Free birds, a.k.a. Vegetarian Thanksgiving

I often hear people talking about that one Thanksgiving guest who is “a vegetarian,” and the question surfaces, “What can I serve him?”  If you think about it, though, after the roast beast, most of the other dishes are actually vegetarian and vegan, because after all, it is a celebration of the harvest, and of families, and friends coming together. The roast beast is ‘kind of’ extra.

In an effort to help you discover some new veggie friendly recipes, I’ve done some research. We have so many terrific cookbooks, it was incredibly difficult to only pick a few to highlight. Worse still, was trying to go through the final selections and choose only three recipes from each. (You may notice, I had to include a few more.) The featured recipes were chosen using the following parameters:

  • Does it celebrate the food of the season?
  • What would the presentation look like in terms of the variety, color, unique qualities of the dish?
  • What is recipe’s level of difficulty? Is it a straightforward and simple, or will it require extra effort?
  • Is it “Thanksgiving-y”?

Below, find a selection of cookbooks and recipes that will bring color, joy, flavor, and highlights of the season that may very well become a part of your holiday tradition and, possibly your dinner table.

Plenty : Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi” by Yotam Ottolenghi
This is just a beautiful book. Most of the recipes are simply elegant and with challenge enough to make me want to be a better cook. Thanksgiving possibilities include:
Sweet Potato wedges with lemongrass creme fraiche
Eggplant with buttermilk sauce (pictured on the cover)
Caramelized fennel with goat cheese

On a side note, there are a lot of pomegranate opportunities in this book. Pomegranates are one of those foods that I would prepare to demonstrate my love for my children because it can take a long, messy time. NO MORE! I’m going to share a little secret I learned TODAY about how to deseed a pomegranate, which will come in handy for many of Ottolenghi’s recipes.

Lust for Leaf” by Alex Brown

From the blogging duo, Hot Knives, come cheeky, over the top, vegetarian recipes with a new set of rules.
Thanksgiving possibilities include:
Blackened okra gratin
Kill your idols cornbread

“Vegan with a Vengeance” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

This is one of the best basic recipe books I have found for vegans. Thanksgiving possibilities include:
Ginger roasted winter vegetables
Orange glazed beets
Pumpkin seed-crusted tofu with baked pumpkin and cranberry relish
Kabocha squash stuffed with butternut vindaloo

“Herbivoracious” by Michael Natkin
A wide variety of vegetarian recipes inspired by a number of culinary backgrounds.
Thanksgiving possibilities include:
Red curry delicate squash
Brussels sprout and apple hash
Roasted cippolini onions and beets
Maple pudding with spiced pecans
And, finally, I will share with you the recipe that earned me a prize in the Staff Day Bake-Off, Deb Perelman’s “Apple Cider Caramels,” found in The Smitten Kitchen cookbook.

Random fun fact: Did you know that Thanksgiving was not established as an “official, government sanctioned, happens every year on the fourth Thursday of November” holiday until 1941?

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