Parsnip and white bean hummus pincho with pickled carrot.

Best plant-based party food

Try these festive Spanish-style pinchos using the best of UK seasonal veg to liven up your festive gathering or offer as a tasty starter.

Pinchos are originally from the Basque country in the north of Spain, similar to tapas, but smaller in size and with a slice of crusty bread as a base. Although simple to make, they are always very popular at parties – perfect for the festive season.

And as plant-based party food is becoming increasingly popular, with more than one in ten of UK hosts planning to serve meat-free canapés this Christmas, according to research by Tesco, now is the time to freshen up your repertoire!

Riverford chef Ariadna Martin has created four new flavoursome pinchos, inspired by this traditional food from her home region in Spain and using the best British seasonal veg available at this time of year.

As she explains: “This recipe compilation shows you that any vegetable can be used to make a pincho. We encourage you to create your own seasonal recipes, playing around by combining flavours, textures and colours. You will be surprised how rewarding this can be, especially, when you share it with your loved ones.”

With much less packaging and more flavour than shop bought free canapés, these easy-to-make, colourful snacks are perfect for gatherings large or small.

Mushroom, leek and thyme pincho

This recipe focuses on classic flavours: earthy mushrooms, savoury leeks, and creamy brie blend harmoniously to create a quick pincho that will become a favourite. For the recipe, click here.

Vegan cauliflower fritter and romesco pincho

Cauliflower fritter

Together with the romesco (not to be confused with seasonal brassica Romanesco) sauce, the Mediterranean flavours of kalamata olive and fresh parsley combine beautifully in delicious vegan pincho. For ingredients and instructions, click here.

Parsnip and white bean hummus pincho with pickled carrot

Two popular root veg are the stars of this vegan recipe; roasted parsnip in the creamy white bean hummus brings a lovely sweetness that contrasts so well with the sharpness of pickled carrots. To learn how to make them, click here.

Roasted butternut squash, stilton and walnut pincho


Full of hearty flavours; roasted butternut squash and red onion brings the sweet bite, blue cheese adds some salty tanginess, and walnuts offer an irresistible crunchy bite. For this recipe, click here


For drinks to serve alongside, we suggest a winter spiced apple aperitif to start; an original recipe from Field Kitchen Restaurant mixologist Gem Stadden, made specially for their Christmas menu:

Winter spiced apple aperitif

spiced apple


1l fresh apple juice

2 cinnamon sticks

1 star anise

2 -3 cardamom pods, cracked

3 cloves

1 tsp grated nutmeg

500g sugar

To make:

In a pot, place the spices, sugar and apple juice. Bring to the boil, stirring to ensure the sugar is completely dissolved.

Simmer for a minute, before leaving to cool.

Strain through muslin and store in fridge.

To serve, pour 25ml cordial and 25ml soda water into a chilled shot glass.

This recipe will make about 40 servings – so plenty to see you through the season. You can also use like a standard cordial too and dilute with water. It will keep for about 3 weeks.

For a drink with a twist (and a bit of a kick!), why not try a Purple Mary?

Purple Mary

This is basically a Bloody Mary with seasonal beetroot purée in place of tomato. There are festive citrus and sherry flavours, plus a hint of warming horseradish. Best made at least 24 hours before serving, this allows the flavours to marry and saves you time on the day of your gathering. For ingredients and how to make, click here.                 

From edible present ideas to ethical Christmas trees, recipes and more, find the entire Wicked Leeks’ Christmas section here.


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