I’ve been a vegetarian since 1971—my entire adult life. I’ve never had a problem eating Thanksgiving dinner. I just avoid the turkey and make a veggie dish containing protein. The benefit is that, although tryptophan—the essential amino acid in turkey—won’t be surging through my body to promote serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter—I will be getting more antioxidants and fiber than most people enjoying the holiday feast.
Whether you eat turkey or not, are a vegetarian or not, here are some great veggie dishes worth trying. I’ve listed them in order from appetizer, salad, muffins, entree, side dishes, and dessert to make a complete vegetarian Thanksgiving/holiday feast.
These two appetizer recipes are a throwback to the 70s. They are still delicious! Serve before your feast, while you are busy in the kitchen with final preparations. All recipes are gluten-free except for the pumpernickel dip, which can be made gluten-free if the dip is put into a bowl or gluten-free hollowed out bread.
- 1 can artichokes, drained and cut into small pieces.
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- Blend all ingredients together.
- Sprinkle paprika on top. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
- Serve with crackers, veggies, etc.
- 3 cups sour cream (1 large container) or plain Greek yogurt
- 3 cups mayonnaise
- 4 tsps dried dill weed
- 1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
- 1 tsp. celery seed
- 4 Tbs. dried onion flakes
- 4 Tbs dried parsley flakes
- Blend together and refrigerate overnight or for several hours so flavors blend.
- Scoop out the center of a round pumpernickel or sour dough bread. Fill with the dip.
- Serve with raw veggies that can be dipped into the bread.
Green salad with “cutie” mandarin oranges—serves 4-6
- 1 or 2 heads of Butterhead lettuce
- 3 mandarin sectioned oranges or 1 can of mandarin oranges, drained
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 2 Tbs sugar
- 1 cup celery, diced
- sliced red onion (optional)
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
- In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, oranges, and sliced onions.
- Heat sugar and almonds in a pan over medium heat until sugar melts and coats almonds; stir and heat until almonds are slightly brown.
- Turn onto plate and cool for 10 minutes.
- Combine remaining ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid; shake vigorously.
- Pour salad dressing over lettuce mixture; toss.
- Sprinkle with sugared almonds.
Gluten-free Flax Meal Muffins
- ¾ cup brown rice flour
- ¾ cup buckwheat flour
- ½ cup ground flaxseed
- ½ cup date sugar (or sweetener of your choice)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup raisins
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup oil of your choice (coconut, avocado, etc.)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 cup buttermilk or coconut milk
- Preheat oven to 375º. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with unbleached paper liners and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, flaxseed, sweetener, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and raisins.
- In a second large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, applesauce and buttermilk. Add flour mixture to buttermilk mixture and stir until just combined.
- Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
- Cool muffins in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Kale Slab Pie (adapted from a recipe by Arthi Subramaniam) serves 12
- 3 bunches of kale—tear the leaves off the stems, or 2 pounds of Swiss chard
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 1 bunch scallion, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground pepper to taste (divided)
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups coarsely ground cornmeal (polenta style)
- 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds for garnish
- Blanch kale leaves in salted boiled water for about 4 minutes. Transfer wilted greens to a bowl of cold water. Drain and squeeze out moisture. Chop and set aside.
- Heat 4 Tbs of olive oil over medium heat in a skillet, add onion. Cook, stirring until tender, about 8 minutes.
- Add scallions and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in kale, dill and mint. Add red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste, and combine well. (I don’t add salt because I think there’s another salt in the cheese.) Remove from heat and let kale mixture cool.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13-by-9pinch rectangular pan with remaining oil (1 Tbs plus 1 tsp.)
- In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Gently and slowly add polenta and 1-2 tsp. of salt. Stir continuously so it doesn’t lump until thick. Spread in the pan, like a crust.
- Add feta and mozzarella cheese to kale mixture; lightly combine well. Spread evenly over the polenta crust. Cover the dish with foil, loosely, and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until top is slightly brown. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 30 minutes. Garnish with the pomegranate seeds. Allow the slab pie to “rest” for about 30 minutes before serving.
Veggie side dish
Roasted Cauliflower serves 6
- 2 heads cauliflower cut into florets
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 2 Tbs pine nuts
- 1/2 cup raisins soaked in hot water
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- In a large bowl, toss cauliflower, 1/4 cup olive oil, curry powder, salt and pepper. Spread onto a pan and roast for 10 minutes. Toss and then roast another 10 minutes until slightly golden, about 2 minutes.
- Toast the pine nuts in a toaster oven, making sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Drain the raisins. Toss the cauliflower with the pine nuts and cauliflower.
Butternut Squash Risotto serves 4
- 1 butternut squash baked and scooped
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 6 cup of vegetable stock or water
- 6 Tbs unsalted butter
- 2 large shallots, minced
- 1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup of white wine
- 1 tsp saffron threads
- 1 cup of grated parmesan
- Heat oven to 450 degrees. Peel squash and cut into cubes, discarding stringy center and seeds. Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet and roast 30 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat stock and simmer.
- In a large pot, melt butter and add shallots for 10 minutes. Add rice and coat with butter.
- Add wine and cook 2 minutes.
- Add 2 full ladles of stock to rice plus saffron, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Stir and simmer until stock is absorbed. Continue to add stock until almost all is used, cooking about 30 minutes.
- Turn off heat and add squash and Parmesan cheese.
For dessert enjoy apple pie, pumpkin pie or simple baked apples with ice cream or cream.
- 3 pounds apples peeled, cored, sliced (Honeycrisp, Gala, or Granny Smith, or a mixture of 2 or all 3)
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Peel the apples, cut and remove the core and cut into slices about 1/3-1/2 an inch thick.
- Put the apples to a large bowl and add the light brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Stir to combine. Spoon the apples into a 2 quart baking dish.
- Cut the butter into small squares, and place over the apples.
- Bake for 30 minutes, stirring after the apples have baked for 15 minutes. This prevents apples on the top from drying. Bake until the apples are tender and soft.
- Remove and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Serve warm.
Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving!
Barbra Cohn cared for her husband Morris for 10 years. He passed away from younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2010. Afterward, she was compelled to write “Calmer Waters: The Caregiver’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s & Dementia”–winner of the 2018 Book Excellence Award in self-help– in order to help other caregivers feel healthier and happier, have more energy, sleep better, feel more confident, deal with feelings of guilt and grief, and to ultimately experience inner peace. “Calmer Waters” is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Boulder Book Store, Tattered Cover Book Store, Indie Bound.org, and online at Target and Walmart, and many other fine independent bookstores, as well as public libraries.