A very vegetarian Thanksgiving feast

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 15, 2011

By Emily Wilder
For The Salisbury Post
It may be shocking, but it’s also true: in my 30-something years of Thanksgiving meals, not once has my turkey day included an actual turkey. As a child, I understood that for other families this was the centerpiece, the very essence of Thanksgiving, but for me, the turkey was what Snoopy and Woodstock made out in the doghouse (any other “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” fans out there?) or a kindergarten art project made from my handprint and a drawn-on wattle and legs.
Mind you, when we sat down to the table, always decorated with my grandmother’s festive fall leaf stoneware dishes, I never noticed anything was missing. No matter how small a serving of each dish I took, there was never enough room on my plate for everything I wanted to taste. A chorus of sighs and belt loosening circled the table at the end of dinner, followed by hours of afternoon naps (even if we couldn’t blame the tryptophan) and family time in the den. Pretty average Thanksgiving as far as I could tell.
The difference, which I appreciate only now as an adult, is that despite the “over-stuffed” feeling and consumption of a very large mid-afternoon meal, no one really felt guilty or unhealthy because everything on the table was good for you—made from scratch without much butter, sugar, egg, salt, fat, cheese, or — most obviously — meat.
If by now you are wondering what we did eat, you are in luck. My mother, orchestrator of these fall feasts, has 15 years of our actual Thanksgiving Day menus tucked away in her kitchen. She shared two with me.
1996: Walnut Stuffing, Tofu “Chicken” Salad, Cranberry Sauce (homemade), Creamed Corn (homemade), Butter Beans with Stewed Sweet Tomatoes, Collard Greens, Roasted Potatoes with Peppers, Focaccia (homemade), Macaroni & Cheese (homemade), Broccoli with Lemon, Pumpkin Pie
2009: Tofurky with Wild Rice & Mushroom Gravy, Walnut Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce (homemade), Butternut Squash Green Salad, Sweet Potato Casserole, Whole Wheat Bread (homemade), Pumpkin Pie with Toasted Pecan Topping and Vanilla Ice Cream
This year, for the second year of a new tradition, everyone will gather at my house in Salisbury for our Thanksgiving meal. Here are a few of the recipes, some old, some new, that I will prepare for our table, decorated with my grandmother’s festive fall leaf stoneware dishes and memories of Tofurky days past.
Harvest Apple Salad
— Adapted from yummymummykitchen.com; recipe for 1 serving
1 large apple
1/4 C. dried cranberries
2 Tbs. chopped walnuts
2 Tbs. chopped celery
1/2 avocado, diced
1 Tbs. crumbled feta
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
If making apple bowls, slice top off apple. Using a melon baller carefully scoop out apple flesh, leaving about 1/4 inch apple rim. Chop the apple flesh. In a medium bowl, toss apple with remaining ingredients. Carefully spoon mixture back into hollowed apples.
Quinoa, Corn & Chard Stuffed Squash
2 carnival or acorn squash,
1” top sliced off and seeds
1/4 C. quinoa (dry)
1/2 C. chopped red pepper
1 C. frozen corn
1 C. chopped Swiss chard
(ribs removed)
3/4 C. water
2 thin slices of Monterey jack
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
basil, pepper, garlic salt to taste
(1/2 – 1 tsp. each)
Place squash in microwave safe dish, cut side down. Microwave 12 minutes, or until squash is tender, rotating dish halfway through. Pre-heat oven to 375. Meanwhile, bring water to boil in small pan. Add quinoa, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 8-10 minutes until water is absorbed. In a skillet, heat oil and add corn and pepper, cook until tender, add chard and cook 1-2 more minutes. Combine vegetable mix with quinoa, add spices, and mix well. Transfer mix evenly to squash shells. Place shells in baking dish and top with slice of cheese. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted.
Cranberry-Soy Baked Tofu Steaks
—adapted from Happy. Healthy. Life. www.kblog.lunchboxbunch.com
1 block extra firm tofu, sliced into 1/2-inch thick squares
1/2 C. leftover whole berry
cranberry sauce*
1/2 C. low sodium soy sauce
1/4 C. apple cider
2 T lemon juice
1/3 C. brown sugar
1 Tbs. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
dash of salt
3 Tbs. olive oil (for braising in pan)
Remove block of tofu, pat dry, and slice tofu into 1/2″ thick strips. Make marinade by combining all ingredients (except oil) in a lidded bowl. Add the tofu and squeeze a bit into the marinade to coat all sides. Replace lid and shake gently. Place in the fridge and let marinate for at least 3 hours. Heat oil in a skillet, and add tofu squares. Pour about 2 T of the marinade in with the tofu. Let the sizzle in the oil/marinade for a few minutes. Flip tofu. The bottom should have turned a dark brown color with nice rimmed char marks. Add in about 1/2 cup more of the marinade liquid. Saute the tofu in the skillet until all the liquid has turned “sticky and almost black.
*works best with homemade cranberry sauce that is less firm that canned.
Lentil Loaf
— adapted from myvegancookbook.com
Tomato Topping Mixture
6-ounce can tomato paste
1 Tbs. sugar
1/2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. onion flakes
1 Tbs. garlic salt
Lentil Loaf
1 C. Old Fashioned Oats
1/2 block extra firm tofu
1 C. chopped onion
1/2 C. chopped green pepper
1/2 C. chopped red pepper
1 Tbs. Tomato Topping Mixture
3 Tbs. plain yellow cornmeal
3/4 C. cooked and drained lentils
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/4tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix the tomato topping ingredients together first, set aside. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to a skillet on medium heat, add chopped onions, bell peppers and let cook until onions are transparent (about 5 minutes), stirring frequently. In a food processor chop oats for 5 quick pulses (or use a very sharp knife to chop). Drain tofu well. In a mixing bowl mash tofu with a fork. In the same mixing bowl combine, cooked onions and peppers, 1 tablespoon of tomato mixture, oats, corn meal, lentils, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon olive oil, thyme, cumin, chili powder, sugar, garlic salt, and mix until well combined. Spray a large sheet of tin foil with cooking spray and place on cookie sheet. On top and in the middle of tin foil form loaf mixture into loaf that is 21/2 inches tall and 41/2 inches square. Coat top and sides with tomato mixture. Cook loaf for 35 minutes, then cover with tin foil and cook for another 10 minutes. After cooking, let cool for 10 minutes before cutting into it.
Butternut Lasagnawith Spinach
1 medium butternut squash,
peeled, seeds removed, diced
1 large sweet onion, diced
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
3-4 C. torn fresh spinach leaves
3/4 C. fat-free ricotta
1 C. grated muenster cheese
9 whole wheat lasagna noodles
1/4 C. egg substitute (or 1 egg)
3-4 C. low sodium marinara sauce
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 Tbs. rosemary
1 Tbs. garlic powder
1 Tbs. sage
pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400. In a microwave save dish, cook the prepared butternut covered for 5-7 minutes until tender. In a large skillet, sauté onion, garlic, and spices for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Add spinach, and continue to cook until leaves are just wilted. Transfer to large bowl and add ricotta, 3/4 cup muenster, and egg substitute. Mash in butternut. Meanwhile, prepare lasagna noodles as directed on package. In a 9-inch by 12-inch casserole dish, layer sauce, noodles, butternut mix, and repeat. Finish with top layer of noodles and sauce and remaining cheese. Bake for 35-40 minutes until bubbly.
Warm Beet Salad
1/3 C. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs. agave
2 Tbs. finely chopped green onions
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1 pound baby beets
1/2 C. water
8-10 C. salad greens
3 Tbs. coarsely chopped toasted
3 Tbs. crumbled feta cheese
1 Tbs. chopped chives
Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Leave root and peel on beets, scrub with brush, and place in a baking dish, add 1/2 cup of water, cover and bake for 35 minutes or until tender. Trim off beet roots and rub off skins. Cut each beet into quarters, place beets in a small bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of dressing. Place salad greens on bowl or plate, drizzle remaining dressing on greens, top with beets, walnuts, cheese, and chives.
Lemon SearedBrussels Sprouts
11/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
(about 6 cups), tough stems and
outer leaves removed, halved
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 C. lemon juice
1/4 C. grated parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black
Heat oil in a deep dish skillet, and add sprouts in single layer and enough water to just cover the sprouts. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the sprouts are bright tender but still firm, 5-7 minutes, pour off excess water. Add garlic and lemon juice and continue, 3-4 minutes until sides of sprouts are seared and golden. Season with pepper and top with cheese just before removing from heat.
Green Beans withShallots and ToastedAlmonds
— from wholefoodsmarket.com
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound fresh or frozen green
beans, trimmed
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C. chopped shallots
2 Tbs. chopped parsley
1 Tbs. chopped oregano
2/3 C. blanched almond slivers, toasted
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add green beans and cook until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Meanwhile, heat oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and light golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add shallots to hot, drained green beans. Add parsley, oregano, salt and pepper and toss gently. Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with almonds and serve.
Delores’s WalnutStuffing & Mushroom Gravy
3 C. whole wheat breadcrumbs
(or packaged stuffing mix)
1 C. chopped onions
1 C. chopped green pepper
1 C. chopped walnuts
1/2 – 3/4 C. vegetable broth
2 Tbs. butter
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. sage
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter in a sauté pan, add onions and green pepper. Sauté until golden, and remove from heat and transfer to mixing bowl. Add salt, pepper, spices, bread crumbs. Add 1/2 cup vegetable broth and mix until stuffing holds together, adding more broth to hold mixture together if necessary. Place in a non-stick sprayed baking dish and pat down evenly. Bake until crispy and brown, then cut in squares and serve with gravy.
Mushroom Gravy
1 medium onion, sliced
in thin rings
1 C. sliced mushrooms
1 C. vegetable broth
1 C. soy milk
1 tsp. tamari
1/3 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 C. cold water
2-3 Tbs. flour
2 Tbs. butter
Melt butter in a sauté pan on medium heat, add onions and mushrooms, cook 1-2 minutes. Add broth and milk, reduce heat and continually stir. Simmer 2 minutes, add tamari and seasoning. In a separate container, stir flour into cold water until well mixed. Slowly add the flour mixture into the pan and stir until thickened on low heat.
‘Granny Bell’ Beans with Stewed Sweet Tomatoes
14 ounces diced tomatoes
1/4 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. cumin
16 ounces frozen lima beans
Pour diced tomatoes in a heavy skillet, add sugar and heat on medium. Stir frequently, and add cumin. Simmer until tomatoes cook down into a thick sauce, 20-30 minutes depending on heat. In a separate pot, prepare lima beans according to package. Serve beans topped with tomatoes.
Green Kitchen Note: On Christmas Eve, my extended family gathered at my great-grandmother’s tiny mill house for dinner. There were not very many vegetarian options, so my parents encouraged me to eat a lot of the lima beans by calling them Granny Bell Beans. My grandmother added the stewed sweet tomatoes, the name stuck and this unusual combination is still a family favorite!
Garlic Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes with Spinach
— from ohsheglows.com
7 red potatoes, scrubbed
and chopped
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
11/2 C. pumpkin puree
Two handfuls spinach, stems
removed and chopped
1/2 C. almond milk
2 Tbs. Earth Balance or butter
11/2 tsp. kosher salt, or more
to taste
Freshly ground black pepper,
to taste
Paprika, for garnish
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and boil potatoes for 18 to 22 minutes or until fork tender. Drain and place in a very large bowl. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over low heat in a skillet and sauté garlic for about 1 minute. be careful not to burn it like I did! Drain and mash potato chunks in the large bowl with a fork. Mix in pumpkin puree, spinach, almond milk, Earth Balance/butter, black pepper, and salt. Makes 5-7 servings.
Vegan Pumpkin Pie
1/2 C. unbleached flour
7 Tbs. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 Tbs. canola oil
3 Tbs. soymilk plus 1/2 tsp.
lemon juice
3 to 4 Tbs. water
2 C. canned pumpkin
1 C. soymilk
3/4 C. granulated sugar
1/4 C. cornstarch
1/2 Tbs. dark molasses
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
To make crust: In medium bowl, combine both flours, salt, sugar and baking powder. In small bowl, mix oil and soymilk mixture. Pour liquid mixture into dry ingredients and mix with a fork until it holds together in a ball. If it is too dry, add some water, a little at a time, until dough is moist enough to roll. (If time allows, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.) Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin forming an 11-inch circle. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the dough. Flute or crimp the edges with your fingers or a fork. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
To make filling: In large bowl, mix all remaining ingredients until smooth and blended. Pour into prepared crust and smooth top. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees; bake until filling is set, about 50 minutes. Set on wire rack to cool, then refrigerate overnight.