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Wichitan's Guide to a Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Fall has arrived, the leaves are turning color, the morning air is nice and crisp, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Thoughts of turkeys dance in your head and visions of family and friends sitting around the table...when suddenly, you find out A VEGETARIAN IS COMING!

Panic sets in as you wonder what you will feed them?! 

If you would rather pick up prepared food to heat up you have a couple of options. Natural Grocers carries a Celebration Roast (our personal favorite), Quorn Turk’y Style Roast, Tofurkey Stuffed Vegetarian Roast and Holiday Vegetarian Feast in their refrigerated section.

Whole Foods Market, on the other hand, has a menu in which you can order pre-cooked and ready-to-serve food just like a traditional pre-cooked Thanksgiving meal. Menu items includes Gardein Stuffed Vegan Turk’y, Gardein Vegan Holiday Roast, several sides to choose from and even a Vegan Pumpkin Pie! Or you can choose a Vegan Meal for two and take the guesswork out of what to buy.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Meal Recipes

Here are a few of our family's favorite Thanksgiving meals. You can usually buy these ingredients at Dillon's or you can get them at just about any grocery store.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Sweet Balsamic Glaze

Vegetarian Roasted Cauliflower

Ingredients

3 tablespoons raisins
Balsamic Glaze, for soaking raisins and to drizzle over salad
1 head cauliflower, separated into bite-sized florets
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup water
1 sweet onion, sliced thin
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup loosely packed, finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
½ cup loosely packed, finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup pecan halves, toasted
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
Sea salt, to taste

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 400F and set out a large baking sheet.

Add 1/2 cup water, 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze and raisins to a small bowl. Set aside.

Add cauliflower florets, cooked chickpeas, onion, oil, cumin, salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder to the large baking sheet and stir with your hands until all pieces are coated in oil. Slide the baking sheet in the oven and roast veggies for 30 minutes, rotating once, or until cauliflower tops are lightly blackened. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

While veggies are roasting, place pecans in a dry sauté pan or skillet over a medium heat. Stir continuously until light brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

Strain raisins. Add everything to a large bowl: roasted veggies, parsley, cilantro pecans and soaked raisins. Stir to coat, drizzle balsamic glaze over top of salad, add salt to taste and serve!

Savory Lentil Loaf with Cherry Pecan Stuffing, Balsamic Apple Glaze and Wild Mushroom Gravy

Savory Lentil Loaf

Lentil Loaf Ingredients

1 cup uncooked green lentils
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup pecans, finely chopped and toasted
3 tbsp chia seeds + 1/2 cup water
3 clove garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups diced sweet onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrot
1/3 cup peeled and grated sweet apple
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup oat flour or oatmeal
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
3/4 teaspoons dried thyme
sea salt & fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Balsamic Apple Glaze Ingredients

1/4 cup ketchup
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp apple butter
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F. Rinse and strain lentils. Place lentils into a pot along with 3 cups of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and season with salt. Reduce heat to medium/low and simmer, uncovered, until fully cooked. Strain immediately.

Toast pecans in a dry sauté pan or skillet until light brown, set aside.

Whisk chia seeds with water in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté garlic and onion until soft. Season with salt. Now add in the diced celery, carrot, apple, and raisins. Sauté for 5 minutes more. Remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Grease a loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Press mixture firmly into pan. Whisk glaze ingredients and then spread half on top of the loaf. Reserve the rest to serve.

Bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes, uncovered. Edges will be lightly brown. Cool in pan for at least minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Slice once cooled.

Vegetarian Stuffing

Cherry Pecan Stuffing

Ingredients

1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 rib celery, chopped
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
3 ounces whole wheat bread or cornbread cut into small cubes
1/3 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon whole chia seeds
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

Heat olive oil in large skillet, over medium heat. Sauté the onion, garlic and celery until onion is becoming translucent. Add the mushrooms, thyme, sage, salt and pepper and cover. Cook until mushrooms release their juices, about 3-5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir until broth is absorbed and stuffing is moist. Remove from heat and keep covered.

Serve the stuffing between two slices of lentil loaf, covered with wild mushroom gravy. 

Vegetarian Wild Mushroom Gravy

Ingredients

2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons vegan margarine
8 oz mixed wild mushrooms
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced green onion
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water

Instructions

Add vegetable broth, soy sauce, margarine, minced garlic and green onion to saucepan, over medium-high heat. Gently stir until margarine melts and broth begins to boil. Add mushrooms and reduce heat to medium and let simmer.

Mix cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper to a small bowl with cold water. Whisk and set aside.

When liquid and mushrooms in saucepan have reduced by 1/3, raise heat to high and allow to bubble. Slowly pour cornstarch mixture into saucepan, whisking until thickened.

Remove immediately from heat and cover.

My First Vegetarian Thanksgiving

I was still living in California with my mother when I convinced her to not get a turkey. I had read that some vegetarians would stuff a pumpkin at Thanksgiving, instead of a turkey.

Wanting to be a proper vegetarian, I was sure that we needed to do this! We stuffed the pumpkin with a nice rice mixture containing raisins and almonds. The first mistake was using the whole bag of rice, it spilled over and made a wonderful mess. After cooking all day, I could hardly contain my excitement and hurriedly took a bite of my stuffed pumpkin. Wow! It was one of the worst things I had ever tasted. My mother and I then agreed that we would never do that again.

Many years later and lucky me, I married a vegan who loves to cook!

From our table to yours, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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