21 Dec 2023

Plant-based Christmas with Two Raw Sisters

From Nights, 9:40 pm on 21 December 2023

Plant-based meals don't have to be just side dishes, they can be main events too. Two Raw Sisters share three Christmas recipes sure to brighten up your dinner table.

A white plate atop a white table, with a fork and spoon sitting nested on the side. The salad is piled on the plate: yellow roasted cauliflower, creamy sauce and bright zingy greens.

Sumac roasted cauliflower with pomegranate and caper salsa. Photo: Two Raw Sisters

They aren't vegetarian or vegan, but Margo and Rosa Flanagan are big believers in 'plant-based' eating - putting vegetables at the centre of every plate - including at Christmastime.

They are the duo behind Two Raw Sisters, two Christchurch-based and internationally celebrated cookbook authors and foodies, and they join Mark Leishman on Nights to share three cracker Christmas dishes.

"The centrepiece is quite often the big turkey, or roast lamb, and the veges can often be the last-minute, boring side," Margo says.

"We want to help people flip their perception on how they start a meal or how they start their Christmas day this year, and get them thinking about these big beautiful salads and cooking vegetables in a really delicious way."

Rosa and Margo Flanagan (aka Two Raw Sisters)

Rosa and Margo Flanagan (aka Two Raw Sisters) Photo: Two Raw Sisters / Facebook

Making sure their salads are substantial and not just a dull "iceberg lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and maybe some feta if you're lucky" is top priority, Rosa says.

"Normally, we start with some sort of grain, whether that's millet, quinoa, brown rice, israeli couscous - you get to choose."

Their go-to, four-part salad structure is rounded out with seasonal vegetables, nuts and seeds for texture, and some sort of dressing.

"Our key thing [for choosing vegetables] is choose what's cheap, because whatever's cheap is most likely going to be in season, and in turn taste a lot better than something that's travelled a million miles to be on the shelf."

Toasted couscous, herb oil, broccoli & almonds (serves 4-6)

A salad that is packed full of summer greens. Perfect for any occasion. We love serving this one alongside a side of salmon or a roast turkey or chicken. For a gluten free alternative change the couscous to brown rice, millet or quinoa.

Low FODMAP - leave the garlic out of the herb oil and use a gluten free grain.

A close-up of a white plate. Packed into the centre is a bed of grains covered in greens.

Toasted couscous, herb oil, broccoli and almond salad. Photo: Two Raw Sisters

  • 1 cup israeli couscous
  • Water
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Herb oil:

  • 1 cup herbs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup flaked almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 1 cup herbs, chopped


Add the couscous into a pot and toast over a medium heat for a couple of minutes.

Then add the water.

Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 14 minutes.

Heat up the oil in a pan and add the broccoli and sea salt. Allow the broccoli to sit and cook in the oil for a couple of minutes, then give it a toss. Then allow it to sit and cook for another couple of minutes. Once it is nice and crispy, remove the pan from the heat.

For the herb oil, add all of the ingredients to a small blender and blend until a vibrant green oil is formed. Alternatively, you can use a hand held stick blender. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add the cooked couscous, broccoli, almonds and walnuts. Drizzle over the herb oil and gently toss everything together.

Lastly, add the herbs and give everything one last final toss before serving.

This salad will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Please note if you are wanting to keep it over the 3 days, leave the herbs out and add them just before enjoying.

Sumac roasted cauliflower with pomegranate caper salsa (serves 4-6)

Yum, yum, yum and yum. We love this one. Sumac and pomegranate molasses roasted cauliflower and the most amazing punchy salsa to compliment it. Pomegranate seeds, salty capers, chewy currants, lemon juice, vibrant herbs. You’ve got to make this one. Try the salsa with sautéed or roasted zucchini.

  • 1 cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • 1 tbsp ground sumac
  • 1/2 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Pomegranate caper salsa:

  • 1 cup mint, chopped
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 2 tbsp currants
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Tahini yoghurt:

  • ½ cup plant-based or dairy yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • Water, to loosen

To serve:

  • 2 cups rocket


Preheat the oven to 220C.

On a baking tray place the cauliflower florets and toss with sumac, turmeric, pomegranate molasses, salt + oil. Place in the oven and bake for 8-10 mins then turn the oven onto its grill function and grill for another 8-10 mins. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

For the salsa, add all ingredients to a bowl and mix to combine. Set aside.

For the tahini yoghurt, add all ingredients and mix until well combined. Set aside.

To assemble, layer the salad. Starting with a layer of fresh rocket, followed by the roasted cauliflower, salsa and dollops of tahini yoghurt. Continue this layering process for another 1-2 layers.

Any leftovers will keep in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 2-3 days.

Roasted vanilla strawberries with hazelnut crumble (serves 4)

If you have never roasted strawberries before, this will blow your mind. Our go to Christmas dessert that always goes down a treat. You can do a mixture of your favourite berries or roast stone fruit instead.

Low FODMAP - change the honey to maple syrup and ensure the ice cream you use is FODMAP friendly.

A birds' eye view of a beige plate on a white table. The plate is strewn with crumble, chunks of strawberry, and three lumps of ice cream.

Everyone should give roasting strawberries a go this summer, the Two Raw Sisters say. Photo: Two Raw Sisters

Roasted strawberries:

  • 2 punnets strawberries, halved
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

To serve:

  • 500ml Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 1x recipe hazelnut ginger crumble (see recipe below)


Preheat the oven to 200C.

Toss the strawberries with the coconut oil, honey and sea salt. Place on a lined baking tray and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Once cooked, remove the strawberries from the oven and let them cool before serving.

To assemble, arrange the roasted strawberries on a flat plate. Top with 4 scoops of ice cream on top and sprinkle over a generous amount of hazelnut ginger crumble. Serve immediately.

Hazelnut ginger crumble (makes three cups)

A close-up of a beige plate on a white table. The plate is strewn with crumble, chunks of strawberry, and three lumps of ice cream.

Two Raw Sisters' dessert: roasted strawberries with hazelnut crumble. Photo: Two Raw Sisters

Highly recommend making a big batch of this delicious crumble over the festive season. It can be used in so many ways, whether that's sprinkled over ice cream or roasted berries and / or stone fruit. Feel free to change up the hazelnuts for any other nut such as brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts or almonds.

  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • ½ cup rolled oats (GF option: dried coconut chips)
  • ½ cup flour (GF option: buckwheat flour)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp sea salt


Preheat the oven to 160C.

In a blender, add ½ cup of hazelnuts and rolled oats. Blend into a coarse flour.

Add the hazelnut and oat flour to a bowl, along with the other ½ cup of hazelnuts, roughly chopped, flour, coconut oil, coconut sugar, maple syrup, ginger, and sea salt. Mix until everything is well combined.

Spoon the hazelnut ginger crumble evenly over a lined baking tray. Place in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden and crunchy.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container or jar, in the fridge for up to two weeks.