A cook's Christmas: The Green Kitchen

Jane Willson
23 December, 2014

David and Luise from The Green Kitchen share their Scandinavian take on a vegetarian Christmas.

As anyone with the remotest knowledge of the Green Kitchen phenomenon and its Scandinavian creators David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl know, theirs is one well-travelled family. The couple’s latest book, Green Kitchen Travels, documents their food-led journey through no fewer than 15 countries and five continents.

But – until this month – they had not visited Australia. David, a magazine art director by day in Sweden, says it was, in part, the birth of their now four-month-old son Isac that prompted the trip. “It felt like we needed to get away for a while and be together as a family – and also see Australia.”

Elsa, David, Luise and baby Isac together in Sydney

The verdict? “It’s just amazing … we’ve only seen Sydney so far but it’s very great for the food interested. So many good healthy cafes and vegetarian places.” David says he and Luisa checked in with their blog and Instagram followers for places to eat. “We got hundreds of people recommending places.” (See the comments here for readers’ tips for Sydney, Melbourne and NZ).

David, incidentally, is talking to Cooked from the Bronte café Orchard Street Dispensary. “Yes, it’s from a tip that we got. It’s a raw food place; really nice.” The family is staying in a Rose Bay apartment. “Kind of upmarket for us – but it’s great.”

Photo from Luise's Instagram

Christmas plans are loose. “Normally in Sweden we meet a lot of family and it’s quite traditional with Christmas trees, especially since we had kids (Daugther Elsa, now five, was seven months when they left Stockholm for their around-the-world adventure). But actually, we haven’t made plans here yet. We have some friends here, although they are Jewish – so not sure how much Christmas we will spend with them!”

David says Christmas in Scandinavia tends to be one of the most meat-heavy holidays of the year. Dinner tables are typically filled with Swedish meatballs, pork, pickled herring and mini sausages. “There is a serious lack of vegetarian dishes,” he says. “Therefore we skip most of the traditional recipes and do our own version of Christmas food.

“The only thing that we hang on to really, is the flavourings – mustard, cinnamon, saffron, honey, orange, clove are common Christmas flavours in our part of the world.”

Saffron, especially, is a favourite. “I’m quite fond of the Swedish saffron bun,” says David. “It’s a very Swedish thing, we use it a lot for Christmas.” He writes on the blog that they’re usually eaten for St Lucia’s Day (December 13) and Christmas, “but any day in December is a good saffron bun day”. Essentially, it’s a bun made with raisins (and saffron!). See the recipe and watch the video here.

Asked to select a few other favourites for a distinctly veg-dominant Christmas meal, this is what David and Luise came up with.

The Green Kitchen's vegetarian-friendly Christmas menu

Crispy red cabbage salad 

Luise always does a thinly shaved crispy red cabbage salad with onion, parsley, oranges & grapes in a honey marinade.

Black quinoa & kale salad

Another popular salad is a mustard and honey flavoured quinoa & kale salad with fresh winter apples.

Baked herb and pistachio falafel 

When it comes to warm dishes we sometimes do a saffron version of our baked falafel recipe from The Green Kitchen.

Holiday stuffed pumpkins

Another great main course to make for Christmas is our holiday stuffed pumpkins from Green Kitchen Travels.

Chilled rice pudding 

We also make this chilled rice pudding inspired by the traditional Danish dish Risalamande.

Flowered granola and Swedish crisp bread

We usually also bake some Swedish crisp bread or a Christmas variety of our flowered granola (with cinnamon) packed in vintage glass jars that we give away as Christmas gifts. 

Check out more of David and Luise's beautiful vegetarian recipes in their books The Green Kitchen and Green Kitchen Travels (you'll find a bunch of vegan and gluten-free options as well).



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