Great British Chefs, guest blogger Monica Shaw is on a mission. Her mission is to see whether, as a vegetarian, she can celebrate Thanksgiving with the autumnal comfort that the event represents. Read how she gets on and help her on her mission.
Can you have a Happy Vegetarian Thanksgiving?
Photo by Monica Shaw
Vegetarians often get the short end of the drumstick on Thanksgiving, a day synonymous with big turkey dinners where nearly every dish is either meat-based or destined for a generous dollop of meaty gravy.
But why should we vegetarians miss out on the joyous gluttony of Thanksgiving? I’m done scrounging on side dishes and enduring year after year of nut roasts. Don’t get me wrong: I love green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet yams (even when they come with marshmallows on top), but the sum of their parts do not make a main event.
My mission: to find a vegetarian main dish that embodies the kind of autumnal comfort and celebration that Thanksgiving dinner is all about. An ideal veggie main should be spectacular to look at, utterly moreish and bursting with autumn veg.
The best option I’ve found so far is the stuffed squash. For example, acorn squash stuffed with a savoury wild rice and cranberry stuffing is exquisite and proves that stuffing needn’t be crammed into a turkey to be gorgeous and delicious.
Photo by Monica Shaw
Mushrooms present another option, gloriously autumnal and packed with that statisfying umami punch that Thanksgiving demands. Try serving them on cheesy squash polenta. Or stuff your mushrooms in a pastry as in Vineet Bhatia’s recipe for Lafifa Mushrooms, Braised Spinach and Roasted Tomato Chutney.
The other matter for vegetarians is gravy. Yes, you can make a simple vegan gravy out of mushrooms or onions, but the ultimate gravy recipe in my world is a shallot and port gravy, the perfect accoutrement for mashed potatoes and roasted veg.
Some vegetarians opt for something altogether different for their veggie main: lasagna, moussaka, savoury tarts and quiches. But these dishes don’t really say “Thanksgiving” to me. And they certainly don’t go with gravy.
Hit me with some inspiration: What are you serving the vegetarians in your life this Thanksgiving? We’re discussing this over on the Great British Chefs Facebook page.