Hi All! It’s been a while since I have done a post, I apologize. I am also sorry, but this is not a garden post…this is a recipe post. As some of you know, I have been a vegetarian for 23 years now, and with the holidays approaching, I have been asked by a number of folks what I serve for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Most have a family member who have adopted the veggie diet and they have no idea what to do, and when pondering the best way to share what I know, this blog made the most sense to me. I haven’t done a good job of taking pictures of my holiday meals in the past, so this post is a little lighter on pics than my normal, but I will try and remedy that this year.
First, bravo if you have decided to become a vegetarian and stick to it through the holidays. And second, if you are a family member of a vegetarian who has found their way here in an effort to support and include that vegetarian as part of your holiday feast, I bow in gratitude to you. The holidays are a time for family and togetherness…and I can tell you that it can feel pretty rotten to have people claim your diet is too hard for them and throw in the towel without even trying.
So..What does a vegetarian have for Thanksgiving? I like to start with a faux turkey product. Why? Well first, there are lots of faux meat options out there these days. Second, it helps make the meal still feel very traditional. My favorite is the Quorn Turk’y Roast.
Why do I like it best? I like that it is easy, I like the texture (not rubbery), I like that it doesn’t come pre-stuffed so I can do my own thing. It also great in sandwiches as left overs. I usually plan on one roast for every two people I am feeding to be sure I have enough and have some leftovers. You will find it in the freezer section of stores like Central Market and Kroger. Take it out of the freezer and move it to the fridge the day before. Then I pre-heat the oven to 425º, take the roast out of the box and cut a few slits in the wrapper, and pop it in a foil lined loaf pan. Then roast it in the oven for 45 minutes – turning it halfway through. Then cut off the wrapping and slice up your “Turk’y.”
I serve a slightly different menu every year, but main part of the dinner stays the same: Quorn Turk’y roast, vegetarian stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, steamed broccoli and veggie gravy….lots of gravy.
I am going to guess that you have your own favorite mashed potato recipe and that if you like steamed broccoli, you know that one too, so I am going to focus on the stuffing, the cranberry sauce, the gravy…and then a few of my optional sides.
I LOVE stuffing. It is the thing I will sneak into the kitchen at midnight to eat a little more off. This one is super simple – so if it is missing some favorite ingredient, throw it in. But this will make most vegetarians pretty happy.
I start with the classic bags of stuffing you buy at the store.
I always get the Pepperidge Farm brand because I know and trust it, but any Herb Seasoned and Cornbread versions should do. (I get the 14 oz bag of each and use half of each bag for Thanksgiving and then the other half for Christmas)
Here is my recipe:
7 oz of Dry Herb Stuffing
7 oz of Dry Corn Bread Stuffin
Half of a yellow onion – finely chopped
About 3 large stalks of celery – finely chopped
1 Tbs. of Olive Oil
2 Cups of Veggie broth
3 eggs – beaten
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and stir fry the celery and onion for about 5 minutes – until the onion is translucent. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Preheat the oven to 325º.
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir until the broth and eggs are well distributed and all the dry stuffing has become a little moist.
Spread into a 9×13 casserole dish. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes – the top will brown a little around the edges. Don’t leave it in too long or it will dry out.
I enjoy making my own cranberry sauce. It is actually super easy. The simplest is to take one of those bags of cranberries you get in the produce section, wash and pick over them, pour them into a heavy sauce pan, add a little sugar and some water and a squeeze of lemon, stir that all up and turn the heat up to medium. Once the whole thing is bubbling a bit, turn it down to a simmer and stir occasionally until most of the cranberries have burst and the whole thing is thick and yummy. But if you want to up your game and wow your guests, you want to make this Cabernet Cranberry and Blueberry Sauce. It is AMAZING. And you can make it with the red wine of your choice.
Here is the link to the recipe: Cabernet Cranberry and Blueberry Sauce
I completely wimp out on the gravy. I buy my gravy in little powder packets and whisk it to live right before dinner. I know, I know…I could make it myself, but with so much to cook, I have to cut corners somewhere.
The brand I have always used has been discontinued, so I am trying this kind this year – seems to be about the same thing.
But I also found this at my Sprouts and have it as standby if needed.
I will report back on the new gravy packet.
Here are a couple of ideas for other sides you might like that are not your standard fare.
These are a great way to bring pumpkin from the dessert table to the dinner table. They are made fresh from an actual pie pumpkin, so plan in the time it takes to peel and slice one of the those suckers – they are hard, so be careful. I use my mandolin to make the thin slices easier and prettier. Basically, you peel the pumpkin, slice it thin, soak it for a bit in water, then dry off your slices, toss with olive oil and spices and bake. Then you have the option to toss with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese.
Here is the link to the recipe: Baked Pumpkin Fries
SWEET POTATO STACKERS
Marshmallows are NOT vegetarian, so if you are looking for a fresh new way to bring sweet potatoes to the table that will please the veggies in the group, try these.
They are cute and delicious
Here is a link to the recipe: Sweet Potato Stackers
STUFFED ACORN SQUASH
Here is a fun new side you may not have thought of – Acorn Squash. This recipe is very flavorful and holiday appropriate with it’s cranberries and walnuts. One is too much as a side, but your guests can cut off a bit for themselves or just scoop it out.
Here is the link to the recipe: Acron Squash with Walnuts and Cranberry
BEET APPLE SALAD WITH HORSERADISH AND PISTACHIOS
Don’t run away! Trust me on this one. It is a little bit of work, but it is surprisingly tasty. Don’t mix the apples and the beets – set one on top of the other. The red of the beets will immediately stain the applies and it won’t be as pretty.
Here is my version.
I can’t find my original recipe, but here is a link to what looks like the same thing: Beet and Apple salad
That is all I have for now. I hope this helps those of you trying to include a vegetarian as part of your feast this year.