Vegetarian Thanksgiving: A Feast Fit for Everyone

November 24, 2013 By: Megabeth Category: Recipe

Vegetarian ThanksgivingSee that picture above? First, I’ll apologize for it being a little blurry. You see, I had to take it quickly because I had a line of hungry people behind me. But, I wanted to show you, my dear Veggin’ readers, the spread of food that we had where everything was vegetarian for Thanksgiving…except for the turkey. We managed to please all the omnivores, carnivores, flexitarians, 10-year-old picky eaters and vegetarians in the bunch. (We didn’t have any vegans, but I know with a few quick and easy switches, they would have left the table full and satisfied!)

This feast was accomplished with some quick planning and a few simple switches such as using vegetable broth instead of a meat based broth. Checking to make sure the stuffing didn’t have any meat products in it. And, cooking a variety of flavor profiles and interesting combinations such as a vinegary celery root salad and a creamy green bean casserole. (Because it’s not Thanksgiving until you’ve eaten half a container of fried onions…) And, having a vegetarian gravy option available. (It also helped having the 10-year-olds pitch in with some of the cooking so they were more interested in trying the final product.)

Also, I tried for the first time Gardein breaded turk’y cutlets. It comes with a vegetarian gravy that had a nice peppery flavor. I sauteed the cutlets in some olive oil. I’d have to say it’s a winner hands-down over Tofurky. While I usually don’t need a meat substitute, this was a good substitute for turkey.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Vegetarian recipes featured above:

And, here are some previous columns you can peruse providing even more vegetarian Thanksgiving tips, tricks, ideas and recipes.

Other Thanksgiving posts featured on Veggin’:

I hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


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





A Very Vegetarian Thanksgiving: Menu Planning

November 05, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Article

DC Green Festival

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.

What to do when Faced with Feeding a Vegetarian on Thanksgiving

November 23, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Article, Main Dishes, Salads, Side Dishes, Snacks/Appetizers

Oh no! You’re faced with feeding a vegetarian on Thanksgiving. Let’s take this from the top…as I’ve said before – first of all…relax! .

Most vegetarians really don’t want to cause any trouble for any host. You’ll also find that many vegetarian dishes will satisfy the most ardent of carnivores so you really don’t have to put in any extra work. Last year, I put together a series of tips and thoughts on how to survive Thanksgiving with a vegetarian sitting at your table. You’ll find that prepping for a vegetarian really is not that bad. Read through that article and come back here where you’re done.

Now…last year, I also put together a list of recipes that would be suitable for your feast. Here’s an updated list of suggestions since I have another year’s worth of recipes to draw from. So,  now that the panic has subsided, you can step away from the Tofurky, create some spectacular vegetarian dishes and enjoy the holiday.


Snacks/First Course/Other

Suitable for Main Course

Side Dishes – Potatoes/Pasta/Grains

Side Dishes – Lentils/Beans

Side Dishes – Vegetables

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