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:

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!

Puff Pastry Tarts with Orange-Lemon Curd

Lemon curd and puff pastry go quite well together. The pastry brings a rich flavor from the fat, as well as a light crispness from the layers. Add in lemon curd and it cuts that richness with a sweet and tart flavor. It brings a textural element as well, contrasting the crisp pastry with a smooth filling.

I used my puff pastry recipe and this lemon curd recipe from the Domestic Gothess, though I replaced half the lemon with orange zest and juice. The lemon curd recipe was pretty good, though I would probably use coconut cream if I make it again because it was definitely missing some depth of flavor that more fat could have provided.

How I made these!

Thaw puff pastry dough

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roll out pastry until about 1/3 inch thick. Cut out circles with circle cutter (mine is 1 1/2 inches). Using a sharp knife, score a smaller circle inside, leaving about a half- inch border.

Place on parchment-lined baking sheet, then chill for a few more minutes (this helps firm the fat in the dough so it doesn’t just melt out, but instead steams up and rises the pastry).

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until very golden.

Once cooled, remove the inner circle.

Place lemon curd inside and you’re done! This could easily be topped with some vegan whipped cream.

Hopefully you enjoy this! 🍋🍊🥐

Vegan Puff Pastry

I have always liked to bake and especially enjoy making my own puff pastry. Puff pastry isn’t traditionally vegan (in fact it’s meant to have an exorbitant amount of butter in it). However, it actually translates quite well to a vegan recipe because it just require the substitution of vegan butter.

The “puff” reaction comes from the layers of melting fat producing steam, which causes a rapid rise during baking. This isn’t dependent on the fat being butter, so the same results are produced with vegan puff pastry!

The recipe and technique are both much simpler than many people would have you believe, so if you’re interested in making homemade puff pastry don’t worry about the difficulty!

Vegan Puff Pastry

Servings: varied (depends on what you’re making!)

Prep. Time: 1 hour + 30 min

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1 cup water

1 cup (2 sticks) vegan butter

Directions:

1. Let butter soften until it is able to be shaped. Place between two pieces of parchment paper and pound with a rolling pin until it is a flat square about 1/2 inch thick. Place in fridge while preparing dough.

2. In a stand mixer or medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Then add water and stir with a spoon until it begins to come together. Finish by kneading with your hands a few times (until completely incorporated).

3. Roll dough into a long rectangle, large enough to seal in the butter block. Take butter block from fridge and seal into the dough.

4. Roll out dough, with butter encased, until about 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Fold lengthwise into thirds. Repeat the rolling and folding once more, then wrap and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

5. After 30 minutes, roll and fold dough two more times. Chill for 30 more minutes.

6. Roll and fold dough two last times. There should be a total of 6 “turns” (times rolling and folding) total.

7. If using within the next 24 hours, refrigerate. Otherwise, puff pastry easily keeps wrapped well and frozen for a month.

Hopefully this explanation made sense! I actually made a video here that shows the process, so if this explanation is confusing that may help.

If anyone tries this and has any questions, feel free to ask 🙂

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 🍕