A Partially Vegetarian Thanksgiving

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Food stuffed in a pumpkin looks spectacular on a Thanksgiving table. (photo via flickr / courtesy of Laurel Fan)
Food stuffed in a pumpkin looks spectacular on a Thanksgiving table. (photo via flickr / courtesy of Laurel Fan)

“I’m not eating turkey this year,” my son announced, “but you don’t need to make anything special for me.” Long pause. “Unless you want to.”

Okay. Game on.

The truth is it’s not much of a challenge. I grew up in a partially vegetarian household and both my kids have flitted in and out of vegetarianism over the years. While the other truth is that if there were only one turkey left on the planet I’d probably still want to eat it, I like meatless meals and serve them often. Actually, most of the time.

So, what do you do when one or more of the diners around your Thanksgiving table are vegetarian or vegan while the rest are omnivores? Step it up. Sure, there are plenty of traditional side dishes to fill up on, but come on. We can do better than a plate of plain mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.

We can also do much better than Tofurky, although I will be making a vegan loaf. This is a huge hit in our home. It does not taste like meatloaf. It is its own entree and delicious and you have complete control. The Magical Loaf Studio has been on the ‘net for years, offering a brilliant and simple way to put together a vegan loaf tailored to your taste. Pick the ingredients, hit submit, get a recipe. Play around with it. Choose cashews and cumin. Trust me.

There are some really spectacular vegetarian dishes that can easily share top billing with turkey. Check out NPR’s A Vegetarian Thanksgiving, which includes recipes for a Mushroom And Spinach Galette and a Baked Pumpkin With Root Vegetable Stew. The stew is served in the pumpkin. Beautiful.

Vegetarian Comfort Food at Thanksgiving on the New York Times Well blog has this to say:

The traditional Thanksgiving table is filled with comfort foods like cheesy casseroles, creamy potatoes and marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes. But the cookbook authors Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough offer a new spin on traditional comfort foods by packing them with fall vegetables.

Recipes include Zucchini Cakes, Skillet Macaroni and Broccoli and Mushrooms and Cheese and Winter Squash, Onion and Pine Nut Pizza. What kid wouldn’t like the idea of pizza for Thanksgiving?

Martha Stewart’s Vegetarian Thanksgiving show from last year is online and you can watch video clips showing how to make, among other things, a Celery Root, Persimmon, and Swiss Chard “Stuffing” that looks amazing and just might make it on to my table this year.

Finally, check out the Veggie Table for recipes categorized by appetizers, main dishes, side dishes, bread and dessert. A good gratin always works.

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