I'm not vegetarian, but will be catering for those who are. The Panettone Stuffing Squares sound so delicious and I want to make them for Christmas. What could I do to replace the pancetta make it vegetarian so that it still has a similar taste and texture?
Nigella's Panettone Stuffing Squares (from NIGELLISSIMA) are delicious served as a stuffing to be baked in a dish and served alongside the turkey, or can be served in small squares as a canape or pre-dinner appetizer with drinks. The mixture includes panettone studded with dried fruits and also pancetta. The pancetta adds some fat and a savoury flavour.
It would be possible to omit the pancetta for vegetarians but you will need to add 2-3 extra tablespoons of olive oil and unless you would like the stuffing to be very garlicky then we suggest using a regular olive oil. The vegetable mixture should not become dry while it is cooking and softening. To replace some of the savoury, or umami, flavour from the bacon you could use a strong, hard cheese. Parmesan is not vegetarian as it contains animal rennet, though some vegetarians do eat it, but Italian-style vegetarian hard cheeses are available. We suggest checking with your guests to find out what is suitable. Finely grate the cheese and add it when you mix in the chestnuts. We suggest starting with about 30g (1 ounce) of cheese, then taste the mixture. Add more and continue tasting and adding until you feel that you have an amount that suits your taste. You may need also to season the mixture with a little extra salt and pepper, though bear in mind that the stuffing will taste slightly saltier if it is served warm. For party recipe ideas try Nigella's Christmas Party Collection.