How to Feed a Vegan
No turkey for Thanksgiving? No worries
Katie Persons (CAS’10) hasn’t eaten a bite of meat for nearly eight years. “I gave it up when I was 13,” she says. “At first my parents worried about what to feed me, but I’d always eaten a lot of vegetables, so the transition was pretty smooth.”
Holiday dinners — particularly Thanksgiving, famous for its traditional turkey and meat-laden side dishes — proved to be a bigger challenge. Persons’ solution? “I end up cooking most of the dinner myself,” she says. “I make all of the sides, including the stuffing, without meat. In fact, the only dish on our table that isn’t vegetarian is the actual turkey.”
Most traditional Thanksgiving side dishes can be prepared to accommodate vegetarians — and even vegans — by making a few minor changes, Persons says. Mashed potatoes, vegetable casseroles, and stuffing all make for savory vegetarian alternatives, as does Persons’ favorite dish: green bean casserole.
Meat-eaters who are hosting vegetarian guests shouldn’t worry, but they should do some research and perhaps some extra work, says Kim Hannon, BU Dining Services executive chef for residential dining. “Offer plenty of breads, beverages, fresh fruits, and nongelatin desserts,” she says. “Also, thoroughly read the ingredients of all prepackaged foods, and beware of gelatin, whey, sodium caseinate, and ‘natural flavors,’ which can be animal-derived.”
Hannon also suggests using vegetable oils instead of animal fats for frying and vegetable shortening, such as Crisco, for pie crust. “Substitutions like vegetable broth, soy margarine, and soy milk are great for vegans,” she says. “Just remember to keep your cooking utensils separate to prevent cross-contamination between meat and vegetarian foods.”
Still, it’s nice to have a meatless main dish, particularly if several guests don’t eat meat. Vegetable lasagna, butternut squash stuffed with wild rice, or a hearty vegetarian stew are tasty options. And for purists, there’s always tofu turkey with vegan gravy.
More adventurous chefs can make their own tofu turkey (see recipe below). A simpler alternative, for those with less time or inclination, is buying a Tofurky Roast.
If your Thanksgiving gathering includes any vegetarian guests, you may find some of the recipes below helpful.
Nut Roast (can be vegan)
2 tablespoons oil or margarine
2 large onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups raw cashews
1 1/2 cups bread
1 cup vegetable soup stock
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups prepared herb stuffing or stale cubed bread
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 sweet onion, finely diced
1 cup chopped green apple
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup dried sage
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 cup vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1. Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil or margarine until tender and remove from the heat.
2. Chop the cashews by hand or in a food processor and cut up the bread. Add the cashews and bread to the onion, then add the vegetable stock, salt and pepper, nutmeg, and lemon juice and put half of the mixture into a small nonstick loaf pan.
3. Make the stuffing: in a large frying pan, sauté the onion and apples in 2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter. Add the garlic, sage, thyme, salt and pepper, rosemary, and vegetable broth. Stir well; cook for 5 minutes. Add the prepared herb stuffing or bread cubes and the pine nuts and mix well. Remove from heat.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
5. Layer the stuffing on top of the ingredients in the loaf pan and add the remaining roast ingredients, making three layers of food in the pan.
6. Place the pan on a baking sheet or in a larger loaf pan (in case it overflows while cooking) and cook for half an hour. The top should be browned.
7. Serve with gravy if desired (see below).
Tofu Turkey with Vegetarian Stuffing (can be vegan)
5 (16-ounce) packages extra firm tofu
Stuffing (see above recipe)
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup tamari
2 tablespoons miso paste
5 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon honey mustard
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1. Mash the tofu and line a medium-size round colander with a cheesecloth or a clean dish towel. Place the crumbled tofu in the colander. Place another cheesecloth over the top of the tofu. Place the colander over a bowl to catch the liquid. Place a heavy weight on top of the tofu. Refrigerate two to three hours.
2. Make the stuffing. See above recipe.
3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet.
4. Combine 1/2 cup sesame oil, 1/4 cup tamari, miso, orange juice, mustard, and orange zest in a small bowl; mix well.
5. Remove the weight from the tofu. Hollow out the tofu so that there is one inch of tofu still lining the colander. Place the scooped-out tofu in a separate bowl. Brush the tofu lining with a small amount of the miso seasoning. Scoop the stuffing into the center of the tofu shell. Place the leftover tofu on top of the stuffing and press down firmly. Turn the stuffed tofu onto the prepared cookie sheet. Put the leftover tofu side (the flat side) down, and gently press on the sides to form an oval shape. Brush with half of the oil-tamari mixture. Place the sprigs of rosemary on top of the tofu. Cover with foil.
6. Bake for one hour, then remove the foil and baste with the oil-tamari mixture (reserving 4 tablespoons). Bake another hour or until the turkey is golden brown. Place on a serving platter, brush with the remaining oil-tamari mixture, and serve hot.
Vegetarian Gravy (vegan)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup chopped sweet onion
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons nutritional yeast
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, nutritional yeast, and soy sauce to form a smooth paste. Gradually whisk in the broth. Season with sage, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until thickened.
Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potato (can be vegan)
3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, large stems stripped and discarded, leaves chopped
1/2 cup warm milk, cream, or soy milk
5 scallions, white and tender green parts, chopped
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish (optional)
fried shallots, for garnish (optional)
1. Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil and continue boiling for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
2. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, chopped kale, and a big pinch of salt and sauté until just tender, about a minute. Set aside.
3. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or fork. Slowly stir in the milk a few big splashes at a time. You want a thick, creamy texture, so if the potatoes are dry, add milk until the texture is right. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Dump the kale on top of the potatoes and give a quick stir. Transfer to a serving bowl, make a well in the center of the potatoes and pour the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with the scallions, Parmesan cheese, and shallots.
Pumpkin Corn Pudding (not vegan)
1 cooking pumpkin, about 8 to 9 inches in diameter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3/4 cup cornmeal
4 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed, divided
4 cups milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup finely sliced scallions
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut off the top of the pumpkin. Scrape out the seeds and coarse fibers. Season the cavity with salt and pepper.
3. Place the pumpkin, cut-side down, in a baking dish. Bake until tender, but still firm enough to be filled, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
4. In a dry, medium saucepan over medium-high heat, toast the cornmeal, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
5. In a food processor, puree 2 cups of the corn. In a medium bowl, mix it with the remaining corn and set aside.
6. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the milk until steaming. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the cornmeal. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes.
7. Stir in the reserved corn mixture, then stir in the eggs, scallions, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
8. Flip the pumpkin cut-side up and return it to the baking dish. Spoon the filling into the pumpkin. Bake the filled pumpkin for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the filling is puffed and browned on top.
Green Bean Casserole (vegan)
2 1/2 cups soy milk
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
4 (14 ounce) cans cut green beans
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
15 ounces French-fried onions
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
fresh ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a pot over medium-high heat, add 2 cups of soy milk, the sliced mushrooms, garlic, and black pepper. Slowly bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Dissolve the cornstarch into the remaining 1/2 cup of soy milk and add to the pot. Stir well for 5 minutes and remove from the heat.
3. Drain the beans and pour them into a casserole dish. Add about 1 cup of the onions to the beans, as well as the soy milk mixture, and toss. Place in the oven for 35-45 minutes, then top with the rest of the onions and cook for a few more minutes, until the onions are brown. Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes.
Serves 6 to 8.
Garlic Brussels Sprouts (vegan)
20 Brussels sprouts, quartered
20 garlic cloves, halved (or quartered if very large)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper
1. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium to medium-high heat and sauté the garlic and sprouts for a couple of minutes.
2. Add the apple cider vinegar and cook sprouts to desired level of tenderness.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Broccoli Roasted with Garlic, Chipotle Peppers, and Pine Nuts (vegan)
2 pounds broccoli, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
2 chipotle chiles, seeded and minced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup pine nuts
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Place the broccoli in a roasting pan. Mix the remaining ingredients together and pour over the broccoli.
3. Bake for 10 minutes. Toss and return to oven for 10 minutes more.
Spice-Kissed Pumpkin Pie (not vegan)
2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups hazelnuts, toasted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cups of canned pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup coconut milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine crust ingredients in a food processor. Press into 9-inch pie pan.
3. Puree 1 1/2 cups of the toasted hazelnuts in a food processor until they turn into a paste. Set aside. Chop the remaining 1/2 cup of hazelnuts and set aside; these will be sprinkled on top after the pie is baked.
4. To make the pumpkin pie filling, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, salt, and cornstarch. Stir in the pumpkin puree and vanilla. Stir in the eggs and coconut milk. Set aside.
5. Crumble the hazelnut paste on top of the pie crust, creating a layer of hazelnuts that will sit between the crust and the filling. Fill the pie crust with the filling and bake for about 50 minutes. The center of the pie should just barely jiggle when you move the pie, and the edges should be set.
6. Serve plain or with a dollop of whipped cream.
Makes one 9-inch pie.
Vicky Waltz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments