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.

Pumpkin Bread

I know we are bombarded with an abundance of “pumpkin spice” this time of year, yet many pumpkin treats seem to neglect the star ingredient! My absolute favorite way to enjoy pumpkin is via pumpkin bread and this recipe contains a healthy portion of pumpkin to ensure maximum pumpkin flavor 🙂

I also add some maple syrup to help bring out the flavor of the spices and pumpkin. Oh! And it’s vegan, so it is a great option to bring to Thanksgiving or other potlucks for a vegan option. The icing is optional, but makes it more decadent (although I may actually prefer it without as a hearty snack cake with some tea).

Pumpkin Bread

2 cups A.P. Flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

2 pinches cloves

1 pinch salt

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup almond milk

1 can pumpkin purée

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional: 1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger (for when you want some extra spice and zing)

Icing

Almond milk (a few Tablespoons, depending on preferred viscosity)

Confectioner’s sugar (1/2 – 3/4 cup)

Vanilla extract (about 1 teaspoon)

Directions:

Heat oven to 350º F.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt. Set aside.

In large bowl, whisk together sugar, maple syrup, canola oil, almond milk, pumpkin purée, and vanilla extract.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in 3 parts, whisking to combine. Use a spatula to scrape sides of bowl between additions.

Spray loaf pan (lining with parchment should also work). Fill with batter, smooth, and bake for about 55 minutes. You can test using a toothpick or cake tester and if it comes out clean, it’s done!

Hopefully you enjoy!

To see exactly how to make it, I’ve included a video:

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Since apple season is in full force, I decided to make my cinnamon roll recipe with an apple butter filling (to fully embrace autumnal vibes).

It turned out even better than anticipated (I immediately consumed two rolls), so I thought I’d share.

I used the same base recipe for cinnamon rolls found here but used a different filling.

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Filling:

1/2 cup apple butter (the kind without added sweeteners or sugar)

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

I made the dough as usual, but spread this instead of the usual filling and it turned out well! These do seem to be a bit more gentle than typical cinnamon rolls when placing them into the dish for their proof, so treat them gently.

If you want to see the process of how to make these Apple Cinnamon Rolls, watch the video to see the steps in action.

Cinnamon Rolls

These cinnamon rolls are easy, delicious, and vegan. The nutmeg in the dough can easily be replaced with cardamom for a more Scandinavian flavor, as well. They can be iced or plain and are delicious either way.

Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: around 10 rolls

Prep Time: around 2 hours

Bake Time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cup AP flour

1/8 cup granulated sugar

Pinch salt

1 teaspoons grated nutmeg

1.75 ounces vegan butter

3/4 cup almond milk

1 teaspoon yeast

For the Filling:

1.75 ounces vegan butter, softened

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Wash:

1/4 cup almond milk

1 Tablespoon maple syrup

Directions:

In large bowl combine flour, sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In medium saucepan heat butter and milk on medium heat, until butter is melted and mixture is warm to the touch. Remove from heat.

In small bowl, combine yeast and a few Tablespoons of the milk mixture. Stir and let sit until bubbling.

Once yeast is activated and bubbling, add to the flour mixture. Then add the remaining milk mixture and stir to combine.

Once it is too difficult to use the spoon or spatula, switch to using your hands to bring the dough together.

Turn out onto a clean surface and knead until smooth. You can test the dough by slicing with a sharp knife and, if it is full of air bubbles, it is ready and you can stop kneading.

Place the dough into a large bowl and cover with a clean towel. Let rise for one hour.

Towards the end of the rise time, begin making the filling by creaming together the butter, sugar, and cinnamon.

Once dough has risen, roll out into 11″ by 17″ rectangle. Spread filling evenly over rectangle.

Using the long end, begin rolling the dough to form a log.

Slice into equal pieces using a sharp knife or plain floss. Depending on how the dough roll is and the size of the pieces, this will yield 10-12 buns. Place the buns into a parchment-lined baking dish.

Cover with a clean towel and let rise again, for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat oven to 425º F. Brush rolls with wash mixture (almond milk and maple syrup).

Bake rolls at 425º F for about 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden all over the outside.

These rolls are super simple to make and taste so, so good. They are great for holiday brunches and cinnamon rolls are just the best.

*Optional Icing: whisk confectioner’s sugar, almond milk, and vanilla until desired consistency. Top cinnamon rolls for even more sugary goodness!

Hot Cross Buns (vegan)

I don’t celebrate Easter much, but I do enjoy a little something to welcome in Spring. A weekend morning with some hot cross buns is a great way to do that, in my opinion. These are quite simple to make and don’t take nearly as much time as one would expect from an enriched, yeasted dough.

The dried fruit can be whatever you like (I use half raisins and half chopped apricots, but currants are more traditional).

Hot Cross Buns (makes a dozen servings)

Prep Time: 1 1/2-2 hours

Bake Time: 25-30 minutes

Ingredients:

2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup lukewarm water

3/4 cup vanilla almond milk (lukewarm or room temperature)

1/3 cup canola oil (plus a splash extra to coat the bowl)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons orange zest (about the zest of one large orange)

1/4 cup sugar

3 3/4 cups AP Flour

3/4 cup dried fruit of choice

Wash:

2 tablespoons almond milk

1 teaspoon maple syrup

Icing:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons almond milk

Directions:

In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, stir together yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, and lukewarm water. Let sit for a few minutes until bubbling.

While the yeast is activating, in a separate bowl stir together the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest, sugar, and dried fruit.

Once the yeast is quite bubbly and active, add the flour/spice mixture, almond milk, and canola oil. Stir until just combined with a spatula. Begin to “knead” the dough by using the dough hook of the stand mixer on low or medium-low speed.

After about 4-5 minutes, it should be thoroughly combined and somewhat elastic. Use a splash of canola oil to coat the sides of the mixing bowl. Turn the coat to allow the dough to become coated.

Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

Once risen, punch down the dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and divide evenly into 12 pieces. Shape each piece into a round bun, then place into parchment- lined baking dish (10″ x 14″ or 11″ x 13″ both work well).

Cover again with dish towel and let rise for around 30 minutes (dough should mostly spring back when touched). While dough is rising, preheat oven to 375º F.

Make dough wash by mixing together almond milk and maple syrup. Brush onto rolls.

Bake buns for 25-30 minutes, or until golden-brown. This could vary considerably depending on the oven used, so I would recommend checking earlier to ensure they are baking well. The buns will touch while rising and baking, but that is completely normal.

Once the buns are golden-brown and cooked through, remove from oven. Let cool in pan for about 5 minutes, then remove from pan and place on cooling rack, counter, or large cutting board to continue cooling.

Whisk together almond milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla to make icing.

Once the buns are cooled, top with icing using a piping bag or drizzling with a spoon.

Enjoy! These store well in a covered container for 1-2 days, though they will begin to dry out after that. They are best served the same day or the next day.