Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu

Hosting holidays is something I enjoy. While some people find it stressful, I think for me it is laid-back and just plain fun. I try to not make anything too complicated or fussy and generally tend to have a balanced plate, snacks for peckish people, and a crowd-pleasing dessert. In my opinion, it is best to keep it simple and focus on doing just a few things, but doing them well.

Thanksgiving can be an especially difficult holiday for vegetarians and vegans, as many of the traditional offerings are heavy in animal products. The same flavors are definitely still possible without meat, so whether you are making a dish for a vegetarian guest, or plan on hosting a fully cruelty-free Thanksgiving, I’ve included a sample menu to get you started 🙂

I would include a red wine, IPA, and sparkling water for guests to drink (of course more options if you desire, but I try to keep it simple). Mixed salted nuts and dried cherries are a great snack to have out on tables, as well as soft cheese with baguette. For dessert, apple crisp is easy to make vegan by simply using vegan butter and pairing with vegan ice cream (SO Delicious Vanilla Cashewmilk is my personal recommendation for vegan vanilla). Of course most desserts are already vegetarian, so no need to plan too much for that ;p

Mixed Green Cranberry Walnut Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients:

Large container spring greens (around 8 cups)

Brianna’s Blush Wine vinaigrette

3/4 cup red onion, very thinly sliced

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

4-6 oz. goat cheese crumbles (leave out if making vegan)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Toss all ingredients together!

Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Serves 6

Ingredients:

4 medium sweet potatoes, washed well

3/4 cup Maple Syrup

4 Tablespoons butter (or earth balance)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400º F.

Slice potatoes lengthwise, then chop into pieces about 1/2 inch thick. In skillet melt butter on med-high heat. Add potatoes.

Add maple syrup, toss to coat, then bring to a boil. Place potatoes in oven, stirring every 5 minutes, until done (they should able to be pierced by a fork). This should take about 20 minutes.

Beyond Beef Pot Pies

Serves 6

Ingredients:

I lb. Beyond Beef (or other meatless ground)

1 medium yellow onion

4 cloves minced garlic

2 carrots, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

2 cups frozen peas

3 Tablespoons olive oil (1-2 additional Tablespoons to brown the Beyond Beef)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup AP flour

4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup wine (I use a red wine to bring out a richer flavor, but white whine is fine if you prefer)

1 package puff pastry (if you prefer homemade, see my post Vegan Puff Pastry)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425º F.

In large skillet or saucepan, heat the 3 Tablespoons olive oil on med-high. Add onion and garlic and cook 4-5 minutes, until soft.

Add carrots, celery, and peas. Cook a few more minutes.

Add herbs, salt, and flour. Stir to disperse flour and avoid clumps. Add wine and broth slowly, stirring well. Turn heat down to low and let simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In separate pan, use a bit of olive oil to brown the beyond meat (this should only take a few minutes, so be careful not to over cook it).

Add the beyond meat to the rest of the filling and remove from heat. Assemble pot pies by filling in ideal ramekins with about 1 cup of filling each (if you don’t have ramekins, simply use a pie dish or a 9×9 baking dish). Top with puff pastry.

Bake until crust is done (about 20 minutes). Garnish with fresh parsley or rosemary sprigs.

Wild Rice with Asparagus

This is a recipe I came up with recently because I got some asparagus from market. It’s a good time of year for asparagus, which pairs well with lemons (also abundant in the springtime).

Wild rice and lentils round it out as a meal that is high in protein.

Wild Rice with Asparagus

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook time: About 45 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

1 bunch asparagus, chopped into 1 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1/2 cup wild rice (+ 2 cups water)

1/2 cup green lentils (+ 1 1/2 – 2 cups water)

Juice of 1 lemon

2-3 teaspoons olive oil

2-3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Handful parsley, chopped

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a medium lidded saucepan, bring wild rice and 2 cups water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook, covered, for about 40 minutes (or until water is completely absorbed).

In another pot, combine lentils and 1 1/2-2 cups water (this depends on whether you prefer softer or firmer lentils). I prefer firmer lentils, so I use closer to 1 1/2 cups water. Simmer the lentils and water for 30-40 minutes.

While the rice and lentils are cooking, heat a medium saute pan on high heat. Add the onions and garlic. Continue to cook on high, adding water to prevent sticking, for about 8-10 minutes. Add asparagus with a pinch of salt and continue to cook until asparagus is tender (about 15 minutes).

Once cooked, remove pan with asparagus from heat.

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

Once rice and lentils are cooked, combine with the asparagus and chopped parsley. Toss with lemon vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper.

This dish can be served warm or room temperature, so it is a great spring dish. The flavors of lemon, pepper, and asparagus combined with the texture of wild rice is really quite nice.

Lemon-Garlic Rice with Cannellini Beans

This is a really simple dinner that is great for Spring. The broccoli can easily be substituted with asparagus, as that also goes really well with the bright lemon and garlic flavor.

If I have them on hand, I may also throw a few diced tomatoes in the pot with the rice to deepen the flavor. Additionally, you can really use any herbs you like. I tend to just throw in my Tuscan seasoning because I always have it on hand, however fresh thyme or even rosemary would be a welcome addition.

Lemon-Garlic Rice with Cannellini Beans

Serves: 2

Time: about 40 minutes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup long-grain brown rice (if using short-grain, cook time will be shorter)

1 cup water

Zest of 1 lemon

3 cloves garlic, minced

Juice of 1/2 lemon (save the other half and serve the wedges as garnish)

1 teaspoon Tuscan seasoning (I use Penzey’s)

Large pinch salt

2 cups broccoli, chopped (asparagus also works)

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 onion, diced

Directions:

Place rice, water, lemon zest, garlic, lemon juice, and Tuscan seasoning (as well as any additional herbs) in a medium or large saucepan with lid. Bring to a boil, then once boiling, reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes with lid on.

While the rice begins to cook, prepare the broccoli by chopping it. Dice the 1/2 onion.

In a small saucepan or sauté pan, cook the onions on high heat until caramelized. To help achieve this, I use water to help the onions not stick (this also helps to sort of deglaze the pan).

Once the rice has been simmering for 15 minutes, add the broccoli along with a splash of extra water and a large pinch of salt. Return the lid and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until rice is cooked and broccoli is tender.

During this time, drain and rinse the cannellini beans. Add to cooked rice and broccoli until the beans are warmed through.

Serve with caramelized onions and lemon wedges. I also have extra salt on the table for my husband, as well. Fresh parsley or thyme would -also be excellent garnishes!

I find this is definitely a simple and healthy meal that is also an easy way to throw in spring vegetables. You can add more veggies and herbs, so it can be pretty different, but the base is nice and fresh. Can’t really go wrong with rice and beans!

Udon Noodles with Miso

This is such an easy and quick dinner. I often make this when my husband is working late and I’m eating solo because it is a really easy dinner to make for one. It is also really simple for more people as well, but this recipe is for just one serving!

Because udon noodles cook in just a few minutes, it is ready really quickly.

Udon Noodles with Miso

Prep & Cook Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

85 grams Inaniwa-style Udon noodles (other types are good, but I like the texture and quick cooking time of Inaniwa Udon)

Large handful red cabbage, shredded

1 carrot, peeled into long strips (I just use my peeler on the entire carrot to get lots of thin strips)

1/3 cup shelled edamame (I use frozen and heat it in the microwave or on stovetop)

1 Tablespoon Miso paste

1-2 Tablespoons water

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

Dash sesame oil

Sprinkle of red chili flakes

Green onion, finely chopped

Directions:

Fill medium or large, lidded saucepan with water and bring to a boil.

While the water is heating, prepare the veggies by shredding the carrots and cabbage. Heat/steam the edamame and set aside.

Mix together the miso paste, rice wine vinegar, maple syrup, sesame oil, chili flakes, and 1 Tablespoon of the water. If it is still too thick, add another Tablespoon of water.

Place the sauce in a small saucepan on medium-high heat until it begins to boil, then reduce to a simmer.

By now the water should be boiling and you can cook your noodles. With Inaniwa Udon this should only take around 3 minutes, but check your package instructions to be sure. Toss the cabbage and carrots in with the noodles for the last 1-2 minutes of cooking to soften them.

Once the noodles are cooked, drain, then toss with sauce.

Serve topped with green onions.

Hopefully this recipe makes sense. It’s hard to describe the cooking of the veggies, so feel free to ask if any questions arise!

Greek Gyros

My husband and I are both big fans of Greek flavors and I made these sort of gyro wraps for dinner the other night. They were a big hit and I’ve since made them again!

The thing that is tricky is that traditional tzaziki isn’t vegan, so I make my own using non-dairy yogurt (it’s really simple).

Then all you need are your preferred fixings and some flatbread, like pitas or naan. We prefer naan because it is really filling and a bit more fluffy than pita, but both work great!

For the meat, I use meatless ground (Gardein has a good one that is frozen).

This recipe is good for dinner for two, but just multiply it to serve more people.

Vegan Gyros

Ingredients:

About 1/4 onion, thinly sliced

1/2 bell pepper, thinly sliced

2 cups lettuce, shredded or chopped

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

7-8 black olives, sliced in half

1 1/2 cup meatless ground

Lamb seasoning to taste (I use the lamb seasoning from Penzey’s, but other Greek seasoning will work)

Olive oil

Naan (make sure it is vegan because a lot of naan contains buttermilk)

Directions:

Toss the lettuce with balsamic vinegar.

Heat pan on medium heat with some olive oil. Add meatless ground and desired lamb/Greek seasoning. Cook until it gets color and is heated through, probably about 6-7 minutes.

Warm naan using the stovetop, oven, or microwave.

Add meatless ground to the naan or pita, then stuff with lettuce, bell pepper, onions, and olives. Top with tzaziki and enjoy!

Tzaziki:

I cup dairy-free yogurt (I use coyo coconut yogurt)

1/2 cucumber, diced

1/4 cup red onion, diced

Squeeze lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

Small bunch dill, chopped

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and enjoy!

Hopefully you enjoy this as much as we did! It’s becoming a pretty common dinner in my house because it is really filling and delicious.

Valentine’s Day Pizza

This post is a little late since Valentine’s Day was last week, but we celebrated by making a homemade heart pizza!

The dough recipe is from a friend of mine and I use it every time I make pizza. Sometimes I make the sauce as well, but this time I tried Cucina Antica La Pizza sauce which was super delicious!

Normally I skip the cheese, but I added vegan mozzarella this time and I have to say I prefer it without. If you eat cheese, however, feel free to add it vegan or otherwise.

Homemade Pizza

Serves: Realistically, 2-3

Time: 1.5-2 hours, including dough rise

Ingredients:

1.5 Tablespoons Yeast

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 cup lukewarm water

2 3/4 cups flour

Pinch salt

2-3 teaspoons olive oil

Pizza sauce (homemade or otherwise)

Desired toppings (such as olives, veggies, cheese, etc.)

Directions:

1. Make the dough. Combine lukewarm water, yeast, and sugar. Stir and let sit until bubbling (a few minutes).

2. Place flour and salt in mixer with yeast mixture. Using the dough hook, mix on low-med until combined. Once combined, oil the sides of the mixing bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise for about an hour or until at least doubled.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out dough and toss/shape to form pizza.

4. Add sauce and toppings, then bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes (until desired doneness)

Hopefully you enjoy this! It can take some trial and error when making homemade pizza, but this dough recipe has always produced great results for me 🍕

Sesame-Ginger Kale Salad

This recipe has been one of my favorites lately. I’m a bit obsessed with both ginger and kale! It’s easy to throw together for lunch or dinner and can be easily adjusted to feed more people.

I learned recently that your are supposed to massage kale before you use it in a salad (apparently this makes it easier to digest), so I recommend giving it a little massage.

This salad is packed with nutrients and it really does taste good, in my opinion.

Sesame-Ginger Kale Salad

Serves: 2

Prep time: 20 minutes

Salad Ingredients:

7-8 stalks of kale

1 bell pepper (I use red)

1 carrot, shredded with a peeler

1 avocado, cubed

1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped

Cilantro

Sesame seeds

1 cup edamame

Salt

Dressing Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil

Juice of 1 lime

1 Tbls rice wine vinegar

1 Tbls honey or agave

Small piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

Dash red pepper flakes

Dash sesame oil

Directions:

1. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a food processor and purée until relatively smooth (I often leave some bigger bits of ginger and garlic because I prefer that).

2. Rip kale from the thick stem and rinse. Chop into 1-2 inch pieces and massage with salt (with clean hands).

3. After massaging the kale, add the pepper, carrot, edamame, onion, and cilantro. Toss with dressing until well-coated.

4. Add avocado, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve.

*If using frozen edamame, simply thaw separately in the microwave for 30-60 seconds.

Hopefully you enjoy this! I always feel really nourished after eating. If trying to make a more substantial meal, you could always serve with some cilantro-lime rice, or even some sweet potato wedges!