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alicia

A Vegetarian Thanksgiving Dinner

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OK, I suspect that I'm setting myself up for some flack here, but I'm getting desperate. I have committed to coming up with a vegetarian entree at Thanksgiving to serve alongside my turkey. The challenge I have is that the requested dish needs to have some protein in it (I'm serving lots of sides already suitable for a vegetarian), the requesting vegetarian doesn't particularly care for eggs, lentils, or tofu. I'd like the dish to also match well with the rest of the main meal, which will be as follows:

1. pumpkin bread, cranberry bread, and biscuits

2. cranberry-apple-pear compote

3. mashed potatos (and gravy, of course - I'm making turkey gravy and a vegetarian one)

4. orange-pecan-sweet potato dish

5. sauteed lemon and sage haricots verts

6. turkey

7. possibly pumpkin soup

8. dessert, as yet undecided

Does anyone out there have any suggestions?

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Eggplant Parmigiana. Something involving cheese. Maybe a Sphagetti squash with melted cheese and butter on it. Or perhaps some falafel balls to go with some salad. We're not being traditional here obviously but at least they taste good.

Protein is a bit of an issue if they dont like Tofu though.

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oooh.... now we are talking. How about some fresh pumpkin raviolii stuffed with a mixture of eggplant and ricotta and peppers? Baked with olive oil, butter and garlic? And more cheese on the top.

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The pumpkin ravioli sounds good,or butternut squash.To address the protein...maybe add some walnuts to the filling and sauce.A browned butter,walnuts,sage kind of sauce.Ooo,now I'm getting an inspiration for what to serve my own veg daughter!

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Your vegetarian friends would probably like something traditional for a change.

Try making a bread dressing, bread crumbs or cubes, sauteed onions and celery, moistened with vegetable stock, and seasoned with poultry seasoning. Add shredded pan-fried tofu for texture, too.

Are they vegans, or just vegetarians? If they'll accept it, use butter.

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The Ravs sound nice,but there made with eggs and you may need some egg to bind your filling,guess it depends on how strict a vegetarian your friend is.

You certainly can try some buttercup or acorn squash roasted with traditional herbs and seasoning and filling them with a wonderful saute of fresh assorted wild mushrooms,shallots and thyme,then top with some toasted black walnuts and shredded Vermont Chedder (for protiens)and gratinee in the oven.You can do all these steps in advance and keep it in the fridge,then finish in the oven when you need to serve.

Hope you have a nice holiday regardless.

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I just came across this chat about vegetarian Thanksgiving at the Washington Post, best idea I've seen so far is a vegetarian pot pie.

Here is the link

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My take would be to steer away from the pumpkin, if you're also going to be serving pumpkin soup and sweet potato casserole. What about a ragout of wild mushrooms served, like shortcake, over cornbread? Hmmm...not a lot of protein there. Oooh....make the mushroom ragout, and add some sauteed seitan/wheat gluten? It will pick up the flavors of the mushrooms, and will in fact be almost identical in texture to the mushies, and would add a protein kick. I guess I like this idea because mushrooms and cornbread feel more Thanksgiving-y to me than stuff with cheese or polenta or pasta.

Alternatively, you can make a genuinely delicious pate out of green beans and walnuts (vegetarian cookbooks call it fake chopped liver, and it is in fact a pretty good mimic), and it's dead easy. Grill a couple of big portobellos, spread the pate on top, and run it under the broiler to get crusty. The walnuts would add protein, and it would feel more like a central item on the plate -- like the turkey -- than a ragout would when surrounded by sides.

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Make a chestnut loaf. Essentially chestnut stuffing cooked seperately from the turkey.

The meat eaters can have it as a stuffing, the veggies as thier main protein.

Use pre prepared chestnut for ease.

1lb chestnuts (2 tins of can whole)

1lb breadcrumbs or cooked potato

Large Onion sliced, sauteed in best butter

Garlic, sage if liked

Seasoning

2 eggs, beaten

Mushrooms roughly chopped (preferably wild, or shitake, or re-hydrated dried morel) very optional

Mix together. If you include mushrooms you might consider a drizzle of truffle oil

Pack into a non-stick or baking parchment lined loaf tin.Bake in a moderate oven for an hour.

Turn out. Make a good gravy with the soaking water from the mushrooms, soy, maderia, and thickened somewhat with flour or cornflour.

You can decorate it (either before you put in the mixture, or layered into the mixture, or after cooking) with carrot batons, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, cranberries etc

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Good question. Back when I was a vegetarian, I had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner where the main course was Almond Crepes. The recipe is in "The Vegetarian Epicure" by Anna Thomas. I tweaked the recipe a bit to suit my taste. The crepes and sauce can be made a day ahead and reheated.

Edited to add: Just noticed you are making a vegie gravy...that might work fine for a sauce for the crepes and save you extra effort.


Edited by IrishCream (log)

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In Nava Atlas' cookbook Vegetarian Celebrations, one of the main dishes she uses for a vegetarian Thanksgiving is 'Corn, Squash, and Rice Loaves'. Essentially herbs, cooked brown rice, corn, summer squash, and brussels sprouts (or broccoli) molded in a loaf pan and bound with breadcrumb, eggs, buttermilk and cheese.

I've made them and they are quited good. They unmold fairly easily and are then sliced for serving.

If you're interested, let me know and I'll send you the entire recipe.

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Wow! Thanks for all of the suggestions - I am torn between a butternut squash ravioli with a walnut, brown butter and sage sauce, or the suggested mushroom/seitan saute over cornbread (or maybe polenta?). The requesting vegetarian (my husband) eats butter, dairy, and things made with egg, but just doesn't like the taste/texture of eggs, tofu and lentils. Cornbread, however, is one of his favorite foods, and it could also be served with the cranberry bread just as a bread too. And I suspect that I could sneak the seitan into the mushrooms without his ever knowing that its there.

All of the suggested dishes sound wonderful - inspiration for some of the other meals I'll be making over the next week while we've got relatives in town, and much better sounding that the repeated versions of "lentil loaf" that I kept coming across as a suggestion.

And I thought that I was just going to be given a hard time for even considering a vegetarian entree. . .

:biggrin:

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Ohhh!! There's lots of people who I socialize with who are vegetarians... when we have a Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner, I get this Worthington Foods veggie meat roll (think a sausage 6 inches in diameter) from a local healthfood store. It comes frozen, so I thaw it out, slice it into round discs and then in half, and then make stuffing. I then layer it (the veggie meat on the flat side standing up), stuffing, veggie meat, stuffing.... bake @ 350 for 15 minutes to crisp it up and then drizzle with veggie gravy (available at health food stores). It's usually a big hit, with the carnivores eating just as much as the herbivores. :biggrin:

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Alicia, if your husband eats eggs, what about a souffle? Oh, too much egg texture, I guess.

The other thing I thought about was something with corn and beans (which together give complete protein). A vegetarian chili with that cornbread?


Edited by Pan (log)

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:biggrin: Do you need a butternut squash soup recipe? I have a good one.

E-mail me and I'll send it if you like.

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If it's not too late -- I just had a taste of a vegetarian cassoulet that would satisfy ANYBODY. The regular beans, veg stock, aromatics, crumb topping, and:

- vegetarian "sausage," which I normally avoid but which worked really well here;

- roasted onions for deeper flavor;

- confit shiitakes, which were just wonderful!

edited because I originally said smoked shiitakes, which is wrong, but would probably also be delicious.


Edited by Suzanne F (log)

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why not a vegetarian pot pie of some sort?

it would keep in the them of traditional thanksgiving meal, you can use the same seasonings, a cream sauce with vegetable broth, peas, potatoes, celery, carrots, and use that fake chicken from boca as the protein part. put it in a pie crust, and voila.

the vegetarian cassoulet sounds good too.

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make a strudel with filo dough stuffed with sauteed spinach, onions, raisins and cheese (goats cheese or feta and mozzarella are a good combo), seasoned with hot pepper flakes and garlic.

sautee the onions, garlic, hot pepper flakes and raisins, add the squeezed frozen spinach cook to coat with seasonings add s and p to taste.

Cool

Mix with cheeses, butter layers of filo and stack, can make either a log or individual large turnovers, or even large beggars purses for a great stylized look.(or small ones even for appetizers)

stuff with filling, brush with more butter and at this point you can freeze to bake on day or just bake and serve. Everything is cooked so you are just crisping and browning the filo.


Edited by tigerwoman (log)

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Jeez...who cares about protein on Thanksgiving? I usually slice myself one little bit of turkey and then load up on all the forbidden delights like corn pudding, tamale stuffing. sweet potato casserole,frresh rolls. cranberry sauce

Protein be damned!

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I definitely like the strudel idea - I've done one that was kale, roasted red pepper and ricotta (although I mixed in some tofu here), which, as a bonus, was festively colored. Any sort of mushroom strudel would be great too.

And kudos for not making vegetarian lasagna. I'm not sure who came up with the idea of lasagna for the vegetarians on Thanksgiving, but it's always nice to see someone looking for more traditional flavors.

Or maybe it's because I don't like most vegetarian lasagnas. :)

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Or maybe it's because I don't like most vegetarian lasagnas. :)

That's because you've never had mine! :biggrin: Let me know the next time you're in NYC.

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Try the Parsnip Pie in the eG recipe archives. Yes, yes, it is a recipe that I added but it is sooo friggin' good. I have converted parsnip haters into adoring fans when serving this dish. And I am making it for our Thanksgiving table this week. It can be made ahead and reheated. Make lots...you'll want leftovers.

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We won't have a big crowd for Thanksgiving this year -- only 5 or 6 people. One of them, however, is a fairly strict vegetarian. We'll deep fry a small turkey for the rest of us (it'll be our first turkey frying experience), and we'll have plenty of side dishes, but I do want something that's "main dish" enough for Leo and side-dishy enough for us. Frankly, the turkey is the visual centerpiece but it takes up only a tiny percentage of plate space.

We've been mostly veggies at different times, so our friend doesn't have to worry. (Some years ago, a friend reported that it was common to be a houseguest at dinner and hear, "We knew you were vegetarian, so we made a chicken!")

I've been looking at the fresh corn timbale or asparagus timbale from the Greens cookbook. I've also made the leek-mustard tart on multiple occasions, though I'm not sure about throwing another "pie" onto the table. And years ago, in our most Moosewood days, we used to bake acorn squash with apples and herbed ricotta cheese. But I feel as though there are better options that I haven't yet considered.

For what it's worth, the other certain elements in the meal include an appetizer plate of mixed salads; ginger-sweet-potato souffle, cranberry-ginger chutney (that's already made!), a stovetop mushroom gravy, a turkey-stock-based gravy, and bread dressing (in which we'll use veggie stock). Probably mashed potatoes, though we haven't decided in what way to experiment with it. Cipollini onions glazed with balsamic vinegar. And we'll make 3 pies for 5 people, along with homemade ice cream. (So far. Our idea of compromise is "let's make both.")

So: what would you make for the vegetarian?

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