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Vegetarian Thanksgiving Entree

We're doing a buffet for 350 at work for the holidays next month. Menu is pretty simple: turkey w/dressing, mashers and gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, tossed salad, cranberries, roll/butter and pie. A good 10-15% of the attendees are vegetarian. Last year we served Tofurkey. We've been asked to serve something else for the vegetarians as the consensus was they didn't like the Tofurkey. They've also said no to vegetarian lasagna.

Sooo, with the 2 vegetarian items we usually fall back on, I am looking for suggestions for an entree for vegetarians that is appropriate to the holidays.

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  1. I don't think in terms of catering numbers; my ideas may be completely undoable for the scale you need to do this. But here are some of my favorite autumn entrees:

    acorn squash halves stuffed with some sort of wild rice-based stuffing
    mushroom bourguignon
    savory tarts or galettes (think sweet potato and chard, or mushroom and some other greens, or leek and onion)
    root vegetables braised in some interesting way
    root vegetable gratin

    Please let us know what you decide on.

    3 Replies
    1. re: debbiel

      We would like to do stuffed squash halves, it was actually our first choice, but since it will be served buffet style, and many non-vegetarians would select it as a side, we'd have to make way more than 50 servings. We've done this party for years and know the client and attendees really well. It's free so the entitlement mentality kicks in and they take anything that isn't nailed down. One year a group of women tried to take one of the chafing dishes back to the office "for the people that couldn't come". That was a new one :-D We've got the oven space to do 350+ squash halves, just not the labor

      I like the mushroom bourguignon idea and a gratin may work as well. Thanks for the ideas

      1. re: DiningDiva

        Here's an article from last week's Times that you may find helpful: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/10/din...

        Thought these sounded amazing as well! They are on my list of things to try .. .

        1. re: bebevonbernstein

          Yum, that sounds good. And that sound you hear is me hitting myself up 'long side the head as we've done veggie wellingtons several times and they are always a big hit. TOTALLY forgot about them

      1. re: sandwichaz

        Have you tried this product? It is available locally so I'll check it out. Thanks

        1. re: DiningDiva

          I have and DO NOT LIKE THEM, just one person's opinion :) The texture is bad, as well as the taste.

          1. re: enbell

            Exactly why I asked and exactly why the client nixed a repeat of tofurkey

            1. re: DiningDiva

              To attempt an analogy with which I have no actual experience
              Tofurkey:Filet Mignon::Gardein:Tube Steak (and judging from other hounds say, we're not talkin' Nathan's)!

      2. Two thoughts:

        1) I thought so many of these sounded good, and many of them are vegetarian (I am not). http://www.chow.com/galleries/131/16-...

        2) Also, when you are talking vegetarian lasagna? most people think eggplant and marinara. However, I've found some awesome recipes (on here, for instance: Winter Greens Lasagna) for lasagnas made with other ingredients, like squash, which are downright awesome and would fit in perfectly with the autumnal theme. NOTE: Most of these use cream-based sauces vs. tomato-based.

        If you don't think of vegetarian as a limitation, you'll find all sorts of great recipes on line at all the major sites, for recipes that use winter vegetables in amazing ways. In fact, most of the recipes that I find myself bookmarking contain no meat.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bebevonbernstein

          I did look at the casserole link and a couple of them - well mostly the Vegetable Shepard's Pie - looked doable. Thanks for reminding me

          Our vegetarian lasagna is a commercial product made by Stouffers. For what it is, it's actually pretty good. The client just wants something different this time around. No lasagna in any form this year.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Wow, that sounds really, really good. My Filipina employees roll a mean lumpia, I bet they wouldn't have too much difficulty rolling mock duck, plus we've got commerical woks in the kitchen and those things rock.

          2. The veggie wellingtons sound great - if that doesn't work out have you considered portobello or eggplant parm or are they too similar to the lasagna? Also, what about veggie tamales?

            1 Reply
            1. re: enbell

              We actually use portobellas as the replacement for the filet in the veggie wellingtons we do. We'd been tossing around the idea of doing something with Portobellas anyway, I suspect they may make an appearance.

            2. Just sort of a follow-up to these posts: I'm a doc filmmaker, and a friend of mine did a doc on food. Yesterday she got married, and had a huge sort of potluck (they "registered" for 4 vegetarian mains, 4 meat mains, vegetarian sides, bottles of wine and spirits, etc., then we all signed up for what we wanted to cook). None of us had any knowledge of what the other was cooking -- I did a couple of Indian dishes from the cookbook 5 Spices, 50 Recipes, which has a TON of great recipes that don't include meat.

              I have NEVER had better food at a wedding, nor have I see such crowded plates outside of Thanksgiving! The colors were absolutely gorgeous, and the food was amazing. Though there were meat options, there was simply no way anyone would miss it if it weren't served.

              I am a dedicated carnivore (though I do strive for humanely raised, hormone-free meat), but there is so much out there for vegetarians other than faux turkeys!

              2 Replies
              1. re: bebevonbernstein

                Well, believe it or not, I actually own that cookbook. I'll take a look through it and see if there's something we can pull out and use. I'm good at expanding recipes so as long as it's a fairly standardized recipe to begin with we can make it work.

                1. re: DiningDiva

                  If you have the book? The lentil-rice pilaf on page 104 is AWEsome (took that to the wedding, too) and lends itself well to additions like raw spinach. Everyone who's eaten it says it's amazing!

                  And while I'm on the subject . . .my very good friend says the lamb is super, too -- I'm just not such a fan of lamb.

              2. Often what frustrates me about vegetarian entrees is their lack of protein.

                Here are a few ideas that have legumes, eggs or nuts...

                Roasted squash with a legume or nut stuffing
                Butternut squash and cheddar quiche
                Lentils as an ingredient of veg wellingtons

                2 Replies
                  1. Vegetable stew with a biscuit topping.

                      1. The stuffed acorn squash is excellent idea:


                        also baked potato with toppings or bean/ squash stew/chili.

                        Most would be happy with your side dishes alone.

                        1. Vegetarian bstilla? A savory mushroom strata using a rich bread like brioche? A moussaka using kidney beans instead of ground lamb? (I've done this and it was fantastic. Of course, anything with a cream sauce poured over the top and browned is going to taste good.)

                          I agree with your vegetarian employees that tofurkey is really a waste, like eating a giant rubber eraser with gravy on it. And while there are many delicious meatless lasagnas, it's what everyone makes for vegetarians.

                          1. Tofu potpie! My mom used to always make it. It is hardy and can be made in mass quantities using casserole dishes.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: kphillips77

                              My wife likes to do a Veggie pot pie for our vegetarian daughter. No tofu in it, though.

                            2. stuffed squash/mini pumpkins :) these look sooo good! I have a squash reserved to try this later on in the week


                              or maybe individual caulifower or potato and leek gratins..yum

                              1. Nut roast. Last Christmas we fought over the nut roast leftovers and that was 8 meat eaters, 1 picky vegetarian and 1 vegan. You can gussy up the presentation as well so it doesn't look like a boring meatloaf.

                                  1. One final recommendation: Food & Wine in particular seems to provide a LOT of great recipes every month that are suitable for vegetarians.

                                    1. I made this wild mushroom bread pudding for my vegetarian guests this Thanksgiving, and it was a HUGE hit. I also made a roasted garlic and mushroom gravy to go with it, which was seriously gilding the lily, but they loved it. The dish doesn't actually need the gravy, but hey, what's Thanksgiving without gravy?


                                      A few notes: I used about 2.5 pounds of mushrooms (chanterelles, shiitake and creminis), I added minced shallots, doubled the cheese and the herbs and used a 50/50 split of heavy cream and whole milk. I baked in a 4-quart cast iron dutch oven, as I wanted a thicker end product. It was perfect.

                                      Since you are cooking for a crowd, the mushrooms would get really expensive, but honestly, you could just use creminis and this would still be amazing. It's also nice that you can bake it ahead and just warm it later.