This was our 17th vegan Thanksgiving so I don’t want to hear about how you have to eat turkey on Thanksgiving because it’s tradition. This is our tradition. More often than not in years past we’ve cooked a huge feast just for us but this year we were happy to have some friends join us for dinner. It was nice to have good company and nice to share the cooking. They brought a fabulous salad with roasted beets, mandarins and an orange vinaigrette, mac & “cheese” and an apple crisp. Since we had guests I didn’t spend a lot of time taking pictures but I did get a quick shot of the salad.
We made a pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce and the main course – a vegan wellington filled with apple-sage stuffing, greens, maple-glazed seitan and roasted butternut squash and topped with sage-walnut gravy. The wellington was something new this year but we regularly break out the puff pastry for holidays.
I didn’t follow any particular recipe for the wellington but here’s a general idea on how it came together. First, make some puff pastry according to this recipe but substitute Earth Balance or other vegan margarine for the butter. Don’t worry about the cake flour either, just use regular all-purpose flour. Or do what I did and use about a third white whole wheat flour. (Hey, it’s got 3 sticks of Earth Balance but it’s got some whole grains so it’s healthy right?)
For the stuffing: I sauteed a little minced onion and diced apple in oil then added some day-old bread slices that I chopped up along with salt, pepper, fresh sage and thyme. Then I added vegetable stock until the consistency was to my liking.
For the greens: I sauteed kale with garlic and olive oil then added a little fresh thyme and lemon juice at the end.
For the seitan: Fry seitan cubes until brown then quickly mix in a tamari/maple syrup mixture at the end.
For the squash: Peel, seed and cube a butternut squash, then mix with olive oil and salt and roast until tender.
To put it together: Roll the puff pastry into a large rectangle, about 15″ x 20″. Spread the stuffing over about the middle half, top with the greens, then the seitan, then the squash. Brush some water onto one side of the puff pastry, fold the opposite side over the filling then close it up and seal it. Fold the ends on top then flip it over onto a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes.
It’s a fair bit of work, but well worth it for a holiday meal. Same goes for the pumpkin pie that Darlene made, mainly using the recipe in Vegan Pie in the Sky with an almond crust. The pie was amazing and had not just fresh pumpkin but sweet potatoes in it as well. And the crust was made with almonds and white whole wheat flour – again with the healthy whole grains!
We love having Thanksgiving leftovers the next day too!
We wrote about this many times on our previous blog and it’s still a go-to meal when we need something quick and/or when we need to use up some leftovers. In this version I stir-fried onion, carrot, beet greens, tofu, garlic, ginger and cashews, then threw in some roasted asparagus left over from last night’s dinner. Once all that stuff was happy I added about 3 cups of cooked brown rice, then about 2 tsp. of sesame oil and 1/4 c. of soy sauce (we use the Trader Joe’s variety that’s fairly low in sodium). And that’s it. Delicious. The kid ate a big bowl of it too so that’s an added bonus.
We’re fortunate to have a nice little vegan Meetup group here in Central Virginia. And we had a good turnout for the Thanksgiving themed potluck we hosted this weekend. It was awesome to have such a huge spread of delicious vegan food. Our contribution (well, Darlene’s really) was a fabulous pot pie with seitan, sweet potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, kale and beets. She went all out on the crust too, using a full two sticks of Earth Balance. Hey, we like to splurge for the holidays. Plus it fed thirty-some people.
If you’re looking for ideas for your own vegan Thanksgiving feast, check out the archives of our former blog. And here are a few more pics from the great potluck spread this weekend. I took the pot pie picture but credit goes to our friend Tom for the rest of these pictures, which I swiped from him because they’re better than the ones I took.
We now bring you another installment of the Mark Bittman love-fest. Darlene has become the pizza master ever since watching this video. The key is using the food processor for the dough, something we hadn’t considered previously. She’s been experimenting with adding more and more whole grain flour to the dough and the latest iteration that really comes out good is half spelt flour and half white whole wheat flour.
As for toppings, you can really do whatever you like. Remember our veggie burgers? We had some left over and they got crumbled and put on these pizzas. There were also potatoes on one (for the kid) and kale on another (for the grown-ups). We often make pizza without cheese and it’s great that way; we’ve also been experimenting (and would like to more) with homemade vegan cheeses but sometimes we do go the more processed route and use either Teese or Daiya (these had Teese). What are your favorite pizza toppings?
Earlier this year I read a great article by Mark Bittman about ChopChop Magazine, whose mission is “to inspire and teach kids to cook real food with their families.” It inspired us to try a subscription to ChopChop. While it’s certainly not a vegan publication, most of their recipes either already are vegan or are easily veganized just by virtue of being simple and healthy. Our 5 year old enjoys looking through the magazine and picking out recipes to try. Unfortunately he wasn’t so keen on this one but we loved it and with him we’ll keep trying. Here’s the recipe from ChopChop. We didn’t have soba noodles so we used whole wheat spaghetti. Which I suppose is another lesson for the kid – you don’t necessarily have to follow a recipe exactly. Substitutions are allowed (and sometimes encouraged).
Why would you pay upwards of 5 bucks for a package of 4 wimpy veggie burgers in the frozen food section of your local mega-mart when it’s super easy to make your own? And you can make them as substantial as you want. Darlene has become the veggie burger master lately and I guess it started with this post on her blog. There are a couple of recipe variations there for you to try but really we hardly ever make exactly the same recipe twice. The basic gist is a couple of carrots, and a medium onion (from our CSA in this case) finely chopped in the food processor, then about 3 cups of cooked brown rice whirred up for a bit, then a cup or more of nuts finely ground. And all this stuff is then combined with a cup or so of wheat gluten and/or ground oats and formed into burgers. You can bake them or fry them. For this version I also threw some kale in with the carrots and onions.
We got a ton of potatoes this year from our CSA so we’ve done veggie burgers many times with fried or roasted potatoes on the side. This recipe makes about a dozen burgers and they freeze well so pulling some burgers out of the freezer can make for a quick weeknight meal.
Though we had these burgers on homemade bread, we do often find ourselves getting store-bought buns. We’d like to make our own buns more often and this recipe is one of my favorites.
I’ll leave you with one more veggie burger variation that we like and that’s Scott Jurek’s Lentil-Mushroom burgers.
I’ve heard of kids who will eat anything you put in front of them but our 5 year old is not one of those. He’ll definitely eat vegetables but sometimes getting healthy food into him is more of a challenge. One thing he loves though is waffles. So here’s a recipe that packs a lot of nutrition into a kid-friendly form. (This is highly adapted from/inspired by Isa’s Gingerbread Waffles from Vegan Brunch.)
1 1/4 c. white flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. spelt flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 c. soy milk
1 c. water
1/2 c. hemp seeds
1 c. frozen chopped spinach
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1/4 c. canola oil
6 Tbs. blackstrap molasses
1 tsp. vanilla extract
What you do
Sift together the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Add the remaining ingredients to a blender and blend well. Next, pour the wet into the dry and mix gently until just combined. (Note that my blender doesn’t quite have the capacity for all the liquid ingredients so I hold back the 1 cup of water and add it at the end – or rinse out the blender with it and then add it.) Now make this mixture into waffles according to your waffle maker’s directions. I get about a dozen waffles from this recipe. They freeze well and re-hear easily in a toaster.
Don’t have a waffle maker? No problem. Just add about a half cup more water or soy milk and make pancakes! Also note that if you don’t have spelt flour, equal parts white and whole wheat will work fine. I’ve made these with up to 2 cups whole wheat flour and they turn out fine. You can try white whole wheat also. Finally, here’s one more tip: measure the canola oil first then use the same quarter cup for measuring the molasses, this way it’ll slide right out of the cup. Six tablespoons is one quarter cup plus another half a quarter cup – just eyeball it and it’ll be fine.
Sound good? Here’s another waffle recipe in the same mold from Darlene’s blog.