Top with a final layer of buttered filo pastry.

Cut a design into the baklava

A traditional baklava pattern is a kind of cross-hatching which runs all the way through to the bottom layer. But there’s no reason why you shouldn’t carve something festive instead! When you’ve finished, sprinkle the sesame seeds on top.


Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the baklava turns a deep gold on top. Serve with a drizzle of honey, a sprinkle of chilli flakes, and sea salt to taste.

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