Thanksgiving week: for the non-meat eating crowd

21 Nov

Since Thursday is the beginning of the crazy holiday season when food is on everyone’s mind, I’ve got a series of posts planned about holiday cooking, including some tidbits on food safety, an interview with a food storage expert from the Pampered Chef and a Baker-Hansen family heritage recipe or two.

So today: Thanksgiving for vegetarians. I ate  vegetarian for four years. I became vegetarian right before Thanksgiving, and it was one of the hardest holidays I can remember. I didn’t know how to cook for myself and I wasn’t turned on by the idea of “tofurkey” (really, who is?) So I “ate the sides.” Mind you, sides aren’t bad. But sides without a main dish just aren’t that great, either. So I set out to learn to make myself some “mains,” and that’s how I ended up learning how to cook.

One year, I did eat a tofurkey. The next year, I made a vegetarian lasagna with root vegetables. Another Christmas, I made a vegetarian shepherd’s pie (pictured above), which I remember my sister, another vegetarian, saying was the best meatless dish she’d ever had. (That compliment still makes me proud.) I’m pretty sure there aren’t any Tofurkeys in the Baker Hansen holiday future.

Though I’m eating meat again now, my sister is still a vegetarian, and so I’m still in charge of the family’s vegetarian main dish at Christmas and Thanksgiving. I haven’t yet decided what to make on Thursday, but there are some contenders, including the beautiful layered sweet potato torte pictured at left, featured in the November issue of Vegetarian Times.

This is the menu I first discovered in a 2009 issue of Gourmet Magazine (RIP) and the link includes the Shepherd’s Pie recipe I fell in love with. It’s time-consuming, but worth the work.

So tell me: are you a vegetarian or do you have one in your family? What’s your go-to dish for a meatless holiday?

Images courtesy Gourmet Magazine and Vegetarian Times.

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One Response to “Thanksgiving week: for the non-meat eating crowd”

  1. Sarah Wengert November 21, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    I ate vegetarian for seven years and during that era I was mostly a side queen at holiday gatherings. But one Easter I contributed goat cheese and veggie stuffed portobello mushrooms with a balsamic reduction that were adored. I also got the fam to swap out spinach salad with hot bacon dressing for one with strawberries and champagne vinaigrette — but only on a few occasions. They love their bacon, as so many do!

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