Vegan Thanksgiving

By Teresa Iqbal

October 5, 2016 6 min read

The mere mention of Thanksgiving brings to mind the iconic hand-carved turkey. However, the number of people who choose to not include meat in their diet is steadily growing. According to The Raw Food World, there are approximately 16 million vegetarians and vegans in the United States. Whether you're vegan or just looking to include some healthier options in your Thanksgiving dinner this year, consider one of the following meatless entrees.

THE ULTIMATE VEGETABLE LENTIL LOAF

Lentils make a great protein source and replacement for ground beef. This meatless loaf from Simple Veganista serves 8.

*Loaf

1 cup dry lentils

2 1/2 cups vegetable broth

3 tablespoons flaxseed meal

1/3 cup water

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 small onion, finely diced

1 small red bell pepper, finely diced

1 carrot, finely diced or grated

1 celery stalk, finely diced

3/4 cup oats

1/2 cup oat flour or finely ground oats

1 heaping teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 heaping teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and onion powder

1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper, optional

Cracked pepper and sea salt to taste

*Glaze

3 tablespoons organic ketchup

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Rinse lentils. In a large pot, add 2 1/2 cups water with lentils. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover. Simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and set aside to cool (do not drain). They will thicken a bit upon standing.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a small bowl, combine flaxseed meal and water; set aside for at least 10 minutes, preferably in the refrigerator. This will act as a binder.

Prepare vegetables. In a saut? pan, heat oil or water over medium heat. Saut? garlic, onion, bell pepper, carrots and celery for about 5 minutes. Add spices, mixing well to incorporate. Set aside to cool.

Using an immersion blender or food processor, blend 3/4 of the lentil mixture. Alternately, you can mash the lentils with a potato masher or fork.

Combine saut?ed vegetables with the lentils, oats, oat flour and flax egg. Mix well. Taste, adding salt and pepper as needed. Place mixture into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper, leaving it overlapping for easy removal later. Press down firmly along the edges.

Prepare your glaze by combining all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix until incorporated. Spread over top of loaf and bake for about 45 minutes. Let cool a bit before slicing.

VEGETABLE POTPIES

Vegetable potpies are the perfect Thanksgiving entr?e, as they can incorporate any filling you wish. This recipe from Vegetarian Times makes 8 1-cup ramekins portions, which are perfect for personalized experiences for your guests.

*Dough

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons cold soy margarine, cut into pieces

*Filling

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium leek, white and green parts chopped

1 1/2 cups chopped celery or fennel

2 large carrots, diced

8 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 ounces red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 1/4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

2 tablespoons creamy cashew butter, optional

6 asparagus spears, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas

1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels

To make dough: Whisk together flours and salt in bowl. Cut or rub margarine into flour mixture until no large pieces remain. Stir in 3 to 4 tablespoons cold water until smooth dough forms. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill while making filling.

To make filling: Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add leek, celery, carrots and mushrooms; saute 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Stir in flour and garlic. Cook 1 minute. Add potatoes, broth and poultry seasoning. Cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in cashew butter (if using), and cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat. Stir in asparagus, peas and corn.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into 8 4-inch rounds.

Divide filling among 8 1-cup ramekins. Place dough rounds on top, pressing dough around sides of ramekins with fork to crimp and seal. Poke hole in top of each potpie. Place potpies on baking sheet. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Many traditional Thanksgiving side dishes are meatless by their very nature. Sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and green bean casserole are all meat-free. You can easily pair them with one of the veggie-inspired entrees above or a Tofurky "turkey" for the perfect take on the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

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