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.
…or, more correctly, the apple of my “not-pie” — this is one of the luscious baked apples we’ve been enjoying. Northern Virginia is apple country and there are so many varieties to choose from, it’s hard to decide what to bring home from the various farmstands and orchards in the area. This week we tried York and Cortland. I’m sure they’d be wonderful in an actual pie, but I chose to use them in a more virtuous way by baking several of them in my slow cooker. The flavor is as indulgent as apple pie — without the indulgence. I’ll be making them again soon. Next time, I think I’ll stuff them with a little granola to make them reminiscent of apple crisp. Yum.
Three’s the Charm: I have lots of good news to share today, I hardly know where to begin. Let’s start with the amazing honor of having one of my recipes chosen as 1 of 4 “Recipes of the Year” on Vegan.com. My Singapore-Style Rice Noodles with Tofu and Vegetables was named “Quick Recipe of the Year.” This recipe happens to be a personal favorite of mine. Try it yourself and let me know what you think!
Also today, I found out that my Roasted Cauliflower Picatta recipe from my post on One Green Planet was chosen to appear on the Huffington Post! A huge thank you to all who voted for this recipe on One Green Planet.
Exciting stuff! Not bad for a Thursday, huh?
I like to think I know my way around a produce department, but every time I go to the Asian market, I find something new and interesting. This time it was tindora, tiny finger-sized squash that look like miniature cucumbers. I also got some gorgeous Swiss chard, kabocha squash, baby bok choy, Thai chiles, and tiny purple eggplants. Oh yes, and a quince.
Half the fun of shopping for these treasures is discovering interesting ways to cook them. I asked an Indian man scooping tindora into a bag how he prepares them and he explained how his little girl enjoys them. I noticed a woman examining a quince with great care. She told me that she likes to use quince in a stroganoff-type recipe, and now I’m obsessed with trying it that way. Not present in the photo are some oyster mushrooms, beets, and arugula that I also brought home.
I decided to cook up the chard first and sautéed it with lots of garlic, onion, chiles, and some sliced vegan sausage. I tossed it with a grain blend I picked up at Trader Joe’s that included Israeli couscous, orzo, red quinoa, and baby chickpeas, which I cooked in vegetable broth. The combination was wonderful, very homey and comforting, but with lots of great flavors and textures. I plan to use the leftovers to stuff that kabocha squash, and I’m still trying to decide how to enjoy those adorable tindora, so stay tuned.
Last night’s dinner was a wealth of autumn vegetables: buttercup squash, sweet potatoes, Savoy cabbage, carrots, and onion, all cut into large chunks and roasted together until crisply browned around the edges and tender-sweet inside. I made more than we could reasonably eat at one meal, so for today’s lunch I decided to use the leftover vegetables to make fritters.
They’re so quick and easy to make. Just chop up the cooked vegetables and place them in a bowl. Sprinkle them with all-purpose flour (about 1/3 cup) and season with salt and pepper to taste. I didn’t add any additional herbs or spices because the cooked vegetables were already seasoned, and I wanted their flavors to come though without other influences.
After shaping the vegetable mixture into patties, fry them in a little oil until browned on both sides. That’s all there is to it. I served them with a lightening-quick applesauce I made by shredding a few apples with a box grater and combining them in a saucepan with a little sugar, cinnamon, and a splash of lemon juice. I cooked the applesauce for no more than five minutes, just long enough to warm through and allow the flavors to combine.
The applesauce tasted great with the fritters which were delicious and so gorgeous—the colors of the different vegetables in the fritters reminded me of the vivid autumn leaves gracing the trees this time of year.
More 1,000 Vegan Recipes Sightings:
- On 10/9, 1,000 Vegan Recipes was a staff pick on VegNews Magazine’s This Just In.
- On 10/7, the book was also recommended by Erik Marcus on Vegan.com.
- Also on 10/7, Jenn, of Vegan Dance If You Want To, did a post about one of my favorite recipes in the book, the Soy-tan Dream Cutlets. Made with both tofu and wheat gluten, these tender and tasty cutlets can be used in your favorite seitan or savory tofu recipes.
I had planned to take photos of my Thanksgiving dinner, but only managed to remember in time for dessert. So here is a photo of my Pumpkin Cheesecake. I was originally going to dust the top perimeter with crystallized ginger, but at the last minute decided on chopped pecans instead. It was very yummy, although there was so much food for dinner, we didn’t even want to think of dessert until several hours later.
For dinner, I basically made the menu as posted on Vegan.com (you can see a photo of the food there — and all the recipes, too). The seitan roulade has been the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving dinner for over 20 years. I sometimes make a different stuffing for it — this year it was a veganized version of my mother’s chestnut stuffing. It was so good. The roasted sweet potato sticks were a big hit — I sprinkled them with cranberries and some of the chopped pecans I had left from garnishing the cheesecake.
I hope everyone had a very happy vegan Thanksgiving!
Am I the only one who can’t believe Thanksgiving is nearly here? If you’ve seen my Thanksgiving recipes on Vegan.com, you know my menu is pretty well set. I always make that seitan roulade, although I do change up the stuffing from year to year. My alternate main dish on the menu is a stuffed squash, which I guess is pretty much everyone’s go-to holiday meal main dish, especially for those who aren’t into seitan.
But I don’t need a holiday to stuff a squash. I do it all the time. I usually use buttercups or kabochas (when I can find them) because they have a terrific rich flavor and their shape and size are perfect for stuffing. I adore butternut squash, but there’s not much room for stuffing in their small cavity. And even though acorn squash are cute, they usually don’t have much flavor. So buttercup it is.
So that we don’t end up having “the same old stuffed squash”, I like to keep it interesting with different stuffing combinations. Sometimes I’ll make a traditional bread stuffing with celery and onion spiced with thyme, sage, and parsley. More often, I make a grain-based stuffing, usually with rice, but sometimes with millet, quinoa, or couscous. When I have some already cooked rice or another grain in the refrigerator, the stuffing comes together quickly.
To prevent the stuffing from drying out, I roast the squash first until it’s fairly soft (400 degrees F. for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the squash). Then I stuff it and put it back in the oven for about fifteen minutes, longer if the stuffing is cold.
The stuffing in the photo was super easy and quick. In a skillet, I combined sautéed onion, chopped fresh spinach, cooked brown basmati rice, toasted almonds, and dried cranberries. I seasoned it with some sage and salt and pepper.
Since the oven was on anyway, I roasted lots of sliced carrots and a few potatoes and dinner was served. Everything was so moist and flavorful, no sauce or gravy was needed.