A Vegan Thanksgiving
This year was the first year that Katie and I have had to do vegan fare for the holidays. Last year we did a great job of having a vegetarian Thanksgiving and Christmas, so we were not all that concerned about doing much of the same food vegan.
I have been having conversations with people about how we can do thanksgiving. What amazes me is how convinced so many people are of the seeming impossibility of doing a vegan Thanksgiving dinner. The ubiquitous “But what do you eat?” is asked by many an inquisitive person. Looking back on my omnivore life I cannot at all claim that I really looked forward to turkey per say. While “the bird” is supposedly the center piece of the entire day, and while the times spent at my grandparents house involved my grandfather carving the turkey, it was, in actuality, more about the tradition of sharing the entire experience than it was about taste of the meat. Personally (and I know I can speak for Katie here), it has always been all about the sides: mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, squash, cranberries (any form), stuffing, stuffing, stuffing.
It is easy to substitute in non-dairy butter or soy/almond milk, but there are a number of ingredients that prove to be a bit more difficult to sub out (eg, heavy cream). So if you want to still do great food, with all the flavor and seasoning that Thanksgiving demands, and you don’t want to resort to a Tofurky (which, in my opinion, looks like a grey football), then you will need to do a bit of experimentation to ensure that you are prepared for the big day. I should preface all this by saying that Katie’s sister Erin and her husband Chuck did a lot of the prep and cooking, while we helped with little things here and there (this was mainly because the started early and we didn’t get up there till the afternoon). So thank you Erin and Chuck for willing to make us a vegan thanksgiving! We really appreciate it.
With this gastronomic diversity and resourcefulness in mind, I present you with a Very Vegan Vermont Thanksgiving.
Mashed potatoes – These were really simple. We used Earth Balance, some veg stock, and some cashew cream. For the cashew cream you soak the cashews overnight and then blend the bejesus out of them in a food processor or blender. Season to taste and you have some delicious mashed potatoes that you can gorge yourself on.
Squash – These were also really simple. Just diced up, microwaved, and then mashed.
Cranberries (two ways) – The first way was a simple stovetop recipe. The second way consisted of blending cranberries and oranges (peels and all) in a food processor and then adding a bit of sugar (1/4 cup I think).
Apple-Chestnut Stuffing – This is a Martha Stewart recipe that has apples, chestnuts, and prunes. I believe that Chuck and Erin roasted fresh chestnuts for this, but you can always use canned ones. We subbed out the butter, eggs and heavy cream with Earth Balance, Ener-G egg replacer and cashew cream, respectively. This was a really tasty recipe, and I cannot wait to make it on my own.
Green Bean Casserole – This recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen, but you can find it online here. Again, we used Earth Balance and cashew cream, as well as veg stock. This recipe is amazing. We love mushrooms and green beans, and the flavors are so rich and creamy that we will definitely be adding this to our recipe book. Chuck and Erin actually made two batches of this—one regular and one vegan—and according to Erin the taste difference between the two was negligible. So if you are wondering whether you will need to sacrifice taste you have your answer.
Apple Cider Tofu with Butternut Squash – The pièce de résistance was this amazing dish from Vegan Dad. The different flavors meld really nicely to create a sumptuous dish that screams “holiday.” The cranberries add a wonderful kick of flavor, along with the sweetness of the pears, apples and the apple cider; the savoriness of the tofu and the onions really add to the characteristics of this dish. We baked the tofu ahead of time, instead of frying it. If you do this just make sure to soak the tofu in the cider at some point. We almost forgot this step, so we just did it at the end. This was a really tasty recipe, and all though it may look difficult to pull off it was pretty easy. Give it a try if you want something a little classy for a holiday meal.
The finished meal
Pumpkin Pie Brownies – These are from Post Punk Kitchen
Cherry Apple Raspberry Pie