Vegetarians At The Feast | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Vegetarians At The Feast

Tips for including vegetarians at your Thanksgiving table 

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Years ago, a typical Thanksgiving dinner looked pretty much the same throughout the United States -- turkey and the usual sides: stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes (or maybe both), maybe some succotash, and perhaps a green vegetable. But times have changed, and while the sacrosanct holiday dishes remain, these days it is likely that someone at your feast is a vegetarian. You need to rethink your menu.

It happened in my family and now it’s a foregone conclusion that there will be a few no-meat-eaters at all of our holiday dinners. Over the years I developed several delicious plant-based, pareve entrees that have gone over big not only with the vegetarians, but also with the carnivores. The bonus is that everyone feels stuffed and satisfied and, most of all, feels welcome at my table.

At times I’ve used meat-like and meat-looking products such as seitan and tempeh, but have found these are not as universally appealing as more traditional foods. So too with tofu, which takes on flavor deliciously (you can add it to soup or any dish with a sauce). I have found it much simpler and less intimidating to stick with more familiar ingredients.

And so can you. Next time you find yourself in need, consider one of the dishes from my Top Ten Favorite Pareve Vegetarian recipe categories:

1. Rice and Beans. This classic combo is incredibly versatile. Make it Cuban style with black beans and a sofrito (onions, peppers, garlic, and cilantro); Louisiana style with red beans and Cajun seasoning; Indian style using chick peas and curry sauce, or my favorite, Mujadarah, a Middle Eastern dish of brown rice and lentils with a heap of caramelized onions on top.

Of course another option is to skip the rice and just use beans: three bean salad or chili. Or, skip the beans and make a rice dish: fried rice (with all sorts of vegetables), rice cakes, or vegetarian paella.

2. Stuffed Vegetables such as rice-stuffed bell peppers; Portobello caps stuffed with quinoa, raisins and pine nuts; tomatoes stuffed with bulgur wheat and veggies.

3. Veggie Burgers (serve with a seasoned mayonnaise, mustard, mashed avocado, or chutney)

4. Vegetable Hash, with or without a fried egg on top

5. Vegetable Stew such as ratatouille or Indian Vegetable Curry

6. Eggs such as Shakshuka; frittata (eaten hot or room temperature); Huevos Rancheros; Omelets

7. Vegetable Pot Pie or Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

8. Whole Grain casseroles such as stir-fried quinoa with mushrooms and Swiss chard or farro or barley pilaf with squash, cranberries and pumpkin seeds.

9. Chao Mein: crisped egg noodles with stir-fried veggies on top

10. Pasta: from classic pasta with tomato sauce to linguine with asparagus and lemon or the more unusual spaghetti with bread crumbs.

Any of these vegetarian dishes go perfectly well with the rest of your Thanksgiving Day menu and might prove to be so popular that you’ll find yourself cooking the dish again way before next Thanksgiving.

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