I love holidays that center on food. As a vegetarian with a family that consists mostly of other vegetarians, I have grown up with “meatless Thanksgivings.” To the majority of Americans, Thanksgiving without turkey may sound empty, contradictory, or even inauthentic. I have found, however, that with a little creativity, the vegetarian version of this holiday meal can be just as great and almost as traditionally “Thanksgiving” as you might hope. You can even still closely adhere to the standard menu.
The first of many necessary side dishes is the mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes are a weakness of mine, and more often than not I will eat an entire batch before it is time to actually serve them. My recommendation is to minimize the cream and butter in the recipe in order to maximize the true potato taste and keep it more health conscious. If you want extra flavor, garnish generously with dill or rosemary.
As far as cranberry sauce goes, I have to admit I have never made it myself (shame on me). However, my grandmother, who honestly is the exemplary cook in my family, introduced me to the omnipresent Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce, and this is what I most find myself craving the other 364 days of the year. It is the perfect balance of sweet and tart, and Serious Eats awarded it the title of Best Jellied Cranberry Sauce in 2010.
Stuffing can be served plain, but it is more fun to put it inside of something, especially if you are feeling nostalgic for the stuffed turkey we are replacing with this recipe. The concept of Tofurkey terrifies me, so I have turned to other options. A favorite of mine is stuffed peppers, which can serve as the centerpiece for your vegetarian meal.
I hope your Thanksgiving break is food-filled and amazing! Of course, if it is the former, it is sure to be the latter as well.
Stuffed Red Peppers
Serves 4, adapted from foodnetwork.com
4 red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, with stems intact
4 cups scallions, thinly sliced
6 cups corn kernels, preferably from 10 fresh ears of corn
4 plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups grated pepper jack cheese
4 tablespoons finely sliced basil leaves
1 1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs (you can purchase these at most bakeries or local grocery stores) 1 seeded, diced jalapeño pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Steam the peppers in a large pot for 5 minutes, and set aside in a lightly buttered baking dish.
3. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the scallions, corn, tomatoes, and jalapeño and cook for approximately 3 minutes.
4. Stir in cheese, basil, and half of the breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Fill the pepper halves with this mixture, and top each one with the remaining breadcrumbs. Add 3 tablespoons of water to the baking dish, and cover the dish. Let cook for approximately 25 minutes, until the peppers are fully cooked.
6. Place the peppers under the broiler until they are slightly browned. Sprinkle paprika over them, and serve with a light tomato sauce.