Wow. Where has this year gone? I have no idea where the time went or how I’ve managed to make it to a week before Thanksgiving without practicing any new recipes for the big day. Last year I was so prepared. I tried out my new recipes (pumpkin crusted tofu instead of turkey, traditional stuffing in an acorn squash, and mom’s apple pie) ahead of time so I knew I wouldn’t be a total disaster on the day of. But this year? I have just been way too busy to do any serious experimentation in time. So instead, I’ve decided to use some past recipes that I know are tried and true. If you’re like me, you’re probably scrambling to come up with some ideas for recipes to feed yourself (and maybe your guests) for this glutton-filled holiday, so maybe I can inspire you with what I’m planning on cooking up… and if you’re not vegan or gluten-free, but have a guest attending your feast who is, check out my favorite vegan and gluten-free substitutes for some tips.
Being with a big group of traditional turkey and stuffing folks last year, I really wanted to make a very traditional meal – just without the turkey. I wanted to prove to everyone that vegans can eat just as well on Thanksgiving as everyone else! And we did. But this year, I’ve really got no one to impress and I want to be a little less traditional, while still getting a bit of tradition in. So let’s get started…with salad.
This is one of my recent creations, a salad that’s not really a salad but plays one on the dinner table some times. The great thing about slaw is that you can use it for pretty much anything and everything. Top a burger with it (hey – no judgement if you go with veggie burgers rather than turkey for Thanksgiving) or eat as-is. It’s a perfect starter and a great way to work a little fall and greens into the meal. For you traditional Thanksgiving eaters out there, it’s also a great side. The cranberries and green apple give the sprouts a sweet and tangy flavor that even kids will like.
As far as sides go, these are one of my all-time favorite creations. Rosemary scalloped sweet potatoes are easy to make, and win over anyone’s palate. I like to make them in individual servings with ramekins, but I’ve also made them in a large baking dish and they turned out just as delicious. Last year for Christmas I brought them to my giant family’s gathering (there are literally 40+ of us) and they were a big hit. Of course, I didn’t tell anyone they were vegan until after. And there was surprise all around. But how could you not love them? They’re creamy, slightly sweet, slightly salty, and full of rosemary flavor. Add a little crisp on top from the baking process and you’ve got a delicious side for everyone at the table.
One of my favorite dishes of all time is my mushroom and cream stuffed pumpkin. This also has a strong rosemary flavor and will compliment the sweet potatoes really well. It takes a little prep time to soak the almonds and cashews, but this is Thanksgiving! We’re all prepping things ahead of time, right? The mushrooms are a great way to add a bit of “meaty” texture and filling to the overall meal and I could definitely use this recipe, on top of some rice and kale for the main dish. Instead, I think I’ll use it as a side so I have more leftovers. Because isn’t one of the best things about Thanksgiving the leftovers?
For the main dish, I’ve decided to go with my meatloaf. It might seem strange to do this for Thanksgiving, but it’s a delicious and super filing meat-alternative that’s pretty darn simple to make. And remember how I feel about leftovers? There’ll be food for days and days with this feast. Made of a mixture of lentils, walnuts and mushrooms, this loaf holds together well and satisfies even the largest appetite. I don’t plan on missing the turkey one bit!
What Thanksgiving meal is complete without pie? While is is not one of my recipes, I actually used this recipe two years ago for Thanksgiving, before my blog existed. Emily over at This Rawsome Vegan Life has developed a real winner with this amazing simple and delicious pie. It’s gluten-free, using nuts and dates for a crust, and the only labor intensive part of it is manhandling the sugar pumpkin. I can say, it was the first recipe I’ve ever used a real un-canned pumpkin for and I was so proud of myself when it turned out perfectly. That said, I’ve also used canned pumpkin in the recipe and that works just as well. In any case, it’s the perfect end to a gluttonous meal. I’m already looking forward to the leftovers!