After a lot of excitement and anticipation, a lot of recipe hunting, and a few days of planning and hard work, I am happy to share that my little Thanksgiving dinner went really well this year. It was a small party, with just me, my mom, and her boyfriend. With even that few people, it was tricky to think of what might please all of us, and also fit in with our individual dietary plans and restrictions. I felt most comfortable going a vegetarian route, but when I also started looking for low-fat options, I realized that vegan dishes were my best bet. So I managed a totally vegan dinner, and it was actually delicious!
I can't take all the credit though. I used an amazing resource online. The New York Times this year published a whole series of excellent articles on vegetarian Thanksgiving ideas and recipes. Everything included is very fancy and festive. I used three of their recipes and they were perfect. Take my advice and bookmark this link that shows all the recipes in one place, or better yet, print the recipes you like just in case they don't stay posted forever.
Here is my menu:
From the New York Times Well's Vegetarian Thanksgiving
- Harvest-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms: "This hearty Thanksgiving entree is made of savory lentil cashew stuffing baked in juicy portobello mushrooms infused with aromatic herbs."
- Carrot-Parsnip Soup with Parsnip Chips: Creamy and delicious soup, and very easy to prepare.
- Cranberry Chutney: A standing mixer is used to very slowly macerate the fresh cranberries in this chutney. They retain their texture and acidity more than they would if cooked.
- Smashed Potatoes with Roasted-Garlic Gravy: The gravy is made by browning vegetables and creating a rich stock that is thickened and blended with roasted garlic cloves.
- Green salad: Lettuce and spinach leaves, blanched asparagus, roasted beet slices (chilled), some home-grown sprouts, sliced radishes, tossed in Bragg's Healthy Vinaigrette.
First, I used Earth Balance in place of butter everywhere that it was needed. It is really similar in taste and consistency, is non-hydrogenated, and has half the saturated fat. Next, if you make the stuffed portobellos dish, I recommend French lentils since they stay firmer and don't break down to mush like the red lentils. If you make the potatoes and gravy dish, the recipe suggests that you leave the skins on the onions when making the stock. I have been making vegetable stocks from scratch for a long time, using my vegetable scraps from cooking, and I had a major breakthrough when I started removing the onion skins. Though they impart a lovely red color to a stock, they ruin it with a harsh bitter taste. The gravy is also a little on the thin side. Next time I would add some more flour.
You may be wondering about dessert. (Major sigh). Dessert was a flop. My plan was to do a vegan pumpkin pie. I thought this would be so incredibly easy. I suppose I was spoiled living in Humboldt County, CA where the Co-op up makes a vegan pumpkin pie that is so good, it doesn't taste different than a traditional recipe. I don't think I appreciated this feat. Now I do. I tried 3 pie recipes. The first one I think called for way too much silken tofu, because the pie filling became a really pale color. And it didn't taste much like pumpkin anymore. I had plenty of time so I decided to try again. I found another tofu recipe, but by then I had serious doubts about tofu so I decided to hedge my bets and also try a recipe that uses a milk of your choice (I used almond milk) and cornstarch. The former one actually had a greenish cast from the tofu; I don't know how that is even possible. And the latter never set up in the middle, even though I let it sit in the fridge overnight. So those ended up in the trash. (If anybody reading this knows the recipe from the Co-op let me know.)
Fortunately we had a lot of big laughs over the pies, so it wasn't bad at all. It was a fun time. I hope everyone else had a great experience too.