For most Americans, Thanksgiving is one of the biggest holidays of the year, focusing on friends and family, the gluttony of fatty yet delicious foods and the inevitable tryptophan-induced comas. For vegetarians, the theme may be the same, but with a much more health-conscious and ethical swing. By making a few substitutions in the standard fare, the flavors of the season will be left intact, and Aunt Maggie won’t even raise a brow!
The traditional Thanksgiving centerpiece is a stuffed, roasted turkey, so exchanging this item for a tofurkey may or may not go over too well with some of the guests. However, jazzing up its stuffing sidekick and pulling double duty on a buttery baste are sure to win over many staunchy nay-sayers!
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine a tube of soy-based sausage, a box of savory bread crumbs, a cup of corn meal and a desired amount of dried cranberries, diced onions and apples in a large mixing bowl. Pour in a mixture of a can of vegetable broth, a stick of melted margarine and and a splash of pomegranate juice and mix by hand until moistened. Place the tofurkey roast in a cooking bag, place it in a roasting pan, then surround the roast with the loafy stuffing mix. Follow the cooking bag instructions for proper cooking time. After cooking, fashion the roast and stuffing into a centerpiece by placing it all on a serving tray, garnishing with a jar of candied apples and whole berry cranberry sauce.
The main course’s companion is the cranberry sauce, which can be made at home by any novice. Simply buy a bag of fresh cranberries and follow the cooking instructions on the bag, watching the cranberries Pop! in the sauce pan. Replacing the water needed with orange juice will add a wonderful flavor and add an extra touch of sweetness. Remember to chill thoroughly before serving.
Green Bean Casserole
This contemporary standard can be updated by adding peas and pearled onions to the standard recipe, as well as replacing the green beans themselves with asparagus! Try substituting the cream of mushroom soup with cream of celery for a delicious surprise! Of course, vegans should be on the lookout for non-dairy versions of the soup.
Loaded Mashed Potatoes
Instead of milk, try using a plainly flavored soy milk or vegetable broth to cut out the dairy and extra calories. Mix in a jar of imitation bacon bits, along with a desired amount of chives, freshly chopped parsley and garlic powder to really wake up the dish! Be sure to use russet potatoes and leave the skin on!
A simply delicious version of candied yams is to bake sweet potatoes the same as a baking potato. When soft and tender, split each in half and mash in a pat of margarine, a teaspoon of brown sugar or maple syrup and sprinkle the top with allspice. Serve warm!
Corn on the Cob
In order to retain the maximum amount of vitamins and freshness, microwave unhusked ears of corn until tender to the touch. Peel back the husks but do not remove them, so guests can use the husks as a holder! Baste each ear with a mixture of melted margarine, sea salt and garlic powder and serve on a platter. The sweet potatoes can also be served on the same dish!