Despite being a vegetarian half my life, I have never strayed from a fake-meat main dish and vegetarian sides for the holidays. This year, in my quest to eat less processed food and try new things in my 30s, I decided to forgo the pre-made fake frozen products. I wanted to make a meal centered more on vegetables from scratch that is tasty and easy for anyone to prepare. I took charge of my food and let vegetables shine on a day centered around turkey.
Through November I compiled recipes on my Pinterest board and clipped from print. Some of my best resources include a New York Times interactive, Well’s Vegetarian Thanksgiving, and roundups of recipes from blogs I like, including Lunchbox Bunch and The Kitchn.
After finding recipes, I had the difficult task of narrowing them down to one meal. I have come across so many recipes I want to try, I plan to make some different food for Christmas and as I receive food from my CSA.
For Thanksgiving, I made a homemade tofu loaf, which was the big project outside my comfort zone. However, it wasn’t that hard or time-consuming and I would recommend it for anyone who is trying to eat healthier or fewer processed foods. The recipe involves pureeing the ingredients and putting them into a loaf pan and baking. Seriously, that easy. I put homemade stuffing inside (another simple recipe).
I also made cranberry sauce (which I make every year so I can make cranberry salsa with the leftovers), mashed potatoes (favorite food!), a spinach salad and, for dessert, a pumpkin roll similar to a jelly roll with homemade cream-cheese frosting.
I had planned to make a butternut squash with wild rice stuffing, but there was too much food, so I made it the next day to have with leftovers. For my work potluck, I made couscous salad with dried cranberries and pecans, from the New York Times blog mentioned above.
Whether you are a vegetarian hoping to bring vegetables back to your table as the centerpiece, are cooking for a vegetarian or are looking for new side dishes, I highly recommend looking around for holiday recipes that take the rich, savory flavors available in late fall and incorporating them into the holiday meals.
As many people have done this fall, feel free to send me vegetarian links, or feel free to look around at the links I got recipes from. If anyone uses a recipe mentioned here, I would love to hear about it, or to find out what other vegetarians eat for the holidays.