You’ve invited everyone over for Thanksgiving and now you’re faced with putting together a menu of great vegetarian eats. Becoming bleary-eyed from sorting through your recipe box and scoping out your cookbooks for ideas? Perhaps it’s time to let some experts put together the menu for you…
Let’s start with an historical menu written about in 1941 in the New York Times although, unfortunately, no recipes are included. The 150 attendees feasted on items I’ve never heard of (Tragopogan porrifolius, anyone?) but probably enjoyed this mouth-watering affair (I hope…) From The Food Timeline:
“Even the vegetarians are preparing to be bold trenchermen this Thanksgiving, although without benefit of turkey, stuffed or otherwise…The Thanksgiving menu of the Vegetarian Society of New York, which will gather about 150 strong for its annual dinner today in Schildkraut’s Vegetarian Restaurant…will have its piece de resistance Tragopogan porrifolius. This is better known as salsify, or the “vegetable oyster”; it is a purple flowered herb which grows on Long Island. It will fit as follows into the feast: Vitamin cocktail (saurkraut and tomato juice), Eggplant combination salad, Vegetable consomme, Salsify with red marrow squash, beets and mashed green split peas, Pineapple strudel, Swedish bread and whole wheat breadsticks, beverage.”
—”Herb to be featured at vegetarian feast,” New York Times, November 20, 1941 (p. 36)
Fast forward to modern day, and the grand-pappy of all newspapers comes up with a great series on vegetarian recipes for Thanksgiving. Featuring recipes from various cookbooks and sources, the New York Times shines some light on vegetarian and vegan fare in a very good way. For example, here’s their spread called “Vegetarian Comfort Food at Thanksgiving” . If you’re making this meal, set a place for me. This comfort meal includes:
- Winter Squash, Onion and Pine Nut Pizza
- Garden Vegetable Gratin
- Skillet Macaroni and Broccoli and Mushrooms and Cheese
- Zucchini Cakes
Leave it to the over-achiever Martha Stewart to bring on the vegetarian with menus and more. If you have a few minutes, check out her November 2009 episode which was a Thanksgiving episode devoted entirely to meatless eating. As part of her show she chats with Jonathan Safran Foer author of “Eating Animals” and filmmaker Robert Kenner of Food, INC.
Martha’s website also has several menus including her Fresh and Festive Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu and Hearty Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu. Or, you can scroll through her 22 Meatless Thanksgiving recipes including Butternut Squash and Sage Lasagna, Roasted Pumpkin Soup and Swiss Chard Pie. Make this Martha menu and be sure to decorate your table with some neat napkin folding or a centerpiece made with pine cones and ribbon, else Martha may show up and tell you your dinner is not a Good Thing.
Next we bring the Food Network’s Vegetarian Menu. I like what they’ve done by linking the recipes to videos of various cooks preparing the dishes but I do have some reservations.
To be honest, this menu begins with a bang, spaghetti squash with lemon and capers and vegetarian shephard’s pie. Then, comes the letdown of steamed baby spinach – a recipe with two ingredients, spinach and water. Ok, don’t jump on me for being too critical and forgetting that during preparations for the big meal it’s nice to have a dish that is easy to make. I’d just like to point out that there are other very easy recipes that would have a better flavor profile that would be nice to feature (especially when trying to impress picky carnivores that may turn their nose up at just spinach with no seasoning). But other than that, the menu looks delicious. Oh, also, a heads-up to Food Network, when featuring a vegetarian menu, perhaps a commercial featuring a turkey cooker leading into the vegetarian recipe is not such a great idea…
And, finally, I wanted to feature a menu and wine pairing for a five course vegetarian thanksgiving that is very impressive. Food and Style’s Viviane Bauquet Farre created a menu includes spicy beet-green crostini, endive boats with fresh ricotta and roasted beets, pumpkin soup with citrus-mint pesto, individual gratins with shiitake mushrooms and yukon gold potatoes, and oh so much more. Don’t get overwhelmed, Viviane provides a game plan to help prep the menu in the days before the big meal. I love that this menu pairs with wines from Bonny Doon vineyard. Bonny Doon wines are great…don’t be scared off by the screw tops.
(picture from Food and Style)
If you’re still in the spirit of putting together your own menu, stay tuned, I’ll be following this post up with my annual review of recipes featured here on Veggin’ that are suitable for your Thanksgiving feast.