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Nov 24, 2004 06:09 PM

ideas for a vegetarian T-day main dish?

  • c

We're staying in and cooking tomorrow. This is our first vegetarian Thanksgiving and I feel there is a great, big, turkey-shaped void in the meal. I'm not interested in Tofurkey or other meat substitutes, I'm interested in meals that are interesting and complex in their own right. We eat anything, though I would like to avoid broccoli or brussels sprouts if possible.

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  1. This month's Gourmet has a nice menu-- including bruschetta with chickpea puree, arugala salad, broiled polenta sticks, roasted delicata squash and mushrooms with thyme, sauteed broccolini with garlic, roasted vegetable gravy, and frizzled onions. The roasted squash and broccolini, with the polenta sticks and the gravy, forms the "main."

    I have "stuffed" (or topped, as the case may be) broiled portabella caps or hollowed out, parboiled vidalia or large onions with an onion, mushroom, fennel, celery carrot and rice or wild rice mixture, moistened with vegetable broth and lots of butter. I then bake it in the oven on high heat for 30 minutes or so. You could also put the same stuffing inside a parcooked, halved acorn or other small squash. In some years, I add dried fruit, like cranberries, currants, or apricots, and I have also added chopped toasted pecans, or walnuts, or pine nuts. But the mushrooms add their umami-ness to the meal, and make it feel complete. I have made a mushroom gravy to pour over, sometimes with a bit of port or other red wine splashed in. I usually serve a roasted root vegetable with a strong single flavoring like ginger, or horseradish, or rosemary alongside, as well as a green vegetable-- sometimes panroasted green beans with a hit of lemon juice at the end. (See this month's Fine Cooking online for the green beans recipe.)

    One year I made a creamy cheddary mustardy brussels sprouts chopped up creamy mess (but not too wet), and poured it on top of a parbaked whole wheat and hazelnut flour crust, and then baked it as a tart. That was wonderful. I think the idea for the recipe came from the New York Times-- if you can cough up the achive fee, you might be able to get the recipe online. It made some folks rethink brussels sprouts.

    1. I pre-made the butternut squash and mushroom lasagne with fresh sage and thyme (no tomato sauce or anything italian in it - just lots of cheese to hold it together) today. You can find it on I think it was Bon Appetit's suggestion for the vegetarian main dish this year. It had 9 reviews and they all said it was a hit. I'll just pop in in the oven tomorrow, but it did take 2+ hours to chop and prep today.

      I have also done a hearty wild mushroom stew with potatoes and fresh herbs before. Yum. Happy eating!

      1. Here's my favorite: Butternut squash and cream cheese enchiladas. No real recipe - I just use flour tortillas, cooked butternut squash flesh mixed with some cream cheese and sliced green onions. Put some red enchilada sauce on a plate, coat one side of the tortilla with it, put a blob of filling, roll up, repeat. Top with a little soft white cheese (I like quesadilla or monterey jack) and more sauce...bake 20 minutes or so.

        I have also made a recipe for what we rudely call Buddha Balls...tofu mixed with chopped peppers, water chestnuts, green onions, a dab of soy sauce and peanut butter, made into balls and baked, served with sweet n sour sauce...If it sounds interesting I will post the recipe. They are tasty and good.

        Oh,baked pecan and cheese balls served with bechamel too.

        2 Replies
        1. re: snackish

          I would really like the recipe for your Buddha Balls. If you don't post, will you please send to me at Can't wait to try these out on the veggie boyfriend. Thanks so much.

          1. re: twistyhair

            Modified from New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant, Ten Speed Press, 1987

            They call them Buddha's Jewels

            2 cartons of firm tofu, pressed in a colander with a weight on them for about 20 minutes to an hour
            2 Tbsp peanut butter
            3 Tbsp soy sauce
            5-8 green onions, sliced including green parts
            1 colored bell pepper - red, orange or yellow
            6 oz. mushrooms (I like crimini) chopped fine
            1/4 cup chopped parsley
            1/2 cup diced water chestnuts (fresh are best but do what you gotta do)

            Mix ingredients, shape into 2 inch balls with wet hands. Put on a well-oiled baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes at 375.

            1 1/2 cups pineapple juice
            1/4 cup dark brown sugar
            1/2 cup cider vinegar
            1/4 cup soy sauce
            1 garlic clove minced or pressed
            2 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp cold water

            Mix all sauce ingredients except cornstarch in saucepan, bring to boil. Stir in cornstarch mixture and stir constantly, simmering until it clears again and thickens.

            Serve the balls with the sauce. I make this and garlic mashed potatoes and it all went together beautifully.

        2. I usually go with a stuffed pumpkin.

          I bake a stuffing separate with wild rice, stuffing, roasted garlic, onions, golden raisins or cranberry's, fresh sage, pepper, olive oil, mushrooms, pine nuts etc... whatever else you want to add or sub. then cook the pumpkin separate then stuff and reheat when ready.

          My mom used to make this 70's dish called chicken delight. I made it veggie style and it's good.

          Get White Wave fake chicken in a box in the freezer section, shred it and fry with oil, wine and garlic. Then after it cools mix it with 1 cup of veginaise and 1 can of cream of mushroom (you can use vegan non cream if you want) then oil the bottom of a casserole dish. Then sprinkle with cut celery and water chestnuts. Then top with Pepperidge farm stuffing (my favorite) with cooked onions and a bit extra italian seasoning and pepper. Cook the whole thing at 375 uncovered for 30-45 minutes. It's good.

          BTW: the enchillada and other suggestions sounded great! I may try them next year. Thanks

          PS: Never try tofurkey it's gross.

          1. I'm by no means a vegetarian (I recently queried about liver), BUT I do take notice when I enjoy a veg. dish. A veg. colleague of mine once made this wonderful potluck dish w/ quinoa. I don't like brown rice or couscous all that much, but I loved this quinoa stuff. It was so nutty and flavorful.

            No recipe but here's a loose idea: acorn squash stuffed w/ a mixture of quinoa, leeks, mushrooms, zucchini, dried cranberries, and parmesan. Use a good amt. of butter and salt to season. Heck, that kind of dish might even divert my attn. from my beloved turkey...