Festive dinner: Brown lentil casserole with gravy (… and a twist)

I’m proud of myself (seriously!). I have developed a recipe for the best festive lentil dinner. It is a one-pot dish, roasted and full of flavour, with a whole bottle of beer that goes really well here (don’t worry, the beer flavour doesn’t dominate here). A dish prepared this way is already full of brown vegan gravy. The whole thing is simple and has the character of a Christmas roast. The lentils can be cooked while the dish is being prepared, so you don’t have to worry about it in advance. Gathering the ingredients could be the most complicated thing here. But when they’re all ready, this recipe is easy peasy.

I often hear such questions and concerns: “what can be prepared for a vegan Christmas dinner?”. And in fact, somehow it is easier to prepare “small” dishes, but there are no ideas for the main, festive rarity that will reign on the dinner table. So, here it is: the lentil casserole with beer.

The best way to prepare this dish is to use a pot in which you can both fry and roast. If you don’t have one, you can use a large pan or pot and then transfer everything to a large baking tin.

5 dinner portions

  • 1 cup of brown or green lentils soaked in cold water for at least one hour
  • 1 large onion (or 2 small ones)
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 8 mushrooms or a handful of dried mushrooms
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 3 juniper berries (alternatively: more allspice)
  • 3 cloves (alternatively: a good pinch of cinnamon)
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar 
  • 500ml of beer (I recommend light beer, but an interesting taste can be achieved by experimenting with others, e.g. using dark beer the taste will be more intense and a bit “heavier”)
  • 1/2 cup of water (125ml)
  • 1 tbsp of your favourite mustard (I recommend Dijon)
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram (or thyme)
  • 1 flat teaspoon salt
  • a good pinch of nutmeg
  • freshly ground pepper (a lot!)
  1. Dice the onion. Fry it and lightly brown without oil, along with bay leaves, allspice, juniper and cloves in a pot or pan. Fry it this way for about 5 minutes, until the onion starts to turn slightly brown. This stage is crucial as it will bring out the full flavour of the roast dish.

  2. Add the oil and diced celery. Fry for two minutes, then add the mushrooms cut in half, carrots cut into small chunks, and a spoonful of sugar. Stir and cook for a few minutes.

  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. In a bowl or large container, combine all the other ingredients for the sauce: beer, water, mustard, soy sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, marjoram, salt, nutmeg and a lot of pepper.

  4. Add the lentils to the frying vegetables. Pour the beer sauce over it. Stir and bring it to a boil.

  5. Cover the dish (if you do not have a suitable lid, you can use kitchen foil) and place it in the preheated oven. Bake for 45 minutes.

Serve with roasted or mashed potatoes, buckwheat, or rice. Tastes great with a raw beetroot or red cabbage salad. Leftovers (if there are any) will work well with a piece of good bread.


  • If for any reason you do not want to use beer, you can use 1 cup of dry red wine and 1.5 cup of water. The taste of the dish will be different, but still delicious.

  • I mentioned roasted potatoes as when the oven is already hot, it’s a perfect opportunity to prepare them at the same time.