After all my pre-Thanksgiving posts with new recipes for the holiday table, I actually ended up with a slightly revised menu than I had planned. Since I had just made all those new dishes last week, when it came time to actually cook for Thursday’s big meal, it went something like this: When I told Jon I planned to make the pumpkin tiramisu, he said, “You just made that last week. Can we have an apple pie instead?” So I made an apple pie which turned out to b the BEST apple pie I’ve ever had in my life. The secret? Stayman apples! I never used Staymans before and now I will never use anything else for pies. Wow, what a flavor.
When I mentioned I was making the new green bean recipe, Jon said, “That was good, but you’re going to make the casserole with those fried onion rings, right?” For my own part, I opted against the “en croute” part of the seitan roast, feeling that we’d have enough carbs without a pasty crust on the main dish. Instead I glazed the roast with a cranberry-port glaze. I made the loaded mashed potato casserole, the chestnut-porcini gravy, and roasted sweet potatoes with pecans and cranberries. I used mango jam to make my cranberry sauce because I still didn’t replenish my supply of lime marmalade.
So there you have it. Some old dishes, some new. All delicious. What did you have for Thanksgiving dinner?
We’re in the home stretch of my Thanksgiving recipes from this year’s menu. All that’s left is the gravy! I have a few favorite go-to recipes for sauces and gravies. One is the Madiera Sauce posted on my Vegan Thanksgiving Feast on Vegan.com. The other is a brown gravy posted on another Vegan.com Thanksgiving feature.
This year I decided to make a chestnut-porcini gravy. Instead of making a homemade stock, I used a porcini bouillon cube for a rich broth. I found them at an Italian market this fall when I was in Providence, and they have such a great flavor. The chestnuts I always get at an Asian market because they sell cooked chestnuts in vacuum-sealed bags for under $2 a bag.
To get a rich mushroom and chestnut flavor throughout I simmered the mushrooms and chestnuts in the broth along with onion, a little port, and some herbs, and a little gravy browner to enrich the color. I then pureed it all in the Vitamix for a smooth and creamy gravy that is so good, I almost wanted to drink it. If you don’t have porcini bouillon cubes, any kind of mushroom broth or vegetable broth will work. For the mushrooms in the gravy, you can use any kind of fresh mushroom (even regular white mushrooms) to balance the rich flavor of the porcini broth. (I can’t get fresh porcinis anyway, and I discovered that I’m out of the dried ones!)
TIP: Strain off this juice and use it as a base for a sauce: it’s great in a barbecue sauce or use it as a base for an Asian-style dipping sauce or teriyaki sauce. I’ve even added a little to brown gravy.
*I added about 1/4 cup of light brown sugar and it was still nicely tart.
We’ll be enjoying our traditional seitan roast on Thanksgiving, but it’s the vegetables that are the real stars in our house. I love the way the vibrantly colored sweet potatoes, cranberries, squash, and green beans look like an autumn landscape on my holiday table. Truth is, I’m happiest when I can make a meal out of what are commonly referred to as “side” dishes.
Still, a main dish “centerpiece” is a Thanksgiving tradition for most of us. If you’ve never make a seitan roast, it’s easier than you think. If making a large roast is intimidating, you could opt for individual servings of seitan en croute, an especially good choice if you’re only feeding one or two people and you don’t like leftovers. Personally, I adore leftovers and the opportunities they present. (Stay tuned for some exciting post-Thanksgiving posts to see what I mean.)
There are lots of vegan roasts you can buy that are already prepared, such as the ones from Field Roast and Tofurky. Another idea is to make a large stuffed squash (or several small individual stuffed squashes) that can be filled with grain or bread stuffing, depending on what you like. Stuffed squash is a great choice because it’s colorful and delicious but can also be made gluten-free and soy-free. For something different, consider making a Moroccan bisteeya (a pastry covered savory pie), a lentil shepherd’s pie (maybe topped with half mashed white potatoes and half mashed sweet potatoes), or even a nice pan of lasagna.
For an easy no-fuss one-dish meal, you could make my Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Crispy Kale Ribbons — with or without the addition of the walnuts and dried cranberries — and to it, add some sauteed sliced sausage links (homemade or storebought such as Tofurky brand) for extra protein, or instead of sausage, add some cooked cannelini beans. You could also substitute diced butternut squash for the sweet potatoes, if you prefer. The colors and textures are wonderful together and if you season it with a little ground sage and thyme, it will taste like Thanksgiving. I especially like the crispy kale ribbons in this — it’s a fun way to employ the popular kale chip concept as part of the meal. And if you’ve never had roasted sweet potatoes before, you’re in for a treat.
The countdown to Thanksgiving is getting down to the wire. Still to come on my blog: a new take on cranberry sauce, an easy and delicious gravy, and another main dish idea. And for more ideas, check out my entire Thanksgiving menu (with recipes) on Vegan.com as well as the Thanksgiving and Christmas menus (and recipes) in my book, Party Vegan.
- Instead of vegan (soy) cream cheese: you can use the option provided in the recipe for cashews + cannellini beans. Note: if making my pumpkin cheesecake recipe, you can use this formula to replace the cream cheese in the recipe: 1 cup vegan cream cheese = 3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked 4 hours or overnight and drained (110g) and 1/4 cup cooked cannelini beans, rinsed and drained (65 g), pureed in a high speed blender.
- For a gluten-free version: use your favorite gluten-free flour blend.
- For an alcohol-free version: use apple juice in place of the rum.