When people think Thanksgiving, turkey is usually at the top of the list. I’m a vegetarian, which means no turkey for me…or ham…or any casseroles that contain any of the above. You would think being a vegetarian at this time of the year would be a real downer – nope – I LOVE Thanksgiving! As I get older it’s arguably becoming my favorite holiday (much less waste created than other holidays, no fighting with family over the fact that we don’t do gifts, a time of reflection and gratitude – I could go on – but that would be another blog entirely).
If you’re hosting Thanksgiving and have vegetarian guests coming, or if you just want to cut back on the meat you’re making, here are some of my favorite turkey-free turkey day dishes. All tried and approved by my meat loving husband!
Ps. We tried the whole to-furkey (tofo turkey) one year. . . don’t do it.
Pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween! Their round, orange, goodness extends through November. This soup is simple, delicious and even has vegan options! When cooking this recipe, I use whole milk instead of coconut milk, and honey instead of syrup making our option not-so-vegan – but both ways are yummy!
I’m not talking instant mashed potatoes, people! I’m talking delicious, fluffy homemade potatoes. As a vegetarian, people always seem concerned about protein intake. But, lots of non-meat foods are packed with protein – like greek yogurt and cauliflower – two of the ingredients always included with my mashed potatoes! I don’t have a recipe to link to as I read it in a book many moons ago but it’s simple:
5lbs yellow potatoes (peeled)
1 head cauliflower
1.5 cups plain Greek yogurt
3/4 stick of butter
Boil potatoes and cauliflower (separately) until both are soft. Melt butter. Combine all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and use a hand mixer until fluffy. Add milk as desired to change texture to your preference. Add sour cream, shredded cheese and chives for extra flavor in place of Turkey gravy. Easy peasy!
This isn’t really a typical Thanksgiving dish – but it’s ah-mazing. Plus, it’s a casserole, and in my mind, Thanksgiving is all about the casseroles. Cheesy yummy goodness! We like to add a can of white beans in when we make ours. And because it’s not so strongly associated with thanksgiving you can even put it in your non-holiday regular dinner rotation – score!
When I was a kid my grandma always made sweet potato casserole. I hated sweet potatoes, but I LOVED to eat the pecans off the top. Seriously they were like candy! Now that I’m an adult I can appreciate the entire dish and always make sure she cooks it for us every year 😉 She wouldn’t give me permission to share her exact recipe – but this is verrrry similar!
Kids always want to help to help with the green beans in our house! When I was a kid my job was always prepping the green beans. I would wash them wash them and snap the tips off. Then, I would turn the green beans over to my mom who would turn them into casserole. This year I’ve decided to let this be my kindergarten daughter’s baby. A dish she can cook independently.
Snap the green beans. Put in a pan with olive oil. Salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder for seasoning. Throw a few olives on the pan and put it in the oven. Done.
Having the kids participate brings everyone joy and makes for awesome photos. As with regular dinners, having an easy and pre-planned project for them makes everything less stressful. They will take pride in their dish and stay (mostly) out of your way while you do the rest of the prep work.
I’m not going to lie- when I was buying the ingredients for this recipe for the first time I thought to myself “this seems expensive for mac and cheese, I should just buy Velveeta and call it a day”. But I didn’t, I carried on with my list and made this mac and cheese. Then I ate it. Oh my goodness – there are no words. Worth its weight in gold. I know crock pot space is limited around this holiday – but this bad boy gets priority. Seriously cannot get enough!!
WHITE CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES
Dessert is the best part of Thanksgiving as a vegetarian. Who am I kidding?! Dessert is the best part of life regardless! These are our Christmas cookies every year – but perfect for ‘non’-Turkey day too! The kids are able to make (most) of these cookies independently as well. What you need:
Make peanut butter ‘sandwiches’ with the crackers (this is the part the kids can do). Once you’ve turned all the crackers into sandwiches melt the CandyQuik per instructions on their package (this is the part the adults need to help with). Use a fork to dunk ‘sandwich’ into melted CandyQuik until it is completely covered (kids can do this part too- but parents must remove visual expectations of cookies to avoid stress – take it from experience). Remove cracker sandwich from CandyQuik and place on wax paper. Let dry over night. Done!
My fellow vegetarians- what is your favorite thanksgiving dish?? Comment below!