The holiday that we endearingly nickname “Turkey Day” clearly wasn’t created with vegetarians in mind. There seems to be a lot of mention of bacon-infused root vegetable dishes, stuffing with breakfast sausage and creamy mashed potatoes mixed with chicken stock. Whether you’re looking to cater an all-vegetarian Thanksgiving or want to add a few vegetarian-friendly side dishes or appetizers to the traditional fare, here are some options that preserve the comforting, fall-themed flavors that we all love about Thanksgiving food.
1. Roasted Carrot Salad
Throw together a roasted carrot salad for a great appetizer. Spice it up with garlic chips and toasted almonds to both emphasize the roasted flavor and add crunch.
2. Sourdough Stuffing
There’s no rule that Thanksgiving stuffing has to be mixed with pieces of sausage or pork to be tasty. Substitute the meat with mushrooms, apples and celery to vary the textures and provide a sweeter flare to your stuffing.
3. Baked Polenta
Polenta is an absolute must for a vegetarian Thanksgiving. This cornmeal mixture can be baked, fried or grilled. Top with creamy mushrooms or your favorite root vegetables like Brussels sprouts, pumpkin or squash to bring vibrant autumn colors to the dish. Trick of the trade: leftover polenta makes for a great breakfast.
4. Butternut Squash with Thyme and Mascarpone
Mashed potatoes are great, but this dish combines the creaminess we love about mashed potatoes with a fall favorite: butternut squash. Plus the slight sweetness of mascarpone cheese makes it even more satisfying and decadent.
5. Dried Shitake Mushroom Gravy
As a vegetarian, having to pass on the gravy while watching my family pour it over their turkey and potatoes is almost painful. Yet, mushrooms can sometimes make the best vegetarian gravy. Use it as a topping, or drink it through a straw. No judgment.
6. Pumpkin Macaroni & Cheese
Macaroni and cheese isn’t a typical Thanksgiving dish, but it should be. A vegetarian Thanksgiving is already a little offbeat, so why not make a new tradition by adding mashed pumpkin to a creamy, cheesy bowl of our beloved mac.