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Help fill out my vegetarian Thanksgiving feast

I have a ton of sides but really want a main to go along with it. I know it's not necessary, but I want one! I am anti-tofurkey but really want a beautiful main dish that will satisfy everyone at the table. Thanks in advance!

Menu so far
sweet and savory spiced nuts (2009 gourmet, p.104)
crudites (raw vegetables, olives--very light so that people are still hungry!)

Ginger jeweled salad (101cookbooks)
yeast-raised cornbread (101cookbooks)
Corn chive pudding (epicurious)
Sage, Walnut and Dried Fig Stuffing (101cookbooks)
Cranberry sauce with crystallized ginger (epicurious)
roasted garlic gravy (gourmet 2008)
green veg of some kind


other general comments on the menu are also welcome...thanks!

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  1. I've been wishing I had a vegetarian at my dinner (or just a few more people) to justify making the stuffed roast pumpkin with cheese fondue from the new Gourmet cookbook: picture and recipe here: http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/gf/g... It looks beautiful, and would be a great main dish. You could also do a vegetable pot pie.

    1. I always make roasted butternut squash risotto for my main. I adapt a recipe from Epicurious. Will give you the details if you'd like. I like roasted brussels sprouts for the green veg. Your menu sounds fabulous. Good luck.

      1. Thanks to Jasmine and Jane--I think that roasted pumpkin looks amazing!

        I've also made roasted butternut squash risotto, but worry that it won't go with my more traditional sides like dressing, corn pudding, cornbread, etc because of all the starches included. Also, I'm not sure where I'd put the gravy. Gourmet 2009 has a recipe for vegetarian shepherd's pie that I'm thinking about trying but not sure about that yet.

        Continued advice/comments on the menu are welcome! I am going to admit that there will only be four of us, and I know this looks like WAY too much food but I'm planning to cut the recipes down so we don't have too many leftovers. I like variety in my thanksgiving dinner as do my in-laws (that's who we have coming over).

        1. Hey there, how about grilled portobellos? toss them in a little EVO & Sherry Vinegar & then grill or run under the broiler in the oven. You can then stuff them or not.

          Stuffed Eggplants with pinenuts and tomatoes, stuffed any vegetable really.

          Take those mini pumpkins, take off the top, scoop em out, roast em and then fill them back up with wonderful roasted veg medleys.

          Kale stir fry

          1. You're right about there being no need to add anything. This menu has me salivating already. But, you asked for more, so...

            Since you already include a pudding, I'm assuming you are not vegan.

            So what about some sort of egg that would be served atop the dressing? A slow cooked egg, or a poached egg would fit pretty well with the stuffing and gravy. Maybe cook the stuffing, form into cups, and bake an egg into that?

            I might consider substituting a flatbread in place of the cornbread -- nothing wrong with cornbread at all, but I'm thinking it might be nice to get a crunchy crispy texture in there.

            And if dairy is OK, what about a nice cheese? Maybe even split the meal into three courses with the salad, cheese and flatbread coming after the starters?

            1. How about a mushroom pate en croute? It's makes a beautiful presentation, serve it with a sauce, perfect. Mushrooms for me are the closest to meat they have such great texture and flavor.
              and the roast pumpkin looks delicious!

              1 Reply
              1. re: chef chicklet

                That is a great idea as well--I was also thinking of a spinach/mushroom galette or something like that. HMM. Hard time making a decision, but I need to, because I need to get started this weekend!

              2. Since you have gravy and cranberry sauce, one thing you can do a wrap a block of extra firm tofu in miso for a day. Thank makes it wonderfully savory. Then slice in one inch slices and bread like a cutlet - dip in flour, then beaten egg, and then breadcrumbs (for an interesting twist do a mixture of breadcrumbs and ground parmesan). Pan fry in a hot pan until browned on both sides ( about 4 minutes per side).

                1 Reply
                1. re: Dcfoodblog

                  Sounds great for my husband and me, but my FIL will never go for it. He doesn't mind eating vegetarian but hates anything hippie-ish like tofu (I have no idea why--he's a character!). So I need to avoid that for this meal but I love the idea for us! thank you!

                2. what about a souffle, quiche, or tart?

                  1. Creamy mushroom ragout over sweet potato cakes.
                    November 19, 2008

                    Creamy mushroom ragout over sweet potato cakes

                    Total time: 1 1/2 hours
                    Servings: 8 to 12

                    Note: This dish makes a satisfying main course for the vegetarians at your holiday table. For a quicker version, omit the sweet potato cakes altogether and simply spoon the mushroom ragout over roasted and mashed sweet potatoes. This recipe can be prepared up to one day in advance.

                    3 sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), pricked all over with a fork
                    1 1/3 cups panko bread crumbs

                    1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts

                    1 tablespoon light brown sugar

                    1/4 teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg

                    1 egg, beaten

                    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

                    1/2 cup flour

                    1/2 cup olive oil, divided

                    3 tablespoons butter

                    4 shallots, finely chopped

                    1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms (such as chanterelle, shiitake, oyster and cremini), stemmed and halved or quartered

                    1. I really love your idea of a shepherdess pie, maybe heavy on the (wild) mushrooms? Homey, a little traditional and the perfect vehicle for your fantastic gravy as well as all your great sides. I think I would go with peas for the green side but that is just because I love them with mashed potatoes and gravy. Have a great holiday

                      1. We usually make savory pumpkin pie as the main dish. There's a really good Brussels Sprouts with Carmelized Pecans recipe that qualify as your green veg of some kind. The recipe is from Myra Kornfeld's Voluptuous Vegan.

                        1. OK, I'm still hung up on that roasted pumpkin idea, but the gourmet one looks a little rich for us (even on Thanksgiving). Anyone have any other tried-and-true roasted pumpkin idea?

                          What if I left out the bread and corn and added garlic mashed potatoes for my gravy? I'm also trying really hard to balance things that are over-the-top carby/starchy.

                          Also, what if I just used the sage/walnut/dried fig stuffing to stuff the pumpkin and roasted it like that? Thoughts?

                          sweet and savory spiced nuts (2009 gourmet, p.104)
                          Green goddess spinach dip (gourmet 2009, back)

                          Ginger jeweled salad (101cookbooks)
                          Garlic Mashed potatoes
                          Sage, Walnut and Dried Fig Stuffing (101cookbooks)
                          Cranberry sauce with crystallized ginger (epicurious)
                          Roasted Garlic Gravy (gourmet 2008)
                          Roasted Brussels Sprouts

                          Roasted Stuffed Pumpkin (NEED RECIPE FOR THIS, or some kind of ideas)

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: IndyGirl

                            I like your idea of the stuffing in the pumpkin. I recall a recipe where a soup was served in a roasted pumpkin. I would google it. The rest of your menu sounds really well rounded now. I say go for it!

                            1. re: IndyGirl

                              Here's a roasted pumpkin stuffed with a vegetable stew that looks gorgeous. I was eyeing it for the vegetarians in my group:


                              But I've decided to go with a roasted vegetable torta with a mushroom gravy for them instead.

                              1. re: IndyGirl

                                I haven't tried any of these, but I think the stuffed pumpkin is brilliant idea, and may do one of them for my "My in-laws don't do Thanksgiving right so I'm going to do a Thanksgiving dinner my way the Saturday after" dinner.


                                This one's for acorn squash, which would also be good, but you could substitute pumpkins: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                I like the idea of using root vegetables though, and I can't find a recipe for it. Maybe look at some of the Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie recipes and use the filling for that, but put it in a pumpkin?

                              2. The creamy mushroom ragout with SP cakes also looks fantastic....hmmmmmm.

                                1. I'd recommend something hearty and satiating, in a peasant-y sense.

                                  Perhaps, homemade pumpkin ravioli (or manicotti) covered with a pesto-type sauce (spinach/sage/parsley/garlic/pine nuts/parmesan/lemon juice/extra virgin olive oil, perhaps) or a lightly herb-and-allium-enhanced cream sauce and some pecorino romano cheese. There are many sauces that would pair well, and aren't too time-consuming or challenging to make.

                                  Wolfgang Puck has a recipe for pumpkin ravioli here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/wo...

                                  A hearty vegetable lasagna with fresh ricotta and topped with pecorino romano could be a quicker but still delicious alternative.

                                  If you are looking for a good fall soup, escarole (or kale) and white bean (cannelini or great northern beans) could be a change of pace while still being delicious -- and it has the benefit of providing some protein.

                                  Stuffed artichokes are a common New York/Italian-American addition to the Thanksgiving table, and if done right (half on the stove, half in the oven), they're great. Maybe you can use your sage/walnut/dried fig stuffing or roasted garlic gravy with these.

                                  Another more American-style suggestion is perhaps a mushroom dish of some sort (with a red-wine or red-wine-vinegar based sauce), with a side of kale (or spinach) sauteed in garlic-and-olive-oil, and some roasted garlic & herb mashed potatoes made with Yukon Gold or creamer potatoes. If you don't want mashed potatoes, you could cube and roast them with garlic and herbs (rosemary, perhaps), instead.

                                  Hope this helps-

                                  1. Just saw this yummy-looking menu from Cooking Light: http://www.cookinglight.com/entertain...

                                    The main is a Mushroom Shallot Struedel, which sounds like a nice centerpiece to a meal.

                                    1. Saw this one on the Chow sidebar under 10 vegetarian T-giving mains - planning to add it to my Thanksgiving menu as there are a lot of vegetarians - my menu is very similar to yours, with the addition of a very small turkey breast. I am sure you could use small sugar pumpkins instead of squash:

                                      Also if you change your mind on the roasted brussels sprouts, for a green veg these green beans are absolutely incredible - a huge hit last year so I'm making them again this year:

                                      Good luck!

                                      1. OK, my final menu!
                                        THANKSGIVING MENU
                                        sweet and savory spiced nuts (2009 gourmet, p.104)
                                        Green goddess spinach dip (gourmet 2009, back)
                                        veggies (BUY NEXT WEEK, along with salad greens)

                                        Ginger jeweled salad (101cookbooks)
                                        smashed potatoes with roasted-garlic gravy
                                        Sage, Walnut and Dried Fig Dressing
                                        Cranberry sauce with crystallized ginger
                                        Green beans with walnuts and shallot crisps

                                        Pumpkin stuffed with vegetable stew

                                        Seckel pear tart with poire william cream

                                        QUESTION: The stuffed pumpkin recipe from Gourmet (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...) features a Roasted-vegetable and wine sauce. Do you think I could sub Gourmet's roasted garlic gravy for this sauce? I've made it before and the Roasted-vegetable and wine sauce looks high-maintenance for all the other food I'll be making. Thoughts?

                                        Here's the roasted garlic gravy that doesn't come from this recipe:
                                        Here's the Roasted-vegetable and wine sauce

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: IndyGirl

                                          I know you've got your menu, but I just wanted to throw out there that amongst a carb-laden meal, I like to make sure there's some good protein option in there somewhere. Since Pops doesn't do tofu or "hippie food," you could also considering doing an egg-based dish like a Pumpkin Frittata http://thehealthyapple.com/2009/10/22... or http://womansday.ninemsn.com.au/food/... You could also do a Pumpkin Souffle http://www.jamesbeard.org/index.php?q...

                                          1. re: IndyGirl

                                            Late to the party, but I needed to recommend this as it is FANTASTIC! http://whenharrymetsalad.wordpress.co...

                                            1. re: lulubelle

                                              If you add a hummus or lentil spread to your appetizers you would bring in more protein.

                                              1. re: lucyis

                                                Lucy--excellent point--I did actually already add a white bean spread!

                                              2. re: lulubelle

                                                Lulubelle, I saw this in my search and really wanted to try it. We've been eating really healthily around here and I was trying not to totally undo it (even on T-giving) so I looked past this one. It's incredibly tempting, though, I agree!!

                                                1. re: IndyGirl

                                                  Yeah, it's crazy rich, but so yummy! Everything on that blog is great (the writer is a good friend of mine, but I would not recommend it if the recipes were not fabulous)

                                                2. re: lulubelle

                                                  lulubelle, I linked that recipe above, but that post is AMAZING, and makes me want to make it even more.

                                              3. You could make most of that vegetable stew to go inside the pumpkin ahead of time. Then on the big day, roast pumpkin one hour, dump in stew, and finish roasting.

                                                If you really want to be cooking it on Thursday, you could also just make the roasted vegetable and wine sauce part ahead of time and have it ready to use.

                                                1. I tend to want a protein-focused dish for vegetarians, too. But would never serve Tofurkey - blech.
                                                  I'm trying out a lentil-quinoa timbale tomorrow, so I'll let you know if it's a success!

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: cathyeats

                                                    Idea One: Layered Italian Torta - line a springform pan with pastry and layer roasted vegatables and cheeses and herbs, top with more pastry and bake.

                                                    Idea Two: Gourmet magazine did two dishes several years ago that are classics for us: Broccoli-Cauliflower Timbales and Potato-Caraway Croquettes. epicurious.com should have both recipes. Both can be mostly made ahead.

                                                    1. re: cathyeats

                                                      Try to do real and delicious foods that just happen not to have meat, rather than dishes that scream "vegetarian"!

                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                        Ooops, just saw the date. I'm a year too late. Sigh.

                                                        So, how did it go?

                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                          I so agree with this! I am not a vegetarian but I don't want any of my guests to feel like second class citizens and besides I want to, want to eat it also :-)

                                                          Your ideas above sound delicious.

                                                          1. re: just_M

                                                            I am, and these are all great ideas--even a year late--thanks! Keep 'em comin'! We never have a problem finding nice meatless dishes for Thanksgiving. Another show-stopper is a lovely big stuffed blue hubbard squash!

                                                      2. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...

                                                        recently on NPR's All Things Considered (we omit the bacon)

                                                        1. What about a butternut squash lasagna? I saw this recipe in the paper a while back and I've been wanting to try it! The lasagna noodles are replaced by sliced of squash and layered with kale, onions, sage, tomato, and cheese.