All of those pretty leaves on the trees must mean that Thanksgiving is on its way! Even if you’re not having a totally vegan Thanksgiving feast, many of these dishes incorporate well into any Thanksgiving menu.
Cutting out (or cutting back) on the meat and dairy in your Thanksgiving menu is a great way to green up this holiday. Meat and dairy are very inefficient to produce compared to plant-based foods – they take many times more land and water to produce, both of which are ever-shrinking resources.
Related Reading: Is meat the most inefficient food?
If you’re used to the typical “meat and three” type meal, it makes perfect sense that cutting out or reducing the meat might seem unappetizing. If you take the meat off that type of plate, you’re left with an iceberg salad, some overcooked veggies, and maybe a starch. No, thank you! The trick to cutting the meat is to re-imagine your plate.
This menu features two options for a main course, and you can make one or both of them. One is a meat alternative: a rich, savory seitan roast. The other says, “meat, schmeat!” and lets seasonal produce shine as the star of the Thanksgiving meal. Whether you cook up this whole menu or just replace some meat- or dairy-based dishes with one or two of these items, give yourself a high five for reducing your impact this Thanksgiving!
Image Credit: Vegan Thanksgiving photo via Thinkstock
Let’s start with the sides! Check out my favorite easy way to cook up garlicky greens.
Fall is leafy greens season, so it makes sense to celebrate that bounty at the Thanksgiving table. These crock pot greens have a garlicky kick, and since you make them in the crock pot, you know they’re low-maintenance, too!
Garlic Crock Pot Greens
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 red onion (or a leek, or any onion you like)
- 4-6 cloves of garlic
- 4 cups greens of your choice (kale, collards, mustard greens, etc. Spinach will not work well in this recipe.)
- 1 handful of parsley
- 1 15 ounce can white kidney beans (optional)
- 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 tablespoons miso or broth paste dissolved in 1 cup of water
Heat up the crock post on high, and toss in the oil, garlic, and onions. Cover and let those cook while you prep everything else.
Meanwhile, chop the greens and parsley into bite-sized pieces, drain the beans, and prepare the miso broth (the last ingredient on the list above). When everything is prepped, add the rest of the ingredients to the crock pot, stir to combine, and cook for one hour. Then, reduce the heat to low and cook for about two more hours, or until your greens are tender.
The total cooking time will depend on how tough your greens were – collards will take longer than turnip greens, for example, so after that first hour, check your greens every 30 minutes to avoid overcooking.
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by foxrosser
This is another crock pot recipe, so you’ll need to either borrow a pot from a friend or make this sauce in advance. It keeps beautifully in the fridge for up to a week, so you can get this prepared long before guests arrive. You can pass it alongside the meal or serve it over coconut ice cream for dessert. Either way, you won’t be sorry!
Ginger Vanilla Pear Sauce
- 14 pears, peeled, cored, and diced into 1″ pieces
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped
Place the pears, ginger, water, and scraped innards of your vanilla bean into your crock pot. Cook on high for 3 – 3 1/2 hours, until you get the desired consistency.
If you like your fruit sauces smoother, you can throw this into the blender or use an immersion blender to break down the chunky pieces of pear before serving.
photo by Becky Striepe
Ready for the main dish? Let’s start with the seitan roast!
Seitan is a meat substitute made from vital wheat gluten. It’s basically a seasoned dough that cooks up to have a rich, somewhat meaty texture. Tanya Sitton from Eat Drink Better shares her crowd-pleasing seitan roast recipe. I’ve got the basic directions here, but I recommend checking out her recipe for detailed production notes and variations.
- 6 cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon vegan unbeef soup base (such as Better Than Bouillon)
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 4 tablespoons Bragg’s liquid aminos (or organic soy sauce)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 3 cups vital wheat gluten
- 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- few shakes coarsely ground black pepper
- 2-4 potatoes chunked or thickly sliced, peeled if desired
- 4-6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
- 1-2 onions, cut in eights
- 2-4 carrots, chunked or thickly sliced
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
- fresh or dried parsley, to garnish
Preheat oven to 325F. Oil a 10″ x 14″ casserole dish well, or line just the bottom (not the sides) of the pan with parchment paper.
Mix up the broth: combine water, bouillon, red wine, Bragg’s (or soy sauce), olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder in a large bowl or pitcher.
Prepare gluten mixture: in a large mixing bowl, combine gluten flour, all purpose flour, nutritional yeast, and black pepper, stirring well.
Add broth 1/2 cup at a time to the flour mixture, kneading gently until all ingredients are wet and it forms a soft dough. It’s not like bread dough: just knead it enough to get everything combined, and then stop; don’t overdo it. If you end up adding more broth than the dough can absorb, just pour it back into the broth mixture.
Let the dough rest after initial mixing/light kneading, for about 5 minutes. Lightly re-knead dough, forming it into a long French bread loaf shape. Pour about 1/2 of the remaining broth into the pan, place roast dough into pan, then pour the rest of the broth over it.
Bake 30 minutes, loosen the bottom of the roast from the pan with a spatula, and bake for 30 more minutes. Using 2 spatulas, carefully turn roast over; bake 30 minutes, turn it again, and bake 30-45 more minutes.
While the roast is baking, toss potatoes, garlic, onions, and carrots with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
After 2 to 2-1/4 hours cooking time, remove roast pan from oven. Turn roast once more. Pour veggies all over and around roast, return to oven, and cook for another 45 minutes to 1 hour, for a total cooking time of 3 hours. Uncover veggies from roast, and sprinkle with fresh or dried parsley. Serve with vegan steak sauce or gravy, if desired, and good warm bread.
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by jakub_hla
Winter squash makes a beautiful main course that’s comforting, filling, and very healthy. This recipe serves two people, so you can scale it up for however many folks are coming to your Thanksgiving table!
Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 1 acorn squash
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 loaf of your favorite bread
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 apple, cubed
- 1/2 cup cranberries
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1 3/4 cup vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon sage
- 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Toast the bread, cube and set aside.
Slice the squash and de-seed it. Drizzle on some olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 40 minutes. While the squash is roasting, melt the earth balance in a skillet and saute the onion until translucent. Add in a 1/4-1/3 a cup of the stock, the apple and the cranberries. Cook until soft, about 15 minutes.
In a casserole dish, mix together the bread cubes, spices and the onion/apple mixture. Add in the stock, pouring slowly over the dish. Cover with foil and set aside.
Once the squash has roasted for 50 minutes, add the stuffing mixture to the oven, and bake together for 25 minutes. At that time, remove the foil and continue to bake for approximately 10 more minutes.
Remove from the oven, and once cooled slightly, scoop portions of the stuffing into each half of the acorn squash.
photo via Glue and Glitter
No Thanksgiving meal is complete without dessert, and we’ve got a couple of dessert options for you. We’ll kick it off with a Thanksgiving classic: pumpkin pie!
Nothing says Thanksgiving like good ol’ pumpkin pie! This recipe is so tasty, you won’t miss the eggs or the milk!
Decadent Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie
- 2-1/2 cups white wheat flour
- ½ cup white unbleached flour
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¾ cup of icy cold water
- pinch of salt
Mix all ingredients together in a food processor until marbled-looking. Then, roll out into a thin layer and place in a pie plate. Using a fork, make small perforations in the bottom of the dough to allow air to escape while baking. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
- 2 cups cooked pumpkin
- 2/3 cup maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/3 cup almond milk
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot
- ½ block of firm organic tofu
Mix all filling ingredients together in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Pour into the piecrust and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Let cool. Refrigerate.
Recipe via Michelle Schoffro Cook
If you’re expecting a crowd, it doesn’t hurt to have a second dessert option. Check out this simple apple crisp recipe!
Apple crisp is another nice dish that takes advantage of fall’s bounty. Apple crisp used to be one of my Nani Dorothy’s specialties, so for me this is total comfort food and perfect for a day of gratitude.
- 10 cups of apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon of white or white wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup of rolled oats
- 1 cup white wheat flour
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon each of baking soda and baking powder
- 1/2 cup vegan margarine or 1/3 cup olive oil
Preheat your oven to 350F.
In a 9×13″ glass or ceramic baking pan, toss the apple slices with the sugar, flour, and cinnamon, tossing to coat them really well, then add the water.
In a small bowl, mix the oats, remaining flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and margarine or oil. As you stir, it will start to form a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle this evenly over your apples. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the crumble is brown on top.
That wraps it up! Do you have any plant-based Thanksgiving dishes on the menu this year? Tell us what’s cooking in the comments!
Image Credit: Apple Crisp photo via Thinkstock