Our (mostly) Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I love the idea of coming together with family and friends to share a meal and focus on our many reasons to be grateful. While I am a vegetarian, my husband and children are not. Without the centerpiece of turkey on my plate (I substitute with "nurkey") my focus has always been on the side dishes. While the decadence of the carb-bomb of Thanksgivings past is certainly something I have enjoyed, these days I try to make a more healthy-ish meal. Without completely tossing the carbs, my compromise is to up the vegetable quotient of the dishes I serve. 

Below is the tried-and-true menu of recipes compiled over the years that we will be having at our house:

Appetizers

Baked Brie en Croûte with Apple Compote by Williams Sonoma

Parsnip "Chips" and Vegetable Crudités served with Tzatziki Sauce (store-bought is fine or there is a good NY Times Cooking recipe here

*For the chips: using a vegetable peeler, peel the parsnips into long strips and fry in grapeseed oil until they just start to brown and crisp up; let cool on a paper towel and season with a sprinkling of kosher salt to taste). For the crudités, sliced red, yellow, and orange peppers are nice, as well as small carrots and radishes.

Side Dishes

Macaroni and Three Cheeses by David Walzog for Food & Wine, aka Cauleen’s Mac n’ Cheese

*A delicious Food & Wine recipe; it is named in our house after the dear friend that made it for us the first time. (V) For vegetarians like me, replace the Worcestershire sauce with vegetarian Worcestershire or soy sauce.

Mashed Potatoes with Crème Fraîche and Chives by Rachel Soszynski for Food & Wine

*In our house, this dish is usually served with Whole Foods’ vegetarian mushroom gravy (I go with this store-bought option as it is delicious and I don't think I could improve on it). Look for it in the deli area of your local Whole Foods.

Cranberry-Pomegranate Sauce by Melissa Rubel Jacobson for Food & Wine

*Love this sweet and tangy pomegranate sauce with added tartness from pomegranate juice and added texture and pop from fresh pomegranate seeds. I like to mix in some orange and lemon peel zest (~1/4 tsp each) before cooking.

My Dad’s Nurkey

Growing up, my dad always made “nurkey” for thanksgiving, a delicious combination of savory tofu (made with the same seasonings and herbs one might use on a turkey) and stuffing. It's a "secret" family recipe, but imagine sautéing cubes of tofu in sage, rosemary, garlic, onions, and white wine, then finishing with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast and combining with your favorite stuffing in a casserole dish to be baked off briefly in the oven before serving. Yum. 

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Garlic by Mark Bittman for NY Times Cooking 

Simple, Steamed Haricot Verts (steam haricot verts for about 5-6 minutes, making sure they are still a vibrant green and just tender; serve with butter, squeezed lemon, salt, and pepper)

Kale Slaw with Red Cabbage and Carrots by Martha Stewart

*Though this Martha Stewart recipe is called a slaw, we treat it like a salad in our house. We have taken to adding about a half a cup or so of fresh pomegranate seeds to the salad at the end. They add a nice pop of texture and tangy sweetness. The combination of the kale and cabbage, along with the sunflower, hemp, and pumpkin seeds, and the tart dijon mustard and apple-cider vinegar dressing, makes a super crunchy, healthy, AND delicious salad (even my kids love it). 

For the Omnivores

+My good friend will be bringing a turkey and gravy this year for the meat eaters, and my southern husband will be honoring his family tradition by serving a honey ham. 

Dessert

+Pecan and pumpkin pies (store-bought as I am no baker) with vanilla ice cream.

+My friend will also be bringing banana pudding, based on a family recipe. 

Specialty cocktail

Blood Orange-Rosemary Fizz by Athena Calderone for Food & Wine

+Nonalcoholic version for us non-drinkers (simply skip the Aperol and add sparking water instead of prosecco)

Happy eating and thanks-giving!

Esha/Enriched Family

 My oldest daughter taste testing the cranberry-pomegranate sauce, Thanksgiving 2012

My oldest daughter taste testing the cranberry-pomegranate sauce, Thanksgiving 2012