Let’s be honest, it’s been hard getting into the holiday spirit over the past few weeks thanks to this whole voting thing and the aftermath. On top of that, if you dwell too long on the fact that Thanksgiving is a holiday that celebrates the genocide of a group of people (who still don’t have equal rights) with a high calorie meal laden with animal products, I guarantee you won’t be feeling any warm, fuzzy feelings. So here is my solution: say goodbye to Thanksgiving and celebrate ThanksLiving instead.
Last weekend, we threw together a colorful vegan ThanksLiving feast to celebrate life. This holiday menu was haphazardly planned one day in advance (I know, I know, what was I thinking?!), but with minimal scrambling and a little help from our dear friend Trader Joe’s, we pulled it off in record time!
Every item on the plate is vegan, but that does not mean it’s not satisfying and comforting. Vegan comfort food is a marvelous thing. You have to get creative when meat, dairy, and eggs are off limits. I mean, would you guess that my mac & cheese contains an entire pound of carrots? Many Thanksgiving dishes tend to fall in the brown to beige category, so we made sure to spruce up our holiday spread with some color.
Every year, I kick off holiday cooking with this Jellied Cranberry Sauce with Fuji Apple recipe from Food & Wine magazine. This has been the tradition for the past eight years. All it is is 12 oz fresh cranberries, 1 fuji apple (peeled), 1 cup sugar, 3/4 cup water. Cook over med-high heat until most of the cranberries have burst, then transfer it to a bowl and cool for at least 3 hours. This year, I added a heavy sprinkling of cinnamon and served it up all pretty in a crystal bowl.
I know green beans are a classic dish, but I’ve never been a huge fan so I whipped up some Kale and Brussels Sprouts with Quinoa. Saute 5 oz of halved brussels sprouts in a little olive oil until they start to caramelize (about 8 minutes). Chop 6 oz of kale into 2-inch pieces, then add to the pan. Add a little water, then cover to cook until kale is tender. In the meantime, cook 1/4 cup of quinoa according to package directions. Toss the cooked quinoa with the veggies, then season with salt and pepper.
For the past few years, we’ve made our own seitan roast from scratch with some wheat gluten and good ole elbow grease. That definitely beats Tofurky’s spherical roast. This year, Trader Joe’s Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast caught our eye. It comes with a miso gravy, which saves me the trouble of making my miso gravy recipe. After this meal, I can confirm that this vegan roast has won us over. The flavor and texture is similar to Gardein, but I can’t be sure if it’s the same product with different packaging. Either way, it’s worth a try, especially if you’re short on time.
Stuffing is a must, am I right? I adapted this not vegan friendly stuffing recipe from Food & Wine magazine and added vegan butter, green apple, vegan sausage, much more celery, miso soup (for the broth), and flaxseed meal (to replace the egg). Remember to give your stuffing time to soak up the broth and all the juices from veggies. Using miso soup instead of regular veggie broth is oh so delicious!
I love mashed potatoes, but wanted to take more colorful direction with this Beet & Sweet Potato Hash with Caramelized Onions. Peel and chop two beets and two sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, arrange them on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast at 400 F for 30 minutes, making sure to stir the veggies every 10 minutes. In the meantime, chop 1/2 onion and caramelize in a pan. Combine all the veggies together before serving.
The mac & cheese was a trial run for a family Thanksgiving dinner next week. I experimented with tapioca starch this time around, but it still needs some tweaks before it’s ready to share here. If you’re interested in vegan mac & cheese, here is an older recipe from earlier this year.
After seeing a few too many expensive vegan pies at local bakeries, we were ready to dive right in and learn how to make vegan pie crust from scratch. Seems like a rather ambitious endeavor to attempt at the last minute, but then Trader Joe’s came through for us with an accidentally vegan apple pie! Phew.
Remember when I assembled the leftovers into a hefty breakfast sandwich last year? Well, I think I’ve outdone myself this year with this ridiculous beast of a creation that I had to eat with a fork and knife. Behold the vegan ThanksLiving breakfast stack.