So, as may or may not be apparent from my posts and the title of this blog, I am a vegetarian. It all began when I was about seven years old and my mom explained to me that beef = cow and pork = pig (“Like Babe?!”) I continued eating chicken and turkey for another five or so years before deciding that doing so was morally inconsistent. The hardest thing for me to give up was my grandmother’s stuffing at Thanksgiving. She makes it from scratch and stuffs it in the bird, and it is incredibly moist and delicious, or so I remember from 17 years ago when I last had it…
Even though my grandmother’s stuffing is “off the table” for me, I still LOVE Thanksgiving–the concept of having a holiday devoted to being grateful, and the way it welcomes the Christmas season, and the food. So I thought I would share some of my favorite vegetarian dishes for Thanksgiving, in case anyone out there is looking for ideas.
- Toasted chickpeas (vegan): Thoroughly rinse and dry canned chickpeas. Toss in olive oil, some salt, and your favorite seasoning blend (I like cumin, paprika, and chili powder). Lay chickpeas out evenly on a cookie tray and roast at 325 degrees. Periodically shake or mix chickpeas. Remove when they are toasted and crispy on the outside. Allow to cool completely on the tray. Serve like nuts.
- Celery salad: Chop several bulbs of celery (including delicate leaves) thinly on the diagonal. Mix with toasted and cooled walnuts, lots of salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, finely diced shallots, and grated parmesan cheese. Keep cool. Inspired by Ina Garten.
- Cauliflower tart: Can be made with or without pie crust. Saute onions and finely chopped cauliflower with olive oil, salt, and pepper until onions begin to caramelize. Separately, combine a few eggs, some half and half or milk (or milk alternative), gruyere or cheddar cheese, some Greek yogurt or mascarpone cheese, and some parmesan cheese. Stir cheese and egg mixture with veggies. Bake in cast iron pan or pre-baked pie crust at 350 degrees until golden and yummy. Inspired by Smitten Kitchen.
- Roasted root vegetables (vegan): cut into 1/2-1 inch pieces and roast beets, carrots, parsnips (if that’s your thing; I’m not a huge fan), or any other root vegetable with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add thyme or rosemary if you’d like, or toss in balsamic vinaigrette. To make into a salad, serve on a bed of arugula with toasted almonds and some goat cheese.
- Roasted broccoli (can be made vegan): Cut broccoli into single bite florets. Include most of the stem. Alternatively, use broccolini with stems. Toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast until ends of broccoli begin to char and broccoli is tender but still firm (toss halfway between). Consider finishing with parmesan (add while still hot, or just before finished) or a little lemon zest and juice.
- Chipotle sweet potato casserole (can be made vegan): From Bobby Flay. (My friends always make this for Friendsgiving and it is so good. I tried to make it at home without following the recipe and put in way way too much chipotle. It was inedible. Be careful!)
- Spinach-feta pie: A healthier alternative to spanakopita or quiche. Combine cooked cream of wheat, feta and/or cheddar cheese, garlic, eggs, chopped steamed fresh or chopped frozen spinach, salt, pepper, a little nutmeg. Not sure where my mom found this one, but it is similar to this.
- Baked sweet potatoes (vegan): Cut sweet potato in half. Leave on skin. Rub with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast until tender and beginning to brown. Can top with toppings or herbs, or enjoy plain. The easiest thing to bring to a family gathering if you think there might not be enough vegetarian or healthy options.
- Pumpkin pie: Follow a normal pumpkin pie recipe using plain pumpkin puree (NOT “pumpkin pie filling”), with the following modifications: add an extra egg or two (pre-whisk these to make pie fluffier), take out the sweetened condensed milk, cut the sugar by about half (and consider replacing some of it with maple syrup, honey, or stevia), double the amount of spices, add vanilla extract, and cook in a large graham cracker crust.
What are some of your holiday favorites? And what is your strategy for attacking a feast–load up one giant plate, taste a little bit of everything and then go back for what’s best (my preferred method), only eat desserts, have a second round just a few hours after the meal (I also do this)?