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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
Vegan Recipes/ Vegetarian Recipes

Revisiting a Vegan Thanksgiving

Includes Recipes Below

For other Thanksgiving menus and recipes click on

Thanksgiving is a treasured American holiday that's synonymous with many nostalgic threads: turkey roasting in the oven, family coming to dinner, treasured friends celebrating together, special preparations for the feast, a roaring fire for the gathering, peeling chestnuts, and cooking the time-honored cranberry sauce. While vegans hold many of those same images, we certainly veer in another direction when it comes to the turkey roasting in the oven. We seek a higher plane, one that honors the living turkey and respects its right to live free of the butcher's knife. We rejoice at the Thanksgiving table because we are free from the need to kill an animal, cook it, and eat its flesh forkful by forkful.

Instead, vegans throughout the country, put their creative energies into cooking a host of varied delicacies from the plant kingdom. To date, no single dish has taken on national status to replace the bird. Rather, each family prepares its own favorites for the annual feast.

We invite you to share our recipes for the delectable meal we serve to our family and friends.

Our centerpiece entrée, the Thanksgiving Torte remains the same as last year, because it has become a favorite family tradition for several years. Baked in a springform pan and unmolded onto an attractive footed cake plate, this aromatic and earthy composition of wild rice, walnuts, pecans, mushrooms, soy sausage, and sage is served with Mushroom Gravy on the side. Because we only serve this dish at Thanksgiving, its lusty, savory flavors have crept into our memories with a warming nostalgia that brings everyone to the table with bursting anticipation.

Other side dishes such as Cranberry Fruit Confetti, Creamed Chestnuts, Roasted Potatoes, and Brandied Fruit and Cranberry Relish remain Thanksgiving favorites that grace our holiday table each year.

For this year's Thanksgiving feast we offer a few variations on side dishes to add spark to your special celebration meal. You'll notice that color really comes to the foreground. The Harvest Vegetable Roast combines squashes, onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers with accents of black beans and fresh cut corn dotting the vegetable landscape.

Always an appealing addition to a meal, mushrooms will join our colorful array of side dishes this year. We've combined our Mushroom Medley with sage, rosemary, onions, and garlic. Mushrooms are often described as earthy; we agree they do have a definitive earthy depth. However, we also consider them rugged and robust and look forward to inviting them to our table.

Our Red Baron Salad #1 livens the table with a spirited, freshness that can only come from raw vegetables that offer stout and zesty appeal without fail. As suggested by its name, the Red Baron Salad touts elegance, partly because of its colors and flavors, and partly because of its appealing presentation.

While so many dishes that appear on the Thanksgiving table are cooked, a raw salad with extraordinary flavors offers a welcome change with its crisp crunchy textures. The lusty hue of the deep red beets also adds dimension to the autumn colors at the table.

Finally, the moment arrives for the awaited pièce de résistance. Apples 'n' Cream Pie sports the stalwart spicy flavors so favored during the holiday season. Resting at the base of this tantalizing pie is a layer of cinnamon spiced apples. Forming a plush quilt over the apples is a thick blanket of creamy spiced tofu. Baked to perfection and garnished with nutmeg, the pie is a succulent treat you can proudly serve at dessert time.

The Thanksgiving plate that reflects the brilliant colors of autumn brings both comfort and anticipation to the diners. Our Harvest Vegetable Roast most certainly looks appetizing, while offering a medley of the season's gleanings, some from the vine, some from the earth, and others from the bush or stalk. We've not cluttered the recipe with too many seasonings to allow the true flavors of the vegetables to blossom. The emphasis is on freshness and simplicity.

Harvest Vegetable Roast

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

    2 or 3 zucchini squashes, angle sliced into 1/2-inch (1 cm) chunks
    3 large pattypan squashes, cut into 8 wedges
    2 large yellow crookneck squashes, angle sliced into 1/2-inch (1 cm) chunks
    2 large onions, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
    3 ears of fresh sweet corn, kernels cut off the cob
    4 tomatoes, cut into 8 wedges each
    2 red bell peppers, cored and cut into 1 1/2-inch (3.5 cm) squares
    1 15-ounce (425g) can black beans, drained and rinsed

    2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    Several sprigs of fresh herbs like basil, sage, mint, parsley, or cilantro

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (Gas Mark 5) and have ready a 12 x 15-inch (30 x 37.5 cm) oven-proof baking dish. Combine the zucchini, pattypan, and crookneck squashes, onions, corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, and black beans in a very large bowl.
  2. Drizzle lightly with the olive oil, sprinkle with thyme, salt, and pepper and toss well to coat all the vegetables.
  3. Roast, uncovered, for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring the ingredients about half way through. Fork-test for tenderness and adjust baking time if needed.
  4. Serve in the baking dish with a garnish of fresh herbs or transfer to an attractive serving bowl or a large, deep platter and finish with a garnish of several sprigs of fresh herbs.

Mushrooms, an earthy treasure, never fail to gather aficionados at the table. They make an appealing side dish at the Thanksgiving table because they blend so well with the varied flavors of the harvest bounty.


Yield: 6 servings

    12 fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms

    1/2 pound (225g) oyster mushrooms, coarsely chopped
    1 pound (450g) cremini mushrooms, sliced
    1 cup (240 ml) chopped onions
    1 clove garlic, finely minced
    Pinch of dried rosemary
    Pinch of dried sage
    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    Salt and pepper

    1 cup (240 ml) raw cashews
    Fresh sage leaves for garnish

  1. If using fresh shiitakes, snip off and discard the stems, slice them, and proceed with Step 2. If using dried shiitakes, place them into a medium bowl and pour boiling water over them just to cover. Soak for 1 hour. Then, using a kitchen scissors, snip off and discard the stems close to the base, and slice the mushrooms. Save the soak water for a tasty soup base by freezing or refrigerating it.
  2. Place the sliced shiitakes into a large skillet and add the remaining ingredients except the cashews and sage leaves. Cook and stir over high heat until the mushrooms and onions are softened, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the cashews and toss well. Transfer to an attractive serving dish and garnish with fresh sage leaves.

Concluding a Thanksgiving feast without a festive dessert would seem incomplete. We couldn't let that happen. Our feast will end with an indulgent, decadent, celebratory dessert that honors the occasion with a grand finish--that is, if you have room.



Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    1 prepared whole grain pie crust for a 10-inch pie plate

    Apple Filling
    3 apples, peeled, cored, quartered, and thinly sliced
    1/4 cup (60 ml) black raisins
    1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (60 ml) organic sugar, divided
    2 tablespoons water
    2 teaspoons lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided

    Spiced Cream Topping
    2 12.3-ounce (350g) boxes extra firm silken tofu
    1/4 cup (60 ml) organic sugar
    1/4 cup (60 ml) maple syrup
    1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
    1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/8 teaspoon salt

    3 tablespoons organic sugar
    1/3 cup broken walnut pieces or sliced almonds

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (Gas Mark 4) and have ready a 10-inch pie plate. Gently place the prepared pie crust into the pie plate and flute the edges. Prick the bottom with a fork in several places. Bake, unfilled, for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. Do not turn off the oven.
  2. Apple Filling: Combine the apples, raisins, 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the organic sugar, water, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and steam 10 minutes. Cool the apples and drain off any liquid.
  3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons organic sugar and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon and toss well. Spoon the spiced apples into the cooled pie crust.
  4. Spiced Cream Topping: Combine the topping ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Spoon the topping over apple filling and spread to the edges. Sprinkle with a dash of nutmeg, bake for 30 minutes, and cool completely.
  5. While the pie is baking, prepare the garnish. Place the organic sugar into an 8-inch (20 cm) non-stick skillet and cook and stir with a wooden spoon over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sugar turns into a syrup. Add the nuts and continue stirring for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the nuts are thoroughly coated and turn golden. Quickly remove the nuts to a dish to cool, then break apart and sprinkle over the baked pie. Refrigerate the pie for several hours or overnight before serving.

Click here for past cookingwithzel@home.comeonin recipes

Click here for other Vegetarian Holiday Meals

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