Just because you don't eat meat, doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to enjoy Thanksgiving! There are so many delicious vegetables in season, that putting together a bountiful, hearty, meat-free meal is completely feasible. To help you out, I'm planning a vegetarian friendly Thanksgiving menu.
When guests arrive have a cheese plate complete with olives, nuts, crackers, and a homemade lentil spread ready and waiting. Get the dinner started with a soothing soup first course. A creamy chestnut celeriac soup is elegant and festive. For the main course serve pumpkin lasagna in individual sugar pumpkins. To look at these recipes — we'll address side dishes later —
1 cup French green lentils
2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought vegetable stock
1/2 onion, cut into 3 wedges
4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces shallots (about 1 1/2 cups), thinly sliced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 3 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs, whites finely chopped, yolks reserved for another use
50 low-fat whole-wheat crackers
- Bring lentils, stock, 1 3/4 cups water, onion, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat; simmer, adding water as needed (about 1/2 cup at a time) to prevent lentils from drying out, until they are tender, about 30 minutes. Discard onion, thyme, and bay leaf; set lentils aside.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, and cook, stirring often, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Add mushrooms; cook until mushrooms have softened completely and shallots are deep-golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add sherry, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Remove from heat.
- Reserve 2 heaping tablespoons of shallot mixture for garnish; refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
- Process remaining shallot mixture, the lentils, and nuts in a food processor until coarsely combined.
- Transfer to a large bowl, and stir in the egg whites.
- Line a 5-by-10-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing 3 inches to hang over each long side. Spoon lentil mixture into pan, and fold plastic over top. Top with another loaf pan filled with heavy cans. Refrigerate 4 hours (or overnight).
- To serve, unwrap top, and invert onto a platter. Bring to room temperature. Garnish with reserved shallot mixture and thyme sprigs. Serve with crackers.
1 leek, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
6 cups vegetable stock
1 celeriac, chopped
½ tsp dried thyme
16 ounces chestnut purée
freshly ground black pepper
créme fraiche and chives to serve
celeriac chips to serve (optional)
- In a large saucepan, fry the leek and carrot in the oil over a medium heat until the leek is softened.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and bring to a simmer.
- Cover and cook for about 25 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
- Allow the soup to cool, then purèe in batches in a food processor or blender.
- Return the soup to the pan and reheat.
- Serve the soup in bowls with a dollop of crème fraîche and chives if wished.
10 sugar pumpkins, about 5 to 6 inches round, or small acorn squash
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 Spanish onion, sliced
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 to 3 cups vegetable broth
2 cups toasted almonds, finely chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
25 5x5-inch sheets fresh lasagna
1 cup amaretti cookies, ground
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mascarpone
2 cups apple cider
2 Tbs. maple syrup
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Cut tops off pumpkins, and set aside. Scrape out seeds, and discard them. Place pumpkins on a baking sheet, and roast them until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove them from oven, scrape out all flesh from 4 pumpkins and transfer flesh to a bowl.
- Discard shells. Remove most of flesh from remaining 6 pumpkins, and transfer to a bowl, reserving shells for further baking.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and when it is hot, add 1 tablespoon butter. Add onion, and sauté it for 2 minutes. Add brown sugar, and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
- Add pumpkin flesh, and stir it well. Add broth, and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until pumpkin starts to fall apart, for about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Add 1/2 cup almonds, transfer to a blender or food processor and purée.
- Add remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper. Return mixture to skillet, and reheat it.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat, add lasagna sheets and cook them until al dente, for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Remove lasagna from heat, and drain.
- Place sheets in skillet with pumpkin sauce, and toss.
- Using tongs, remove sheets, and place them in bottom of shells.
- Spoon sauce over lasagna, and sprinkle one-quarter of remaining almonds and one-quarter of amaretti, Parmesan cheese and mascarpone over top. Repeat until pumpkins are filled, or all ingredients are used up, with a final layer of almonds, amaretti, Parmesan cheese and mascarpone.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place cider and maple syrup in saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until mixture has reduced to one-third and has a sticky, syrupy consistency, about 15 minutes. Add butter, salt and pepper, and set aside.
- Drizzle cider-maple syrup sauce over individual pumpkins, and serve.