This traditional vegetarian Christmas pudding recipe has a healthy secret - cavolo nero! Although it can't be tasted, the leafy green cousin of kale adds nutritious bulk to the pudding. Try this cavolo nero Christmas pudding as a delicious alternative over the holidays.
Recipe commissioned by Discover Great Veg.
Christmas pudding is a boiled pudding traditionally served at Christmas in the UK, Ireland and has been embraced further abroad. It's a rich and filling mixture of dried fruit, nuts and spices. It's often brought to the table flaming with lit alcohol, and is served with custard or cream.
Growing up, I remember my mum always making a Christmas pudding on Stir up Sunday. The house would fill with the heady aroma of spices as the pudding simmered on the stovetop. That bubbling bowl, wrapped in foil and tied up with string like the first gift of the season, holds so many memories.
Then there's the sight of my dad pouring alcohol over it and lighting it as we all marvelled at the ceremony while the blue flame flickered.
Traditionally, the day to make the pudding is the last Sunday before advent. The process involves soaking dried fruit in alcohol, then stirring it all together - hence the name Stir up Sunday. Imagine households across the country all preparing their festive treat on the same day.
Cavolo Nero Christmas Pudding
Why add cavolo nero to your pudding? Well, we all know that those leafy greens are good for you. But they also help to bulk the pudding out a bit so replacing some of the heavy dried fruit with cavolo nero is a great way to lighten it up a little.
Christmas is also a time of, let's admit it, a lot of indulgence. So sneaking a little hidden veg into desserts is a great way to get a little goodness with your dessert.
You can't taste the cavolo nero in the pudding, as it's overpowered by the fruit, spices and rum. So if you don't admit it, nobody would ever know.
Vegetarian Christmas Pudding
Traditionally, Christmas pudding is made with suet, a raw animal fat similar to lard but they're from different animals.
However, you can easily make your Christmas pudding just as well with butter so it's vegetarian. And it's just as delicious. This cavolo nero Christmas pudding recipe is vegetarian.
- Try adding in a little freshly grated nutmeg, ground ginger or ground allspice.
- Substitute vegetable shortening instead of butter.
- Make it a dairy-free Christmas pudding: swap butter for dairy-free margarine.
- Make it a gluten-free Christmas pudding: swap flour for gluten-free flour, and gluten free breadcrumbs.
- Swap the spiced rum for brandy, whiskey or sherry
- The alcohol cooks off, but you could use apple juice instead.
- Be sure to keep checking the water level while the pudding is steaming and top it up when necessary.
- Use your favourite dried fruits: cranberries, currants, sultanas, apricots, figs, prunes etc..
- Try swapping lemon for orange, tangerine or clementine
- If the creamed butter mixture begins to curdle, just stir in a tablespoon of the flour.
Discover Great Veg
I’ve been working with Discover Great Veg over the past few months to help showcase how versatile, healthy and delicious cavolo nero can be.
First grown in Italy in 600BC, for most of the year British cavolo nero is now grown in the rich soil of Lincolnshire. A close cousin of kale, it can be used much of the same way - in soups, stews, casseroles, salads and... Christmas pudding!
Keep your eyes on the Discover Great Veg site for my latest recipes and to discover everything you need to know about Great Veg, cavolo nero, kale, leeks and spinach, from how they are grown to delicious ways to enjoy them and what they each offer as part of a healthy balanced diet.
How to make Cavolo Nero Christmas Pudding
Step 1 - Mix the dried fruit, lemon zest and juice and rum together, cover and leave to soak overnight.
Step 2 - Steam the cavolo nero for a few minutes until tender. Drain, rinse and squeeze out any excess moisture then chop very finely. Add to the bowl of dried fruit, along with the almonds and mix well.
Step 3 - Put the butter and sugar into a large bowl and cream together with an electric mixer for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
Step 4 - Gradually beat in the egg, a little bit at a time and beating well between each addition.
Step 5 - Sift the flour and mixed spice into the bowl of creamed butter and sugar.
Step 6 - Mix in the breadcrumbs and soaked fruit mixture (including all the liquid).
Step 7 - Spoon the mixture into the buttered 900ml pudding basin.
Step 8 - Layer two pieces of greaseproof paper, then fold to create a 1 inch pleat down the centre. Butter the top layer.
Step 9 - Cut a piece of foil at least twice the size of the pudding basin. Pleat, as before.
Step 10 - Place the greaseproof paper on top of the filled basin, butter side facing the pudding, trimming a wide edge around the basin.
Step 11 - Cover with the foil, tucking the ends around the rim of the basin, enclosing the greaseproof paper.
Step 12 - Tie the foil securely around the rim with the string.
Step 13 - Place the pudding into a large pan with enough simmering water to come halfway up the sides of the basin. Cover the pan with a lid and steam for 6 hours, topping up the water as needed.
Get the Cavolo Nero Christmas Pudding recipe
Cavolo Nero Christmas Pudding
- 400 g mixed dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, currants, mixed peel, chopped apricots, sultanas etc…
- 1 lemon , zest and juice
- 75 ml spiced rum
- 100 g cavolo nero leaves (woody stalks removed, leaves torn into bite sized pieces)
- 50 g mixed nuts (finely chopped)
- 75 g butter (softened, plus extra for greasing)
- 100 g dark brown sugar
- 1 egg (lightly beaten)
- 60 g self raising flour
- 2 teaspoon mixed spice
- 60 g wholemeal breadcrumbs
You will also need:
- 900 ml pudding basin
- Greaseproof paper
- Add the dried fruit, lemon zest and juice and rum to a large bowl and mix well. Cover and leave to soak overnight.
- The next day, steam or simmer the cavolo nero for a few minutes until tender. Drain and refresh by running under cold water. Squeeze out any excess moisture then chop very finely. Add the chopped cavolo nero to the bowl of dried fruit, along with the almonds and mix well.
- Put the butter and sugar into a large bowl and cream together with an electric mixer for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
- Gradually beat in the egg, a little bit at a time and beating well between each addition.
- Sift the flour and mixed spice into the bowl of creamed butter and sugar, then add the breadcrumbs and soaked fruit mixture (including all the liquid). Stir it all together to combine.
- Grease the 900ml pudding basin with butter.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared pudding basin and level the top.
- Layer two pieces of greaseproof paper, then fold to create a 1 inch pleat down the centre. Butter the top layer.
- Cut a piece of foil at least twice the size of the pudding basin. Pleat, as before.
- Place the greaseproof paper on top of the filled basin, butter side facing the pudding, trimming a wide edge around the basin. Cover with the foil, tucking the ends around the rim of the basin, enclosing the greaseproof paper.
- Tie the foil securely around the rim with the string, leaving one end long, then tie the long end on the other side to create a handle.
- Place the pudding into a large pan with enough simmering water to come halfway up the sides of the basin. Cover the pan with a lid and steam for 6 hours, topping up the water as needed.
- Carefully remove the pudding from the pan and allow to cool. Remove the string, foil and greaseproof paper, and turn it out onto a plate.
- Serve with custard, brandy butter, or flambee with rum.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors, so is not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietician for special diet advice.
Thanks for checking out my recipe! I love hearing from my readers. You all allow me to do what I love and write this UK food blog, sharing vegetarian and vegan recipes, vegetable cake recipes and also easy vegan desserts.
Disclosure: This recipe for cavolo nero Xmas pudding was commissioned by Discover Great Veg. All opinions are my own.
I actually never made Christmas pudding before and wanted to try to make one every year. Why not to make this healthy version to be my first ever Christmas pudding! Thank you for sharing healthy recipe 😀
I hope you enjoy it! 🙂
This is beautiful, and the perfect addition to our holiday dessert table.
Katie | Healthy Seasonal Recipes
I've never made a steamed pudding at home before. Does this all happen on the stove=top? Would a slow cooker work?
Yes, you can absolutely cook it in a slow cooker. Just keep checking and topping up the water if necessary.
I think it's such a brilliant idea to add some cavolo nero to a Christmas pudding. I'm sure with all those other strong flavours anyone eating it would never know it was there but it adds some extra nutrients. I'm so much looking forward to my first Christmas pudding as I love eating them but I've never actually made one.
Yes, the flavours completely mask the CN, but it's nice to know there's a bit of greenery in there!
My mom is absolutely in love with dishes like this. I totally need to make this for her!
I am a great believer in adding extra veg when possible, so this is a fantastic idea and I very much approve. Making a Christmas pudding is a wonderful tradition, and means you can tailor it to your own tastes.
WOW!! What a Christmas Pudding this is. I am sure there will be many delightes guests at your table. I love everything about this recipe and it is on point for the festive season. Cheers
Wow! I can't believe that this is healthy! What a perfect way to sneak some extra nutrition it at Christmas!