All the world is nuts about
What's in The Nut Gourmet
Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays of the year that has the special appeal of bringing people together for good things to eat. Vegans have long suffered in the shadow of a holiday tradition that brings suffering to plates across the country.
Not any more! We vegans deserve our own special Thanksgiving tradition that not only brings joy and compassion to the table but also features an elegant, ultra-savory, irresistibly delicious main dish that stands tall, proud, and attractively presented on a footed cake plate.
A sensational vegan Thanksgiving dish, this elegant torte features the pleasing textures and savory flavors of the season with wild rice, mushrooms, nuts, and sage.
Of all the special main dish recipes I've brought to the Thanksgiving table through the years, this is THE one my family is truly thankful for and asks for each Thanksgiving. It's my joy to share our family tradition with all vegans who prepare Thanksgiving at home.
The Torte is finished with a robust mushroom sauce served on the side. It makes a lovely presentation, while adding a hearty, eye-appealing main dish to the meal.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
3 1/3 cups (800 ml) water, divided
2/3 cup (160 ml) wild rice
2 1/8 teaspoons salt, divided
3/4 pound (340g) red or white rose potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
1 cup (240 ml) water
1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 cup (120 ml) coarsely chopped pecan pieces
1/4 cup (60 ml) coarsely chopped walnut pieces
1 (14-ounce) package vegan ground sausage
3/4 pound (340g) portabella mushrooms, chopped (about 4 large mushrooms)
1 large onion, diced
1/3 cup (80 ml) water
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke
1 1/4 teaspoons salt or to taste
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
1/2 pound 225g) sliced button mushrooms
1 3/4 cups (415 ml) plus 3 tablespoons water, divided
1/4 cup (60 ml) soy sauce
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry red wine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
- TO MAKE THE TORTE, lightly oil a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan, line the base with parchment paper (for easier cleanup), and set it aside. Combine 2 cups (480 ml) of the water, wild rice, and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to medium-low and steam for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Drain any excess liquid and set the rice aside.
- Combine the potato cubes, 1 cup (240 ml) of the water, and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to a medium bowl, mash them, and set them aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (Gas Mark 5.) Toast the pecans and walnuts in a 10-inch (25 cm) skillet over high heat, stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes. Immediately transfer them to a dish to cool.
- Combine the vegan sausage, mushrooms, onion, the remaining 1/3 cup (80 ml) water, poultry seasoning, and pepper in a deep, 12-inch skillet. Cook over high for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onion is transparent, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon or paddle to break up the sausage chunks. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to cook the onions and mushrooms until tender. Drain and reserve any excess liquid. Add the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and hickory liquid smoke to the sausage mixture and mix well.
- Add the mashed potatoes to the skillet along with the toasted nuts and cooked wild rice. Mix well to combine the ingredients thoroughly. Adjust seasonings if needed.
- Press the mixture firmly into the prepared springform pan, and attractively arrange the tomato slices over the top, covering most of the surface. Bake uncovered for 1 hour. Allow the torte to stand for 15 to 20 minutes before removing from the pan.
- TO MAKE THE MUSHROOM GRAVY, prepare it while the torte is baking. Combine the mushrooms, 1 3/4 cups (415 ml) of the water, soy sauce, red wine, and lemon juice in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat down slightly and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Combine the cornstarch and remaining 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl and stir with a spoon to make a runny paste. Add the paste to the bubbling sauce, a little at a time, stirring constantly for about 1 minute, until the sauce has thickened to the desired consistency.
- TO SERVE THE TORTE, run a clean flatware knife around the edge of the springform pan, release the springform collar, and set the base with the torte on a platter. Serve the gravy in a gravy boat on the side.
Notes: To ease the feast-day preparations, make the Torte and the Mushroom Gravy the day before and store it in the refrigerator. Reheat the Torte at 350 degrees (Gas Mark 4) for 15 to 20 minutes just before serving. The Mushroom Gravy can be heated on the stovetop minutes before serving.
The preparation comes together more quickly if you cook the wild rice before beginning the torte or even a day ahead.
Add a gourmet touch by serving the torte on a footed cake plate and garnish the edges with sprigs of fresh herbs and orange slices.
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