Dish up Christmas with a Greener twist

parsnip and Pumpkin soup. Picture by Paul Johnston at Copper Mango
parsnip and Pumpkin soup. Picture by Paul Johnston at Copper Mango

The Scottish Government has teamed up with chef Mark Greenaway to help the people of South Ayrshire plan Christmas dinner – and prevent waste and save money too.

Christmas and over indulgence often go hand in hand, but by putting a little thought into meal planning and where our food comes from, as well as being inventive with unavoidable leftovers, we can all reduce food waste and have a show stopping, seasonal festive dinner too.

Avoidable food waste costs Scotland over £1 billion – that’s the equivalent of each household throwing £470 from their homes worth of perfectly edible food a year. And, at this time of year, the average Scottish family spends £170 on its big Christmas food and drink shop – a quarter of which ends up in the bin.

To inspire South Ayrshire to host a greener festive dinner, Scottish celebrity chef Mark Greenaway has shared his favourite festive recipes to accompany your traditional Christmas turkey. These recipes include a tasty side dish of Parsnips with Honey and Fennel Seeds and an Iced Christmas Pudding Parfait with Burnt Orange Jelly, which creatively uses leftover Christmas pud. They are also available at

The Greener Scotland website and recipe finder also offers lots of tasty ideas for Christmas dinner, and transforming your left-over turkey, Brussels sprouts and roasties.

To ensure your Christmas dinner is a greener one, follow these simple tips from Mark Greenaway:

· I always plan meals in advance. This allows me to get creative with an in season menu. It’s worth checking what’s already in your cupboards and write a list before shopping. There’s nothing like being organised at this time of year!

· Get to know your local butcher and suppliers. Even in the food industry, often it’s not what you know, but who you know. It can be the best way to secure the best deals and it means you know exactly the provenance of your food.

· Check date labelling and storage information - you may already have groceries or dried goods at the back of that cupboard of yours which you can use over the festive period.

· Let your inner chef come out and think of what meals provide leftovers, or can be created into new dishes. I love using my freezer to store food for future dishes. For example, soup can be frozen into individual portions and used at any stage, and turkey can be used in sandwiches, stews and curries.

· It’s all about portion control - ensure you’re planning sensible portions and leave some for leftovers! In the kitchen it’s all about maximising food.

Cabinet Secretary for Food and the Environment Richard Lochhead said: “Scotland is fast becoming one of the world’s leading food and drink nations and Christmas is a fantastic time to celebrate the amazing produce we have on right on our doorstep.

“Food waste, shockingly, makes up one third of what we throw in the bin – and a lot of what we throw away could have been eaten, costing households £1 billion every year. So clearly by shopping smarter and wasting less we can help our pockets and the environment too. As we go into 2015, the Year of Food and Drink, I challenge you all to make a new year’s resolution to reduce food waste.

“If we stopped avoidable food waste, we’d save around £35 per household per month. By making a few simple changes to the way we plan our meals at Christmas time, we can help transform Scotland into a Good Food Nation which is greener and cleaner now and in the future.

“These recipes are simple, delicious and encourage us to have an in-season festive meal and think creatively about leftovers - I’d encourage everyone to give them a go.”

Ylva Haglund, Zero Waste Scotland’s food waste expert, said: “We can all do our bit to keep food waste to a minimum all year round. But especially at Christmas, when people are making more and bigger meals, there’s an even bigger risk of unnecessary waste. With a bit of planning ahead, families can avoid that this Christmas and these handy hints and recipes will really help.”

For more recipe ideas and top tips for avoiding food waste, eating in season and advice on how to live greener, please visit

Mark Greenaway’s Carrots cooked in Orange and Butter with Star Anise

Serves 4


· 300g carrots

· 250ml orange juice

· 60g caster sugar

· 4 star anise

· Zest of 1 orange

· 150g butter


Peel and cut the carrots into 2 inch batons or alternatively use baby carrots but make sure you scrub them well, add all of the ingredients to a heavy based pan and simmer until the carrots are tender, drain the carrots and reduce the liquor to a syrup consistency and pour the syrup back over the carrots and keep warm until needed

Mark Greenaway’s Parsnips with Honey and Fennel Seeds

Serves 4


· 500g parsnips, peeled

· 100ml honey

· 100ml cold water

· 60g butter

· Fennel seeds

· Large pinch salt

· Small amount of chopped flat leaf parsley


· Cut all the parsnips in half lengthways and remove the core

· Cut each half into quarters

· Place all of the ingredients (except the parsley) into a large non-stick pan and bring to the boil

· Reduce the pan to a simmer

· Cook the parsnips until the honey starts to caramelise

· Once caramelisation starts be very careful as the honey can burn quickly

· Check the parsnips are cooked by piercing them with a tooth pick or small knife, it is ready when it goes through the parsnip without any resistance

· Cover and keep warm until needed

· Serve sprinkled with the chopped parsley

Mark Greenaway’s Brussel Sprouts, Chestnuts and Pancetta

Serves 4


· Brussels sprouts, 4 per person or more if you are a sprout lover!

· 5 slices pancetta cut into squares

· 8 peeled chestnuts

· 20g butter

· A pinch of sea salt


· Cut all your Brussels sprouts in half discarding the outer damaged leaves

· Blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes only, being careful not to overcook them

· In a large non-stick pan on a medium heat, add your squares of pancetta

· Add your Brussels sprouts to the pan along with the butter

· Once the Brussel sprouts have coloured and are fully cooked add the chestnuts and warm through

· Keep warm until ready to use

Mark Greenaway’s Roasted Parsnip and Pumpkin Soup with Parmesan Straws

Serves 8

Ingredients for the soup:

· 750g parsnip, peeled, coarsely chopped

· 600g pumpkin, peeled, deseeded, cut into cubes

· 1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped

· A drizzle of oil

· 450ml chicken stock

· 450ml milk

· 450ml double cream

· Sea salt

· A splash of cream to serve


· Preheat the oven to 185C

· Drizzle the parsnips with a little oil in a large roasting tray and place in the oven

· After 10 minutes add the pumpkin and onion to the tray and place back in the oven for 20 minutes or until all of the vegetables are tender

· Place all of the roasted vegetables into a large pot

· Add in the stock, cream and milk and bring to a gentle simmer for about 10 minutes

· Blend the soup and season to taste

Ingredients for the parmesan straws:

· 350g puff pastry

· Four handfuls grated parmesan

· 1 egg, beaten

· Paprika

· Sesame seeds