Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Warm-Up

Who says it can only come once a year?

Thanksgiving! It is the holiday that all foodies (and really any food-lovin' people) await with great anticipation. It also happens to be the holiday that vegetarians and health-conscious individuals find the hardest to navigate. Stuffing soaked in chicken broth, greens cooked with ham, pies galore, and of course, the centerpiece of it all - a huge roasted turkey served with gravy made from its own juices.

Vegetarians - fear not! Although many traditional dishes are meat-centered, there are OH SO many vegetarian and vegan dishes that will satisfy even the most stubbornly conventional family member. From greens to potatoes to pies to salads, the possibilities are endless - and many are easier than you might think.

Now, don't get me wrong - I do have a certain fondness for my family's classic holiday food. A Thanksgiving table is not complete, for me, without celery stuffed with pimento cheese. I am not sure if this is a common side dish, but it is one that has always been at our family table and will always be on mine. Still, I do long for a more veg-friendly table, but I think my family (aka mom and sis) would kick me out of the family for trying to change anything. If I tried to take their gravy away there would most certainly be a mutiny.

So, this past weekend, Geoff (my carnivorous fiance) and Dan
(my pork-lovin' roommate) and I decided to cook a vegan Thanksgiving dinner. Just for us. Actually I decided to make it vegan - which they stuck with more-or-less. We put little thought into the lack of people to actually consume the massive amount of food we created, but enjoyed the hell out of it none the less.
Sauteed Rosemary Seitan (v)
Roasted Chicken (clearly not vegan)
Portobello & Shallot Gravy (v)
Roasted Parsnip & Potato Puree (v)
Cornbread Stuffing (v)
Roasted Brussels Sprouts (v)
Pear & Arugala Salad with Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette (v)

Pumpkin Pie (veg)
Pecan Pie (veg)


Dan and I tag-teamed this menu, and everything was de-lic-ious. While I would love to give you recipes for everything we made, we are not actually sure about what we did half of the time. Also, that would be an EPIC blog post. So, I have chosen two dishes to share, the tastiest, and the easiest. The first, Roasted Parsnip and Potato Puree, is absolutely decadent. A departure from the classic mashed potatoes, parsnips lend a delightful depth and sweetness to the dish. If you are not familiar with parsnips, they look like a white carrot, but taste more like a sweet potato once cooked. They are one of my top 3 favorite vegetables, and are yummy all by themselves when roasted with cinnamon and nutmeg.

The second, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, is one of the simplest ways to cook a vegetable that yields the most flavor. Another top 3 vegetable. OK maybe top 5. Top 3 is just too limiting.

Roasted Turnip & Potato Puree
2lbs parsnips
1lb yukon gold potatoes
2 leeks (white part only)
5-6 shallots
4 cloves garlic
olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 handful chopped fresh sage (or 2 teaspoons dry)
5 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoons dry)
1/2 cup Earth Balance (vegan butter)
1 cup vegetable broth

Roughly chop potatoes and parsnips into 1-inch cubes. I leave the skins on, but if you would like a smoother, more refined puree, peel the vegetables before roasting. In a large mixing bowl, toss parsnips and potatoes with 3-4 tablespoons olive oil, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Spread onto baking sheet and bake at 400 until golden brown and soft.

White the vegetables are roasting, slice leeks into 1/4 half-moons* and thinly slice shallots and garlic. In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium heat. Saute leeks for about 5 minutes, then add shallots and garlic, and sautee until they start to turn brown, season with salt & pepper, then deglaze with white wine. Once wine evaporates, transfer mixture to a large soup pot.

Once vegetables are roasted, transfer to soup pot with shallot mixture and turn burner on medium-low. Add in butter, herbs, and 1/2 cup stock. Beat with hand-mixer (or puree in food processor) at high speed until mostly smooth. Continue to add stock until desired consistency is reached.

Serve alone or with mushroom gravy.

*If you have never worked with leeks, they can be tricky. They tend to be very dirty all throughout, and need to be cleaned before use. The easiest way to do this is to chop the ends off the white part, and then chop the green stems off as well. Use the green stems for vegetable stock later. Slice the leek in half lengthwise, and place the flat sides down. Shop into thin half-moons, and place leeks in a bucket of water. Swish them around with your hands until all the dirt has fallen to the bottom. Using your hands, or a small mess strainer, remove the leeks from the bucket and place in a strainer to dry. Do not pour the dirty water over the leeks.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
2lbs fresh brussels sprouts
olive oil
sea salt & black pepper
1 handful chopped fresh sage (or 2 tablespoons dried)

Chop woody ends off of brussels sprouts and cut in half lengthwise. In large mixing bowl, toss all ingredients with enough olive oil to coat. Spread on baking sheet and roast at 375 until soft and dark brown on the edges.

That's all!!! Enjoy your holiday and make something fabulous!

Geoff loves his brussels sprouts.

Dan looks angry, but that is just his happy face.

.....and it's gone.


  1. can i be geoffrey's brother husband? please? i'm very giving.

  2. Looks so delicious. Nom nom nom.

  3. I think polygamy, for food reasons, is completely legit.