It’s definitely ‘that’ time of the year and you know what that means? Time to gather great plant-based Thanksgiving recipes. I’m not one to want anybody to miss out on a festive gathering and lots and lots of delicious food. That’s why I want to highlight a few of our absolute favorites.
Plan to prepare your plant-based Thanksgiving recipes
Before we get straight into the recipes, let’s take a pause for some organizational time. I fully embrace my organizational tendencies (sister, I can hear your laughter from across the ocean). In my humble opinion, a little planning and a healthy pinch of prep makes the cooking process easier and more importantly more fun.
Let’s get to the grand plan
Planning starts before you gather your recipes and start that list for the ‘big’ shop. Consider first how many folks will be at the table and if there are any dietary requirements you need to consider. You might be making a lot of different dishes, so if someone has a huge aversion to say, apples, then they can just pass on that dish. Severe nut allergies will require more attention.
You’ve got your eaters sorted so now, turn attention to those recipes you can’t wait to make and eat. I find it most expeditious to actually write the name of the dish along with the ingredients I need to make the right amount for the number of guests.
Finalize your list
Finalize your list by combining the ingredients lists so you know exactly how many of the same ingredients you’ll need. You might discover for example, that you should just buy a bag of onions or that 1 bunch of parsley will serve a few dishes. This is also a good time to dive through your spices and dry ingredients. Exactly how old is that jar of thyme and will there be enough? Am I going to use prepared veggie broth or reconstitute veggie cubes? Nothing interrupts the joy of cooking more than realizing that you don’t have what you need.
Cooking times and available space
Once you have your recipes and ingredients sorted have a quick think about how you will navigate your kitchen space including storage and cooking. It’s a good time to make some decisions about bowls, baking dishes and pans as well.
Do some prep
When it comes to timing out multi-dish meals, nothing pays off more than prepping before your cooking day. I always try to do as much as possible. Slice and dice the veggies that keep well in the fridge such as onions, carrots and celery. Go back to your recipes and see which veggies go in the pot together. Prep them and store them together. You might also consider putting a sticky note or another kind of short-term label on your containers to identify which dish the ingredients belong to.
Onward to our Thanksgiving recipes
Here comes the centerpiece of the table. Savory, herby, bread stuffing is surrounded by a ‘meaty’ seitan (vital wheat gluten) roast. Two parts of this recipe come together. The seitan ‘dough’ is made with mushrooms, chickpeas, aquafaba (the liquid from the chickpeas) and spices. This gets wrapped around savory mushroom-cranberry bread dressing and baked in the oven.
- Stuffed seitan roast might look elegant, but it’s not complicated. Here are a few things you can do to make this dish even easier:
- Dice the onions, carrots and celery for the stuffing and store them in the fridge.
- Clean and chop the mushrooms and add them to the fridge.
- In a small container or bag combine the 1 ½ tsp. dried thyme, 1 tsp. sage, ½ tsp. ground black pepper, ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper and ½ tsp. dried marjoram.
- In another small container combine the ⅓ cup dried cranberries and ¼ cup chopped walnuts.
- Dice up the 5 cups of bread cubes. Store these, uncovered or lightly covered in with a paper towel on the countertop. This will help them dry out a bit.
- For the seitan, you can start with a medium mixing bowl and combine the 1 ½ cups seitan, ⅓ nutritional yeast, 1 tsp. ground black pepper, 1 tsp. garlic powder and 1 tsp. onion powder.
- Use a food processor to break down the ⅓ cup of oatmeal and 2 Tbsp. dried mushrooms. You’ll processing this with the chickpeas, aquafaba and tamari the day of cooking.
- In a small jar or container with a lid, make the basting broth by combining 1 cup vegetable broth, 1 tsp. dried sage, 1 tsp. thyme, 1 tsp. dried rosemary, 1 tsp. dried marjoram and ½ tsp. ground black pepper. This doesn’t need to be stored in the fridge. Just be sure to give it a good shake before you use it.
I know a lot of folks can’t imagine a Thanksgiving dinner (plant-based or not) without heaping helpings of potatoes and scalloped potatoes are sure to be a hit. These savory potatoes in the creamy sauce are even more decadent with the addition of sheet pan tofu bacon. What I love about this bacon is that you don’t need time for marinating. It’s all going in the food processor.
- Make the tofu sheet pan bacon a day or two ahead of time. You’ll want to press the tofu for about 20 minutes first and then just follow the recipe to make the bacon bits. Store these in the oven until you need them.
- The creamy, nut-free sauce can be made a day before and stored in the fridge. The sauce might thicken up a bit after it’s been stored so give it a quick reheat on the stove in a small saucepan and add additional plant milk or broth to thin it out.
- Hold off on peeling and slicing the potatoes until they day you will assemble the dish. If you want to prepare the potatoes a few hours ahead of schedule, keep them in a bowl or pan filled with ice water. This will keep them from turning brown.
Of the dishes I look for on the Thanksgiving table, it’s the creamed onions I hone in. That’s the dish I want sitting beside me within easy reach. This recipe is my plant-based version of one of my family’s favorite traditional holiday sides. Dare I say, I think the plant-based version is even better than the original. One thing to consider about this recipe is that you don’t need to peel the pearl onions. You’ll just pop the skins off after you boil them for a few minutes.
- Leave any prep of the onions until the day you cook them. It doesn’t take too much time to cut the stems off and you don’t want them to turn brown.
- Make the sauce a day ahead and store it in the fridge. Reheat it on the stove before you combine it with the onions and add a bit of plant milk if you want to thin it out.
- Prepare the breadcrumbs ahead of time. You’ll need ½ a cup, so you can to that when you cube the bread for the stuffing.
Even if you don’t like Brussels sprouts, this easy recipe that bakes up Brussels sprouts, red grapes with a bit of fresh thyme is honestly delicious. You’ll finish this dish by tossing the sprouts with grapes in Balsamic vinegar and chopped walnuts.
- Wash and trim the Brussels sprouts and wash the grapes. You can store them together in the fridge, so they are oven ready. You can also add the 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme (or 1 Tbsp. dried) along with the sprouts and grapes. Just give everything a quick shake before you spread it out on your parchment-lined baking tray. Done and done.
- Chop the ¼ cup of walnuts so you aren’t scrambling after the sprouts are done and you want to serve them hot. This is where a bit of strategic labeling comes in handy because you might be using chopped walnuts for other recipes.
I created this recipe because we love sweet potatoes and although I wanted something sweet and gooey (because it’s Thanksgiving after all), but we are huge fans of the super sweet or something ‘candied’. Maple pecan sweet potatoes have a less tradition flavor with the addition of ginger to the maple syrup, orange juice and coconut milk. This other beauty of this dish is that you will simply peel and cube the sweet potatoes, no boiling required. They’ll just be going into the oven with the sauce.
- Make the sauce a day ahead. All you need to do is mince the ginger, grate the zest (keep that separately) and juice the orange and then combine all the rest of the ingredients. Place everything in a container or jar with a tight-fitting lid and give it a good shake. Store it in the fridge a day (or two) before. Shake or whisk the sauce before adding it to the cubed sweet potatoes.
- In a small container or bag, combine the orange zest and ⅓ cup chopped pecans.
- On the day of cooking, peel and cube the sweet potatoes and place them in a baking dish along with the sauce you just shook. Top it with the orange zest and pecans. That’s a wrap.
Super simple and delicious apple cranberry salad with creamy cranberry dressing, fresh spinach, crisp apples and crunchy almonds. This is a festive, sweet side salad that will enhance all the other flavors at the table.
- If you want to save a few steps, you can make the dressing the day before. Store it in the fridge and give it a shake before you add it to the diced apples and spinach.
- I like using baby spinach for this recipe. If you buy it pre-packaged, then you are just talking about dumping it into a bowl with the apples and dressing.
- We love adding ½ cup chopped almonds to this salad, but you can use walnuts or pecans or even a mix. Prep those a day or two before, label the container or bag and this salad will take about 10 minutes to prepare on the big day.
Grand meals with lots of different flavors and good company. It’s why we go to the care and effort to plan, prep and prepare. It’s why we strive to present a table full of delicious food that will leave our eaters happy and satisfied. It doesn’t mean the we need to ‘fall off the wagon’. In fact, there are a plethora of plant-based Thanksgiving recipes we can choose from.
I’ve presented a few ideas here, but have a look, there are more if you’d like a less traditional Thanksgiving menu. Take a moment as you plan, prep and prepare your recipes, no matter which you choose. Consider that tope of thankfulness and give yourself permission to be grateful for the moment or positive moments from the past – even from some of those rowdy Thanksgiving tables. Most importantly, consider the good things that the future holds. There’s always the potential for good things. Walk towards those. Peace.