Countdown to Turkey Day 2009: A Vegetarian Ask the Audience

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Heather says:

Recently a reader posed this question in the comments:

My dughter is a vegetarian and has been asked to bring something for Thanksgiving that she can eat and that will provide a taste of something good and different than the usual Turkey-day fare. We have’nt come up with anything “spectacular” but I thought I would try your readers. Any suggestions? She is a pretty good cook, so it doesn’t have to be super easy, just needs to taste great! Thanks.

After further questioning, I learned that she is looking for an idea for a main dish. So, I would love to open this question up to all of you. Please feel free to link to your favorite vegetarian holiday recipes to help this reader out.

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18 thoughts on “Countdown to Turkey Day 2009: A Vegetarian Ask the Audience”

  1. I've always loved ratatouille–it has a wide variety of flavors, has a rich, warm overall taste, and I think many people can enjoy it. It's extremely popular and common in France. Another thing I think is really good is smoky pumpkin soup. I have a recipe in Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins' Silver Palate Cookbook that I could share if you're interested. It asks for bacon, but maybe you could substitute a vegetarian bacon substitute just to get that smoky flavor…or liquid smoke? Maybe Heather could suggest something there.

    • I found the recipe online. Here it is.
      Smoky Pumpkin Soup
      From The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins

      6 slices bacon, diced, cooked crisp, fat reserved
      4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
      6 cups peeled cut-up pumpkin (1-inch pieces)
      6 cups beef stock
      1/2 cup Marsala
      1 teaspoon dried thyme (I used herbes de Provence, as I didn't have thyme)
      Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste (another use for my newly acquired smoked salt!)
      Toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish

      Heat the bacon fat and butter in a stock pot over medium-high heat (I cooked the diced bacon in the stock pot and removed it with a slotted spoon to avoid dirtying two pots). Add the pumpkin and sauté for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

      Pour in the stock and simmer, covered, until the pumpkin is very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat.

      Add the Marsala, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste (I used probably a teaspoon of smoked salt and a half to one teaspoon of pepper). Process the soup in batches in a food processor or a blender until smooth (why don't I have an immersion blender??). Return to the stock pot.

      Add the cooked bacon. Simmer 10 minutes. Serve immediately, garnished with pumpkin seeds.

      • Okay, now that I look at it more carefully, I can see that a few substitutes might be needed. I always use vegetable stock. I'm not sure about the butter–maybe a vegetable fat or shortening might work…or just skip it. And I'm sure veggie bacon would be fine if you chop it up small.

  2. In the comments I suggested a frittata as this is amenable to any combo of vegetables (though the binder is eggs, so if she is vegetarian this won't work). You can pick something like mushrooms and zucchini or bell pepper, or spinach and onion – whatever you have around.

  3. We eat vegetarian a lot in my house and sometimes for special dinners I like to make butternut squash risotto ( has a great recipe for it) which is perfect for the fall season. We live in Louisiana so I also frequently make vegetarian versions of Cajun/Creole dishes like red beans and rice, or corn maque choux with grilled eggplant on top, vegetarian gumbo, etc, but I don't know that she'd want to do something like that for Thanksgiving.

  4. I like the Comprehensively Stuffed Squash from the original Moosewood Cookbook. It has 2 stuffings- savory and sweetish, both of which I have served to meat eaters at thanksgiving and they loved. They are also filling as a main dish and you don't feel deprived. Great with the in-season squashes (cheap too). A Google search should turn these recipes up, or any good library or bookstore should have the book.

  5. I appreciate your great suggestions! Just found out the venue for dinner has moved to MY house as the cousin that was hosting has H1N1….Oh no! Poor thing….However, not only do I have to cook more, I also have to whip my house into shape! Will copy the blog URL to my daughter and she can look for whatever strikes her fancy. Thanks again!

  6. 2 years ago, I took my daughter and went to the Bahamas for my sister's wedding while my hubby stayed home. He had Thanksgiving at a friend's, and they totally changed it up and served Eggplant Parmagiana. He said it was awesome–maybe not traditional, but fabulous nonetheless. It's become a staple at our house, even though neither family is vegetarian. It's just so good!

  7. A savory mushroom tart with carmelized onions would be beautiful as a main course. Add a small amount of gorgonzola or blue cheese for a heartier version. Or some shredded smoked gouda. The 'smokey" adds a meat'-like savoriness to the tart or a casserole. An artichoke-spinach tart would be nice too.

    So would a vegetable lasangne with a bechamel sauce instead of tomato. (squash and sage lasagne?)

    Polenta with mushroom ragu. Or pasta and mushroom gratin. Potato-mushroom gratin.

    Winter squash halved and stuffed with a pilaf of brown and wild rice or bread stuffing with chestnuts, mushrooms. pecans or pine nuts, dried cranberries or apricots. Or apples and fennel.

    A roasted-stuffed pumpkin would be the star of the show. Here's a link to a delicious sounding recipe. We are not vegetarians, but I do like lots of vegetable sides. This one is going to be a star on our table this Thanksgiving.

  8. How about a lovely vegetable, mushroom and cheese stuffed strudel?

    Or a hearty vegetable stew over polenta.

    Stuffed portobellos en croute

    Puff pastry shells with a mushroom or vegetable ragu

    Giant, vegetable stuffed ravioli with browned butter or pureed vegetable-wine sauce.

    Ideas are endless.

  9. Every year for Thanksgiving I make my favorite: Sweet Potato & Vegetable Pot Pie

    •2 tablespoons olive oil
    •1 onion, chopped
    •8 ounces mushrooms
    •1 clove garlic, minced
    •2 large carrots, diced
    •2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
    •2 stalks celery, sliced 1/4 inch wide
    •2 cups cauliflower florets
    •1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped into 1/2 inch pieces
    •3 cups vegetable broth
    •1 teaspoon kosher salt
    •1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    •2 tablespoons cornstarch
    •2 tablespoons soy sauce
    •1 recipe pastry for double-crust pie
    1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

    2.Heat oil in a large skillet or saucepan. Cook onions, mushrooms, and garlic in oil for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in carrots, potatoes, and celery. Stir in cauliflower, green beans, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are barely tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

    3.In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch, soy sauce, and 1/4 cup water until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Stir into vegetables, and cook until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.

    4.Roll out 1/2 of the dough to line an 11×7 inch baking dish. Pour the filling into the pastry lined dish. Roll out remaining dough, arrange over the filling, and seal and flute the edges.
    5.Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the crust is brown.

    Yummy! Tastes like Thanksgiving Pie!


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