Vegan Highlights from a Carnivore Feast

I’m thankful for many things, among them that despite the fact that we have fifteen vegans, vegetarians, and bacon-loving carnivores all at the same table, my family is able to sit down together and truly enjoy a fabulous communal feast. For this to work as well as it does requires significant cognitive flexibility and adaptable palates. Thanks be to God, we have that, and so, we eat well!

My brother prepared a humungous fresh local turkey brined with fresh herbs and stuffed with turnips and onions, roasted in a bag (which is really the way to go, FYI). Nana invented a fresh and light Lemony Lentil Dip, which absolutely must be paired with sliced cucumber. This and a mildly spicy Pico de Gallo with earthy chips was all gone by the time dinner was served.

We enjoyed a delicious surplus of side dishes, all vegan: Cousin Ashley’s Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Carrots, Nana’s Curried Chick Peas and Lentil Greek Salad, Uncle Frank’s Veggie Chili, my Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Almonds and Cranberries, and Pureed Cauliflower and Parsnips.

We had more desserts than you can shake a drumstick at: Aunt Linda’s Vegan Tart Apple Crisp, Vegetarian Real Key Lime Pie and Chocolate Cream Pie, plus a killer Chocolate Nutella Tart with Salted Pretzel Crust courtesy of Maison Joy Cooking.

I’m not going to pretend that all of this was heart-healthy! But it’s a far cry from Thanksgivings past, which featured the infamous Tello Turkey, draped in two pounds of bacon and basted with the drippings, plus butter-heavy bread and bacon-bit sage stuffing (that’s where the bacon ended up when the bird was served)… for decades. I’m sure coronary artery CT scans are indicated for all of us.

But we’ve moved on, in a much more healthfully adventurous direction. Try some of these easy recipes!

Nana’s Lemony Lentil Dip and Pico de Gallo with cucumber sticks and fancy good-for-you chips. Lemony Lentil Dip: 2 cups cooked red lentils, 1 clove garlic, 1/4 cup lemon juice, pinch sea salt, blended together well, until smooth.
My Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Almonds and Cranberries: For 8 servings, Split and scoop out four acorn squash and roast at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until tender. Meanwhile, make six cups of wild or brown rice (you could use frozen) and mix in 1 cup each dried cranberries and slivered almonds. Mince 1/4 cup chives or green onions and mix in. Season with salt and pepper. Fill the squash halves with the rice mixture and warm just before serving. These were a hit!
Pureed Cauliflower (photo is from a different feast; I made Pureed Cauliflower and Parsnips for this one, and then forgot to take a photo). To serve 8 as a side: Roughly chop up 2 heads of cauliflower, white parts only. Steam with 4 cups of water in a saucepan, until very soft. Use an immersion blender (definitely one of the handiest inventions ever) to puree. Season with salt and pepper; sprinkle with fresh herbs as desired.
Our entire Thanksgiving feast at a crowded table.
Aunt Linda’s Vegan Tart Apple Crisp. I don’t have the recipe yet, but will ask for it!

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