I would wager that most everyone now knows someone that keeps vegetarian in their diet. Of course, that means they will not be indulging in the entire traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey. But there’s no reason to panic; make some minor adjustments to the menu and add one or two more side dishes and you’ll be fine.
One dish everyone looks forward to is the dressing or stuffing. Here’s where you need to make your first adjustment. Make the dressing without meat and use a vegetable stock instead of turkey stock to moisten the bread cubes. Then bake some of the dressing in a separate casserole dish before you stuff the turkey with the rest.
If you like to add the giblets or sausage to the stuffing, you can still do that after you’ve set aside the separate casserole of vegetarian dressing. A word of explanation is probably needed here -- dressing is cooked outside of the bird; stuffing is the same concoction stuffed inside the bird.
Vegetarians need to be sure to get enough protein in their diet without benefit of meat, so you can help them out by including vegetarian dishes high in protein. These dishes could include quinoa, nuts, cheese (good for vegetarians, but not for vegans -- who don’t eat any animal products), lentils, beans, chickpeas, soy and soy products and seitan (extruded wheat protein).
Vegetables generally aren’t high in protein, but spinach, peas, broccoli and Brussels sprouts have more than most.
Lentil quinoa salad
-- This recipe combines two high-protein foods, quinoa and lentil.
1/2 cup quinoa
1-1/4 cups water, plus 2 cups
1/2 cup lentils
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsps. red wine vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 lime, zested
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Put the quinoa in a sieve and rinse in cold water. In a large microwave-proof bowl with a cover, add the rinsed quinoa and 1-1/4 cups water. Cover and microwave on high for nine minutes. Let it sit for two minutes, then stir. Quinoa should be tender enough to eat, but with a little pop upon biting.
Put the lentils in a sieve and rinse in cold water. In a saucepan, simmer the lentils in two cups water until the lentils are tender but not mushy, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool.
In a small bowl, whisk the mustard and vinegar together and drizzle in the oil to make an emulsion. Add the garlic powder, lime zest and salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble the salad: In a medium salad bowl, mix the quinoa, lentils, green onions and chopped cilantro. Top the salad with the dressing, toss to coat and serve.
Roasted Brussels sprouts
--From “The Barefoot Contessa” television show.
1-1/2 lbs. Brussels sprouts
3 Tbsps. olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.
Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt and serve.
Baked vegetable side dish
1 lb. baby red potatoes, halved
2 Tbsps. olive oil
1/2 lb. Portobello mushrooms
6 cloves unpeeled garlic
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/4 lb. cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsps. toasted pine nuts
1 lb. spinach, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 425 F. Place new potatoes in a shallow roasting pan; drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil. Roast for 15 minutes, turning once.
Add portobello mushrooms, placing stem sides up, and garlic cloves to pan. Sprinkle with chopped thyme. Drizzle with one tablespoon olive oil and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Return to oven; cook five minutes.
Remove pan from oven and add cherry tomatoes. Return to oven; cook until mushrooms are softened, about five more minutes.
Scatter pine nuts over potatoes and mushrooms.
Wash spinach and slice thinly. Toss with the potato mixture and serve. The spinach will become wilted from the heat of the other vegetables, cooking it just enough while retaining some crispness and all its color.
Cheddar cheese potato bake
4 large russet potatoes (peeled or unpeeled)
1⁄4 cup butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1⁄2 tsp. dried thyme
1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic (optional)
1-1⁄2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Butter a shallow baking dish.
Thinly slice the potatoes and place in the baking dish.
In a small saucepan, heat butter, onion, salt, pepper, garlic powder and thyme until the butter is melted.
Drizzle over potatoes.
Cover and bake for 45 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
Remove from oven, sprinkle with cheese and parsley.
Return to oven and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted.
1 (15-oz.) can cannellini beans, rinsed, drained
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsps. lemon juice, fresh
1/4 cup basil leaves, fresh, torn
30 Belgian endive leaves
1/4 cup California walnuts, toasted, chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
Puree beans, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice in a blender or food processor until smooth.
Add basil and pulse on and off until basil is finely chopped. Spoon equal amounts into endive leaves and top with walnuts and bell pepper.
Are you hosting the family’s Thanksgiving dinner this year? If so, plan ahead — it’s less than two weeks away — so that you can enjoy your company instead of spending all your time in the kitchen.
It’s such a traditional event that most people already know what their menu is: turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, a vegetable or two, rolls, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie for dessert.
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