Forget The Tofurkey! Ideas And Recipes For A Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Nov 21, 2018

Who says vegetarians can't also have full bellies this Thanksgiving? 

Despite that the holiday's main event — turkey — makes it not-so-friendly to vegans and vegetarians, there are lots of options out there for those who avoid meat, seafood, eggs and milk. 

Here's some advice for those new vegans, people who are suffering to accomodate their vegetarian friends or folks who want to incorporate more color into their Thanksgiving Day meal.

More from Edible South Florida editor Gretchen Schmidt:

The following interview has been edited for clarity and length. 

WLRN: Turkey. That's the traditional thing people love. But you also have people from the Caribbean, Central America, South America and from many other countries in South Florida. What are the things that you hear people like to eat during Thanksgiving that aren't so traditional?

GRETCHEN SCHMIDT: I think a lot of cultures like to put their own spin on it. I think turkey — or lechón, depending on where you come from — has to be there. For me, the root is vegetables. Vegetables that are bathed in butter, horseradish, and dill on top of it.

Gretchen, what about vegetarians? I think you have to replace a lot of the things in a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Do you?

SCHMIDT: You don't need to replace anything. I think it's real common right now to accommodate. Plant-based foods are more popular than they've ever been. It's much more than just a fad, and in any table, you're going to have a few people who are vegetarians and vegans. In our family, we've certainly had that. In the past, it used to be salad and some bread until several years ago we said, "That's not fair, and that's not right." Now we make sure that we have dishes that are really robust, delicious and [something that] everybody eats. Nobody knows they're vegan.

TRY THESE RECIPES

WLRN also asked those who are celebrating without meat about their favorite vegetarian or vegan dishes. These are the recipes we got: 

PECAN PEAR CRUMBLE [Vegan, gluten-free]

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 ripe Bartlett pears, cored and chopped
  • 1/4 large lemon, juiced
  • 4 tablespoons coconut sugar, divided
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons refined coconut oil
  • Maple syrup (optional)

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease/spray a tart pan or 8×8-inch baking dish.
  2. In a medium bowl toss pears, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar to coat. Pour pear mixture into baking dish. Using the same bowl (don’t worry about cleaning it), add oats, pecans, almond flour, remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar, and baking powder. Stir to combine. Using your fingers, pinch and crumble the solid coconut oil and mix until incorporated with oat mixture. Pour oat mixture on top of pears and spread into an even layer.
  3. Bake covered for 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until oat topping is firm and browned.

- Nancy Ehrlich

VEGAN THUMBPRINT JAM COOKIES   INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup nuts (half almonds, half cashews)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • pinch of salt
  • spices: 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/8 tsp ginger 
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • fruit jam 
  • 1 chocolate chip per cookie (optional: make sure they're vegan, not all chocolate chips are)

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Using a food processor, grind nuts and oats into a flour-like consistency.
  3. Add that mixture to the flour.
  4. In separate bowl, whip together the oil, maple syrup and vanilla.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry. Mix with wooden spoon or spatula, etc. Use oil/spray cookie sheet. 
  6. Using wet hands, make walnut-sized balls and put them on cookie sheet. 
  7. Using thumb or a 1/2 tsp measuring spoon, gently make little craters in the center of each cookie (thereby also flattening the cookie a bit). 
  8. Optional: put one chocolate chip in the center of each cookie.
  9. Fill each crater with about a 1/2 tsp of jam.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes, until cookies are golden brown.

- WLRN Editorial Director Alicia Zuckerman 

What will you be cooking for the upcoming holiday? If you have a vegan or vegetarian recipe that you'd like to share, send us an email with the recipe and a photo at TalkToUs@wlrnnews.org with the subject line "Thanksgiving recipe."