It’s been three years since we have had the big bird at our Thanksgiving dinner. Or, for that matter, any animal or dairy product.
Being vegan is not an easy task most times of the year, but it’s especially challenging during Thanksgiving and the holiday season, given the breadth of tasty treats that make their way to celebratory spreads, office parties, and family get-togethers. From firsthand experience, I can attest to the fact it takes supreme willpower to say no to a candy-cane-studded chocolate cheesecake.
For vegans of all varieties (some hardcore folks avoid nuts, seeds, and oils), there are options to put the happy back in the holiday season, and thanks to YouTube, you can harvest recipes to build a complete menu, from soup to nuts (or beans).
The best vegan Thanksgiving recipes on YouTube
You can actually make hummus using any sort of bean, but garbanzos remain the most practical and popular. This recipe shows that making this popular spread vegan-style takes very little adaptation. My twist is always to add paprika of some sort and to substitute nut butter for tahini. Also, I always double the amount of garlic any recipe suggests, but that’s a matter of preference.
Fully Raw salad
Salad, too, is an easy dish to make vegan. If you leave out any cheese and make your own dressing, whipping up a salad course your vegan guests can enjoy is a breeze. This recipe goes rather raw in its ingredients, using cauliflower in place of potatoes. My twists would include grated or shredded celery root and perhaps more of a julienned approach to the squash.
A simple dressing of olive oil (which plant-strong folks avoid), lemon juice, mustard, and balsamic vinegar will do the trick.
Kale vegetable soup
The folks operating the kale lobby are doing a great job: The world loves this leafy vegetable that is part of the cabbage family. This soup is simple to make using carrots, peas, or whatever veggies you fancy along with kale. The key, obviously, is to use vegetable stock or water in place of beef or chicken stock.
As for me, I hate kale. In the version we will serve for the holidays, spinach or arugula will pinch hit for the trendy kale. Also, I add lots of seasonings including various sea salts, oregano, herbs de provence, and some fresh dill.
Hold your laughter. While vegan meatloaf is a culinary oxymoron, there is no better term to describe its singular glory. Some refer to this entrée as lentil loaf, which is a more apt description, but it is shaped like a loaf and looks like meat—hence the name.
You can make vegan meatloaf in any number of ways, but this one with lentils is perhaps the easiest and most straightforward. If you are in the mood for adventure, try this: Mash a can of beans (any kind), add one cup of rice and one cup of uncooked oats, and then mix with vegetable stock, water, or in my case, the brine from a jar of pickles. Add salsa, mustard, relish, or any condiment of your choosing. For cooking time and temperature, follow the instructions below.
As we examine our sides, let’s start with some bread. Bread is easily done vegan-style; just eliminate the dairy products from the recipe. You can always use a nut milk (almond or cashew) or even soy milk for moisture. To give it that vegan feel, I suggest making them look artisanal, as this video does.
What’s a turkey without stuffing? (What is stuffing like without a turkey? is a better question.)
The bread, rice, mushroom, and sage-flavored dressing might make your guests forget the fact they are eating something healthy. I’ll bet they ask for the recipe.
Vegan pumpkin cheesecake
I admit I am not much of a dessert eater and also not a big fan of soy products, but this recipe for a stunning vegan cheesecake looks like the real thing. As a purist, I have to note that when I did make cheesecakes, I always used the water bath method which yields a dessert with a uniform color and uncracked top. In this video, however, the cooks use a straight-ahead baking technique which seems to work just fine.
This version of the popular holiday beverage uses almond milk instead of egg yolks and milk or cream. The frozen banana gives it texture, and the piquant spices add the required zing. You can add the liqueur of your choice (save for something like cream-based Kahlua) and still keep it a vegan beverage.
Mind you, these recipe ideas are not just for vegans. It’s always nice to be able to welcome guests who have different diets and include them in the social experience that is a large holiday meal.
Photo via SweetOnVeg/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)