Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
  1. Turkey Day should not be a day of “thanks, but no thanks” for vegetarians. With all the meat substitutes available nowadays, there is simply no reason not to have a traditional vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner. You can easily replace the central bird with a faux turkey, create a delicious meat-free stuffing, and prepare your own gravy from scratch. Of course, you can also venture into a less traditional approach to Thanksgiving and wow your loved ones with a vegetarian feast, providing a variety of seasonal dishes while skipping the turkey as the central part of the meal. Even if you are not having a fully vegetarian Thanksgiving, you may want to offer alternative dishes to your veggie guests. Vegetarians (and vegans) get very creative for holiday celebrations, so you should be able to find a ton of information through a simple online search or perusing the vegetarian cookbooks you have at hand.


    Going For a Faux Turkey?

    There are a few meat-free turkey dinners, also known as “faux turkeys” out there for you to try. The most popular ones are Tofurky Roast, Quorn Turk’y Roast, and Gardein Stuffed Veggie Turkey Roast. The latter is the only one that is not frozen and can be found in the hot foods section of certain health food stores and supermarkets. You can find at least one of these varieties locally, and you can also get the frozen ones online.

    Follow the instructions on when to thaw (if frozen) and how to cook and/or heat up your chosen faux bird. To enhance its flavor and prevent it from getting too dry, here is a simple and delicious basting sauce recipe.

    You will need:

    1 large orange

    2-3 tablespoons olive oil

    1-2 tablespoons soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

    1 teaspoon Dijon or stone ground mustard (optional)

    Mix the ingredients well and brush the faux turkey with the mix before placing it in the oven. Then baste every 15-30 minutes with the sauce.

    If you feel adventurous and want to try concocting a faux turkey on your own, there are many recipes online, including a vegan Nut Roast à la PETA and one from the makers of the UnTurkey, which was a wheat turkey substitute that remained a favorite for many vegans and vegetarians, even after the company went out of business.


    What About the Stuffing?

    You can purchase vegetarian stuffing at the health food store and simply mix and cook it with vegetarian bouillon, or make you own from scratch with the following recipe.

    You will need:

    4 cups (1 day-old) bread, cut in small cubes

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    1 cup vegetable broth

    1/2 cup finely chopped onion

    3/4 cup chopped celery

    3/4 cup sliced mushrooms

    1/2 tablespoon poultry seasoning

    1 cup dried cranberries

    1/2 cup raisins (optional)

    1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

    Preheat oven to 400°F.

    Bake bread cubes on a pan, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until golden. Place them in a big mixing bowl.

    Sauté the onions and celery in a medium size skillet. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until tender, and add the mushrooms to cook for the last few minutes. Combine these ingredients with the bread in the mixing bowl and add the vegetable broth, cranberries, and seasoning (plus the optional ingredients, if you like). Stir well.

    Pour in a previously oiled casserole dish and bake covered at 350°F for 1 hour.


    Vegetarian Side Dishes or Main Course?

    Whether you decide to get a turkey substitute from the store or make your own from scratch, no Thanksgiving dinner is complete without side dishes. If you were to decide to skip the bird altogether, these would become your main course, so be creative. You can enhance your vegetarian Thanksgiving experience with a variety of recipes that include favorite comfort foods, such as pumpkin or squash soup, corn bread, stuffed acorn squash or zucchini, winter squash au gratin, or baked-oven vegetables with seitan (seitan, pronounced say-than, is a wheat gluten product also available at your health food store). Here are a couple of recipes to get you inspired.


    Rice Stuffed Squash

    You will need:

    4 small acorn squashes

    1 cup mixed Basmati and wild rice

    1 small red onion, finely chopped

    1/2 cup dried cranberries

    2 tablespoons finely chopped thyme

    2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

    1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

    2-1/2 cups water

    Salt and pepper


    Preheat oven to 350°F.

    Put the rice and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender.

    Slice off the top of each squash and set the tops aside. Scoop out the seeds and fiber, and sprinkle some salt and pepper inside each squash. Place them in a baking dish or roasting pan.

    Mix together the rice, cranberries, onion, thyme, parsley, and mozzarella in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    Fill each squash generously with the rice stuffing, and cover with the tops you previously set aside. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the flesh of each squash is tender when pierced with a fork.


    Vegetable and Seitan Stew

    You will need:

    3-4 mid size potatoes, peeled and cubed

    1-2 mid size sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

    1-2 mid size carrots, cubed

    A bunch of string beans, chopped

    Several broccoli and cauliflower flowerettes

    1 (8 oz.) packet of seitan strips

    1/2 to 1 cup olive oil

    1/2 to 1 cup Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

    Preheat oven to 400°F.

    Place all the ingredients in a big bowl. Mix them well, making sure that every piece is covered in oil and Bragg’s (add more of either, if needed). Place them in a previously oiled Pyrex deep dish, distributing hem evenly, with no pieces sticking out. Cover completely with tin foil and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the potatoes and sweet potatoes are thoroughly cooked. This is a versatile recipe, so feel free to make changes and adjustments as needed and to your taste.


    Don’t Forget the Gravy!

    Trimmings are very important elements of a good meal, and for Thanksgiving in particular, the gravy is probably what can make or break your dinner. A flavorful sauce is capable of transforming a not-so-impressive meal into a feast and leave your guests asking for more. Gravy is not just for garnishing the mashed potatoes; it can be added to the faux turkey, to any assortment of cooked vegetables, and even to a simple rice dish. You can find ready-made vegetarian gravy or a flavored gravy mix (to which you simply add water and heat) at the store, or you can make your own from scratch as well. Here is a simple recipe to which you can add a pinch of creativity and adjust to your own style with your favorite spices.

    You will need:

    1/3 cup finely chopped onion

    1/2 cup all-purpose flour

    2 cups vegetable broth

    1/2 cup olive oil

    4 tablespoons soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

    1/2 teaspoon dried sage

    Salt and pepper

    Sauté the onion in a medium saucepan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Stir in flour and soy sauce or Bragg’s to form a smooth paste, and gradually whisk in the broth, moving constantly to avoid clumps.

    Season with garlic powder, sage, salt, and pepper (adjust to taste). Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until thickened to your liking. If it thickens too much, dilute with additional vegetable broth.


    Give Thanks with Love and Creativity

    Express your gratitude on Thanksgiving by making friends and family sigh in happiness with a variety of healthy, delicious vegetarian dishes. Enhance your meal with the traditional cranberry sauce, mash potatoes, sparkling beverages, and yummy desserts. Be creative and adventurous, and cook with enthusiasm and love. Nobody will miss the turkey!

Leave a Reply