Talking Tofurky: When Vegetarians Come to Your Thanksgiving Dinner

November 19, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Article

Thanksgiving is a time for family and feasting. In most households, the turkey is the spotlight in the middle of the table. And, when you’ve got a non-meat eater at table, some cooks get thrown into a panic because they have trouble thinking beyond the turkey. I’ve written about it before and I’ve written about it again, but it continues to be one of the most frequent questions I get: I’ve got a vegetarian coming over for dinner, what do I do?

I understand completely, cooking outside your comfort zone can be daunting. To have to whip up new things that are pleasing for a crowd can make anyone anxious. Trust me, the last thing the vegetarian wants to do is make you nervous about serving them or make you have to go through extra work. With just a few small adjustments, considerations and changes you’ll be A-OK. And, you’ll make it through the holiday just fine.

  • Find out early in your planning process what “kind” of vegetarian they are. Some will eat eggs, some will not. You’ll also need to find out if they are a vegan so you can make further adjustments to your cooking. It may seem like a daunting question, but the answer you get will help you focus on what you’ll need to prepare for. It’s basically equivalent to finding out that Uncle Bernie is allergic to walnuts or Grandma is a diabetic.
  • Ask the vegetarian what they like most about the Thanksgiving meal and ask them for their favorite recipes.  I’m sure they’d be glad to share. In fact, if feasible, I bet they’d love to contribute something to the meal. The more non-meat dishes you have on the table the better!
  • Remember that vegetarian and vegan food is edible, interesting and delicious. The other people at the table will also be eating it, as well. I say that because you need to be mindful of portions. As a vegetarian, side dishes for omnivores become our main dishes. That said, try to steer the meat-free dishes first to the vegetarian so that they can get enough on their plate. I’ve gotten worried a couple times when the vegetarian dish rolls around the table and hits me last leaving me to scrape out a couple spoonfuls.
  • Don’t blindly invest in a Tofurky. While they may be a whimsical and fun item, they really are a matter of taste and should not be a substitute for other dishes that would be more appealing. Unless the vegetarian thinks it’s a good idea, just don’t do it. Trust me.
  • I’ve talked about this a lot on Veggin’ but it bares repeating: chicken stock and beef stock are not vegetarian friendly. And, please, don’t try to hide it or pass something off as meat-free when you’ve used it. I’ve been victim of an upset tummy or two because someone swore it was vegetarian but didn’t tell me that chicken stock was used. If the only meat item in your recipe is the broth, you can easily substitute the meat broth for a vegetarian stock. (It’s in the same place you find your meat stock.)

Tofurky: It may seem like an easy and attractive solution...not so.

  • Get creative. Consider doing baked potatoes and provide various toppings that your guests can use including vegan toppings (sour crea, butter) to choices for gravy. Make some corn on the cob and have a choice of unique seasonings. Have a selection of breads and crackers and provide various flavored olive oils for dipping.
  • Many stores now have an organic section. There you’ll find a lot of products labeled vegan or vegetarian – sauces, gravies, ingredients, etc. Use those products for inspiration as many already have recipes on the back.
  • One thing that I like is when my host pulls me into the kitchen and points out (before it goes on the table) what’s meat-free. That way, the host doesn’t have to go through the big announcement and explanation in the middle of the meal. The other guests won’t get distracted, can eat what they want without the interruption of, “Hey, Megabeth! You can eat, this, this and this. But, not this. So sorry!”

In the end, the adjustments you make to your recipes and dishes you serve could be such a hit that you may put them into your regular cooking rotation.

Now that you’ve armed yourself with some tips and tricks, it’s time to check out some Thanksgiving recipes courtesy of Veggin’.

I wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!


Veggin’ Recipes Suitable for Thanksgiving

Also, check out my archives for more ideas.

Vegan Gravy: The Best Vegan Cheesy Gravy Recipe Ever



Side Dishes

Main Dish





Vegetarian and Vegan Halloween Tricks and Treats

October 29, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Article, Other

Trick or treat, indeed. Strange weather brewing in the DC area today. Folks are enjoying the Halloween weekend with some early snowfall. I guess I need to head down into the basement to dig out my snowboots. No time to be in the kitchen today, instead I bring to you this Halloween post from my archives with vegan and vegetarian spooky food ideas.


Baked Asparagus with Garlic

June 10, 2008 By: Megabeth Category: Side Dishes

This is the easiest way I’ve found to make asparagus. All you need is some fresh asparagus, olive oil and garlic. The preparation is fast and while it’s in the oven I can start working on other dishes.

Wash the asparagus.

Asparagus and Garlic Preparation

Break off the woody ends of the asparagus. Hold both ends of the spear, bend it until it snaps. It will break at a natural breaking point.

Preparing Asparagus Preparing Asparagus

Preparing Asparagus

Pour a little olive oil into the bottom of a pyrex baking dish. Add minced or chopped garlic. Line the asparagus in the pan and roll them around so they get covered evenly by the oil and the garlic.

Asparagus and Garlic Preparation

Cover the dish with foil and put in a preheated 350 degree oven. (The foil holds in the steam so that the asparagus doesn’t dry out.)

Asparagus and Garlic Preparation

About 20-30 minutes later pull out asparagus, remove foil, then put back into the oven.

Asparagus and Garlic

Cook aspargus until you can easily put a fork into it and the tips are starting to brown a little bit – usually another 5-10 minutes.

Asparagus and Garlic

Serve and enjoy.

Asparagus and Garlic

Spring Onion and Tomato Curry

June 06, 2008 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes

Tomato and Spring Onion Curry

This recipe comes from a great Indian recipe site called Recipe Den.

I wanted to use the spring onions from this delivery along with tomatoes I picked up at the farmers market yesterday.

Recipe Den used terms for the spices that I was unfamiliar with. With a quick google search I was able to find all the equivalents and was surprised I had it all on had. Yes, surprisingly, I even had the asafoetida.

asafoeda or hing

I also doubled the recipe since I had a lot of spring onions and two tomatoes on hand. You’ll see my notes to the original recipe in italics below.

Spring Onion and Tomato Curry
Spring Onions – 2 bunches (I used four bunches)
Tomato – 1 medium (I used two)
mustard seeds -1tsp (2tsp)
jeera -1 tsp (jeera = cumin, 2 tsp)
salt acc to taste
red chili powder – 1tsp (2 tsp)
haldi – 1/4th tsp (haldi = tumeric, 1/2 tsp)
hing- a pinch (hing = aasafoetida, two pinches)
oil as required

Spices for Tomato and Spring Onion Curry

Tomato and Spring Onion Curry Preparation

-Heat oil add jeera (cumin) ,mustard seeds and a pinch of hing (asafoetida) and fry
Tomato and Spring Onion Curry Preparation
-Add the chopped spring onions , salt and haldi (tumeric) and fry for 5min.
Tomato and Spring Onion Curry Preparation
-Add the finely chopped tomatoes and cook for another 10 min. The tomatoes will begin to break down and become mushier.
Tomato and Spring Onion Curry Preparation Tomato and Spring Onion Curry Preparation
-Add the red chilli powder and little water and cook till done.

Tomato and Spring Onion Curry Preparation

Although I doubled the recipe, I could have afforded to triple it. The final amount was the perfect portion for two people to eat as a side dish.

Tomato and Spring Onion Curry

This received a literal thumbs-up by my in-house taste tester.

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