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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
 Vegetarian Cooking with Zel


While Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November, Canadians hold their day of thanks for the bountiful harvest more than a month earlier, on the second Monday in October.

My new cookbook, Vegan for the Holidays, was released just in time for the Canadian Thanksgiving celebration in 2012! I'm thrilled to share three beautiful dishes from the book that capture the spirit of the early harvest. Each of the recipes can be prepared and enjoyed throughout the autumn season, but they're especially ideal for American Thanksgiving, too.

I know many home cooks who find it easy to create tasty appetizers to begin the feasting and a host of colorful side dishes to round out the meal. The bigger challenge lies in coming up with a knock-your-socks-off, show-stopper main dish.

Vegan for the Holidays rushes to the rescue with a flavor-drenched entrée anyone would be proud to serve. Gorgeous, tall, and stately, Savory Lentil Terrine with Mushroom Wine Sauce receives high ratings from all who have joined my family for past Thanksgiving dinners. Prepare the dish a day ahead, pop it into the oven for a quick reheating, and let the feasting begin!

When unadorned, simply steamed vegetables appear on the Thanksgiving table, they may or may not entice finicky eaters. But with just a few innovative touches, like cutting the vegetables in different shapes, or splashing them with a tasty sauce, you might tempt the reluctant tasters.

Admittedly, plain steamed carrots are rarely exciting, but transform them dramatically by cutting the carrots in long, thin strips and oven-steaming them. Then, bathe them in a fruity glaze and present a striking dish of Orange-Ginger Glazed Carrots, a tasty, bright and cheery accompaniment to the lentil terrine.

The grand feast concludes with a treasured dessert that has earned a revered place in the hearts of Thanksgiving celebrants--pumpkin pie, of course! Williamsburg Pumpkin Pie has all the charm and spicy flavors that make the pie an annual tradition.

Today vegans need no longer "make do" with a bowl of beans and rice or steamed vegetables of past celebrations. Those are perfectly delicious foods any time of year, but for Thanksgiving, we must kindle fresh ideas for something more lavish and innovative.

The harvest feast needs the magic of decadence and deserves every little bit of fussing you can muster. After all, it's not everyday dining. Bring a little flamboyance to the celebration. Dress that pumpkin pie with a fluffy Satin Whipped Cream and let it be devoured!

Savory Lentil Terrine


Served on a footed cake plate, this captivating lentil pie takes center stage on the Thanksgiving table. Topping off this exceptional entrée is a dramatic spiral of sweet potato slices. To ease the holiday preparations, both the sauce and the lentil terrine can be prepared a day ahead. To reheat the terrine, cover it with aluminum foil, and pop it into a preheated 350 degree F. oven. Warm it for 15 to 20 minutes. The sauce can be quickly warmed on the stovetop.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    1/2 cup (120 ml) pearl barley
    5 cups (1.25 liters) water, divided
    1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
    1 pound (450g) button mushrooms, chopped
    2 large red onions, diced
    1 cup (240 ml) brown lentils
    1 1/4 teaspoons poultry seasoning
    1 bay leaf
    1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
    Freshly ground pepper
    2/3 cup (160 ml) chopped almonds
    2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon tamari
    1 tablespoon tapioca flour
    4 sweet potatoes or yams about 2 inches in diameter, peeled and thinly sliced
    2 oranges, sliced, slices cut in half, for garnish
    Springs dill, parsley, cilantro, or watercress, for garnish

  1. Cover the base of a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan with a piece of parchment paper 2 inches ((5 cm) larger. Snap the collar back onto the base, and cut away the excess paper with scissors. Lightly oil the sides of the pan, place it on a baking sheet, and set aside.
  2. To make the terrine, combine the barley, 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) of the water, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the barley is tender and all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the barley to a large bowl.
  3. Combine the mushrooms, onions, and 3 tablespoons of water in a large skillet. Cook and stir over high heat for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are very tender. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to prevent burning. Set aside.
  4. Combine the remaining 3 1/2 cups (840 ml) of water, lentils, poultry seasoning, bay leaf, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, marjoram, and pepper in a 3-quart (3 liter) saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer about 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender and no more than 1 or 2 tablespoons of liquid remain.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (Gas mark 4). Add the mushroom mixture and the lentils to the barley. Mix well. Add the almonds, tamari, and tapioca flour. Stir until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Adjust seasonings and set aside.
  6. To assemble the terrine, place a slice of sweet potato in the center of the springform pan. From the center, arrange more slices of sweet potato, overlapping each about half way to form a spiral. Cover the bottom of the pan with the sweet potato slices.
  7. Spoon the lentil mixture over the potato slices, pressing with the back of a spoon to pack the mixture firmly. Cover the springform pan with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top is firm when lightly pressed. Let the terrine cool 10 to 15 minutes.

    Mushroom Wine Sauce
    8 ounces (225g) button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
    1 1/4 cups (300 ml) plus 3 tablespoons water, divided
    1/4 cup (60 ml) tamari
    1/4 cup (60 ml) dry red wine
    2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
    3 tablespoons cornstarch

  1. To make the sauce, combine the mushrooms, 1 3/4 cups (415 ml) of the water, tamari, wine, and lemon juice in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Combine the cornstarch and the remaining 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl or cup and stir until smooth. Stir the paste into the simmering sauce a little at a time, stirring constantly for about 1 minute, or until thickened to desired consistency.
  3. To unmold the terrine, run a knife around the edge of the springform pan. Place a large platter over the springform pan and invert it onto the center of the platter. Remove the springform collar and carefully slide the terrine onto a footed cake plate. Garnish the perimeter of the cake plate with the orange slices and herb sprigs if desired. Serve with the Mushroom Wine Sauce on the side.

Ginger-Glazed Carrots


Though you've planned plenty of green vegetables for the special Thanksgiving meal, carrots brighten up the buffet table with their perky orange glow. I cut them lengthwise to showcase them, and add a lightly sweetened glaze to embolden their flavor. Prepared ahead, the carrots can be reheated briefly on the stovetop or at 350 degrees F. for about 10 minutes.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    2 pounds (1 kilo) carrots, peeled
    1 cup (240 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
    2 tablespoons organic sugar, brown sugar, firmly packed, or maple syrup
    1 tablespoon finely grated, peeled fresh ginger
    1 tablespoon cornstarch
    1 tablespoon water
    2 or 3 sprigs parsley, fresh mint, or dill weed for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4). Using a sharp knife, cut the carrots into quarters lengthwise. Place the carrots in an 11 x 7-inch ((28 x 18 cm) baking pan and pour in about one-half inch of water. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the carrots are just tender.
  2. Meanwhile, pour the orange juice, sugar, and ginger into a large, deep skillet and warm over medium-high heat to dissolve the sugar. Decrease the heat to medium. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl or cup and stir to form a smooth, runny paste. Stir the paste into the simmering orange juice mixture a little at a time, stirring constantly for 1 minute, or until slightly thickened. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  3. When the carrots are tender, carefully transfer them to the skillet. Toss them gently for 1 or 2 minutes over medium heat to coat them with the glaze. Spoon into a serving dish and garnish with fresh herbs if desired.

Williamsburg Pumpkin Pie


You can't miss with this recipe that captures the spicy taste and aroma of a traditional, well-seasoned pumpkin pie but features butternut squash instead. The Pilgrims would have really appreciated this treat to top off their Thanksgiving meal, especially with a dollop of Satin Whipped Cream as a finishing touch.

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie: 6 to 8 servings

1 Oatmeal Crumb Crust (below)

    1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch, or 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon if using canned pumpkin
    1/4 cup unsweetened or regular soymilk
    1 (12.3-ounce) box extra-firm silken tofu, drained
    2 cups cooked, mashed butternut squash or canned pumpkin
    1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons organic sugar
    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
    1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    Pinch of salt

    1 recipe Satin Whipped Cream (See separate recipe)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and prepare the Oatmeal Crumb Crust.
  2. To make the filling, combine the arrowroot and soymilk in a blender or mini blender. Process at high speed for 1 minute until smooth and lightly thickened, stopping occasionally to scrape down the blender jar. Set aside in the blender to thicken.
  3. Put the tofu, squash or pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, ginger, and salt in the food processor. Process until smooth and creamy, leaving no bits of white tofu visible, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl.
  4. Process the arrowroot mixture again and add it to the batter in the food processor. Process until well incorporated, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl.
  5. Spoon the filling into the prepared crust. Use the back of the spoon to spread the filling to the edges and smooth the top.
  6. Bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes. The center of the pie will still be slightly soft but will firm when chilled. Let cool completely.
  7. Cover the pie and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours. Serve with Satin Whipped Cream on the side, if desired.


Yield: Makes 1 (9-inch) pie crust

    3 cups (720 ml) old-fashioned rolled oats
    3/4 cup (180 ml) raw walnuts
    4 1/2 tablespoons organic canola oil
    3 tablespoons organic sugar
    3 tablespoon maple syrup
    1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    3/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Have ready a 9-inch (23cm) pie pan. Pour the oats into the food processor and pulse 12 to 15 times. Add the walnuts, canola oil, sugar, maple syrup, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse and process until the mixture is a fine, crumbly meal and holds together when pinched, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. If needed, add 1 tablespoon of water to help hold it together.
  2. Spoon the crust mixture into the pie pan and press it firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan with your fingers. Press on the edges to firm.


This delicately sweetened, fluffy light topping adds the finishing touch to everything from pies and puddings to fruit compote and fruity bread puddings and brings a touch of elegance to the Williamsburg Pumpkin Pie. The xanthan gum adds thickening to the sauce and is available in natural food markets.

    1/2 cup (120 ml) cashews
    1 cup (240 ml) water
    1 small banana
    6 tablespoons powdered sugar
    1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
    1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Put the cashews in a food processor. Process until ground into a fine meal. Transfer to a blender. Put the water, banana, sugar, xanthan gum, and vanilla extract in the blender with the cashew meal. Process for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the mixture becomes thick, smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the blender jar.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a covered container and chill for 8 to 12 hours to firm. Covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator, Satin Whipped Cream will keep for about 4 days. Before serving, fluff the sauce with a gentle stir.

Click here for past cookingwithzel@home.comeonin recipes

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