With 21 meat-free Thanksgivings under my belt, I am confident when I say that vegan/vegetarian Thanksgivings are darn delicious. Now, in my case, I’ve been extremely lucky to come from a long family line of amazing cooks, which has definitely made it easy to feel entirely satisfied with every meal – this filling fall meal in particular! This year it was my turn to sneak into the kitchen to make part of the spread, and with such high standards, I knew I had to be on my game. I started preparations early. Beginning with finding the perfect main dish.
Luckily, I found this mouth-watering recipe from Angela Liddon over at Oh She Glows, which had me very excited as soon as I read the title. Maple Pumpkin Baked Bean Cornbread Casserole. Say that five times fast. Yep, it’s quite a mouthful. Each time I told someone what I was planning to make for Thanksgiving dinner, the words that stumbled out of my mouth were very hilariously wrong. But that is more than okay, as it ended up being so delicious and easy prepare! It even had relatively simple ingredient list and process, something that was crucial as I wouldn’t be in my own kitchen. Plus, all of the flavors are very fall and some of my family’s favorites. Try it any time of the year! I can assure you that you and your family’s tummies will be thankin ya.
For Thanksgiving, my mom always makes brussels sprouts, which I’m crazy about. I used to hate those little baby green brains, but now, because of the way she prepares them at Thanksgiving, I looove them. This isn’t the recipe she usually makes – those are balsamic roasted with dried cranberries – but I approve of these as well. This year, she just stir fried the baby brussels in olive oil, then topped them with toasted pepitas and pomegranate seeds (inspired by this recipe). Such good texture and flavor and color!
My uncle is also talented in the kitchen. (I’m telling you, my family is very blessed with good cooks.) He prepared a dish that was created by my aunt: Roasted Potatoes and Smoky Tempeh Bacon with Cremini Mushrooms. Sooooo good! I think it was fairly low-maintenance, too. Which is always a blessing at Thanksgiving dinner. Just roast the potatoes and onions in the oven, meanwhile sautéing up chunks of tempeh in some olive oil. Throw the cooked tempeh in with everything else, and keep it all warm in the oven until you’re ready to serve!
We are a family of foodies, we needed more food. So, we also picked up a whole spread of pre-ordered dishes from Whole Foods. It’s a really nice way to round out a Thanksgiving dinner if you are running short on time, cooks, or energy. Vegan mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, cinnamon dusted squash, butternut squash with spinach and cranberries, sugar maple green beans, cranberry sauce, wild rice with pearl onions and cranberries, rosemary roasted potato wedges, vegan pumpkin pie - they’ve got it covered (meaning, you’ve got it covered!).
I was just in charge of my one dish for the main meal, so I channeled some extra effort into my dessert. A Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf from Isa (Post Punk Kitchen). I decreased the sugar and changed up the flours to make it gluten free, using a mixture of gluten-free all purpose flour and almond flour. Worked like a charm. It had a nice crust on the outside and was dense and moist on the inside. It was a hit! I’ll definitely be making it again. Next time I’ll increase the cinnamon (it could be a little spicier) and the pumpkin. Otherwise, it’s pretty perfect.
See! No turkey? No problem! Our spread was even pretty darn healthy, making it all the more satisfying when we went back for seconds and thirds, eating as much as we liked! No harm to us or to animals. Win-win!
Overall, it turned out to be one of many amazing days over break. Good family, good conversations, good food. So very thankful for everyone and everything and every bite of this wonderful day.