It’s not Thanksgiving until I have been asked “What do you eat for Thanksgiving?” Translation: what do vegetarians eat for Thanksgiving? With no turkey as the centerpiece, Thanksgiving is a wide open canvas for vegetarians.
The menu generally centers around a decadent eggplant parmesan or Indian main dishes prepared more richly than normal (read: cream in lieu of low fat yogurt and ghee tempering). If you’re looking for vegetarian Thanksgiving ideas, here are ten of our favorites that you can work into any menu:
Ten Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes
- Brussels Sprouts in Honey Butter with Chili Flakes – I once ate a pound of these by myself without even realizing it. It was like I started and just couldn’t stop.
- CousCous with Lemons and Haloumi Cheese – Preserved lemons are one of my favorite ingredients to brighten up the taste of pretty much any type of grain or noodle dish. They also add a beautiful and sophisticated touch which will help back up that story that you spent hours slaving away in the kitchen. If you can’t find preserved lemons, use regular lemons. Haloumi cheese adds a nice salty taste with a chewy texture and makes this a more substantial side dish. You could substitute feta cheese for the haloumi.
- Stuffed Mushrooms – These make a regular appearance at our Thanksgiving dinners. They are kind of like the brussels sprouts – once you start eating them, you can’t stop. The main challenge with these is keeping them coming out of the oven at the pace at which they are being eaten. A plus here is that you can make these ahead of time and bake them right before ready to serve.
- Farmer’s Market Vegetable Tian – A tian is an easy, crowd pleaser which you can modify based on vegetables that are seasonal at the moment. Because leftover potential should also be a factor in deciding on what to make for Thanksgiving, it feels like I should mention that tians are great in sandwiches – hoagies or open face – the next day.
- Puff Pastry Samosas – This quick samosa recipe has been a life saver ever since I discovered it as an “emergency appetizer”. You know those moments where you realize that you need to serve something but have almost no groceries and no time? Puff Pastry Samosas are your answer. All you really need are potatoes, frozen peas and a package of frozen puff pastry. You can serve these samosas as an appetizer or even a main dish. I’ve made them both as individual triangle samosas but also as a larger loaf to save cooking time. Both are big hits.
- Crispy Spinach Chaat – This recipe is an adaptation of a popular dish at the restaurant, Rasika, in Washington D.C. After I made it for the first time, I received the cookbook and was able to see the real recipe. Mine is a little simpler so I’m sharing that one here. Also, maybe I should have led with battered, fried spinach and had you at that.
- Vegetarian Chicken Wings – These are also an annual tradition when we get together with my side of the family. We order a huge frozen bag from May-Wah in New York City. Over the course of the Thanksgiving break, we try out different seasoning marinades. Some of our favorite are a yogurt-tikka masala blend, teriyaki and sometimes just olive oil-salt-pepper.
- Whole Cauliflower in Makhani Sauce – Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables because it can be transformed into so many shapes and textures. A whole cooked cauliflower is a great vegetarian main dish option. This version drenches a blanched head of cauliflower in a creamy, tomato spiced sauce.
- Grilled Cauliflower with Spicy Tomato Sauce – I told you I love cauliflower! Here’s another way to serve it up either as a whole blanched head of cauliflower (using the same technique as above) or cut into smaller pieces and grilled and served with a piquant tomato sauce.
- Eggplant Parmesan – Our Thanksgiving dinner is often anchored around Eggplant Parmesan. This is a version that I learned from a chef in Costa Rica (of all places). The differentiator with this recipe is adding a few dollops of pesto with each layer of the dish and using as high a quality parmesan and mozzarella as you can get.