Having vegetarians over for Thanksgiving dinner? Don’t panic – here’s a dish that will be a success all around.
By Jerri Green
I always find it strange when a turkey gets ceremoniously pardoned by the president this time of year. “Here ya go, Mr. Turkey. You are free. Now we are going to go eat your friends.” And what does the bird think about all that pomp and circumstance? Its all kinda bizarre.
But for many Americans, Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be the same without a golden bird on the table. Deep fried or baked and basted for hours, it is tradition. But, what do you do when a vegetarian shows up for your holiday celebration? What on earth will you make for them? Don’t fret. I’m here to help.
The short answer is not turkey. Or tofurkey. Or anything like that in my opinion. Most vegetarians didn’t change their diet to eliminate meat because they love the taste or texture of it. So, just don’t bother with fake versions of what your might consider the center piece of your Thanksgiving meal. We could really care less about it.
So, what to serve? Let’s start with the side dishes. Traditional ones are fantastic, like green bean casserole or yams. However, please be sure not to add those marshmallows on top. They are made from hooves and bones. (Sorry if I just ruined that for you, but you will ruin the dish for us if you put them on there.) Cranberry sauce – the real stuff, not the gelatin, is also great. And we like stuffing too. But again, if it is cooked with the turkey or in some sort of animal broth, we aren’t gonna eat it. My Whole Foods store has vegetarian friendly pre-made stuffing that you can buy. If all else fails, Stove Top can be whipped up in ten minutes in a small pot just for us. Non-traditional dishes can also be a hit with vegetarians – think corn souffle, mac and cheese, scalloped potatoes, creamed spinach, wild rice, etc. Of course, there are other things we can eat too. Like the snacks beforehand, veggies and dip or cheese and crackers or even deviled eggs, are good. Buttery rolls are also wonderful. Sliced cinnamon baked apples are easy. Pumpkin, sweet potato, or pecan pies are vegetarian friendly too. With any of these we are sure to stay stuffed without any bird on our plate. Trust me.
Here’s a few more tips. As a vegetarian, I love when people ask me to bring something. So consider doing this too. I am more than happy to make a couple things so that I know I can have something to eat and at the same time not overwhelm my host. If your vegetarian can’t bring anything because they are traveling, let me suggest this. Write out your menu. Then mark off any meat dishes or ones with chicken broth, etc. Now survey what’s left. Would that be enough to fill you up? Too many starches? Add in a salad maybe? One with cranberries and pecans could be great. Just put yourself in our shoes.
Still looking for something specific? Try this stuffed acorn squash recipe:
- 2 winter squash, halved
- 4 tblsp of butter
- 1 box of stuffing
- ⅓ cup baking raisins
- herbed goat cheese for topping
- Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Place on a lined baking sheet cut side up. Place one tblsp of butter in each half. Bake at 400 degrees for one hour. Remove from oven and set aside to cool a bit. Make stuffing according to package. Stir in raisins. (note: baking raisins are more juicy and will taste better in this dish than regular dried ones.) Scoop stuffing into each squash half. Top with goat cheese and serve.
Jerri Green is a vegetarian that lives with and loves a self-proclaimed carnivore. She makes meals work for everyone while juggling the mounting demands of motherhood. Nothing fancy but always fresh, she draws on her southern heritage to bring satisfying food to the table each and everyday.