My Vegan Thanksgiving
Things that are an essential part of my annual Thanksgiving experience:
- smell of delights roasting in the oven all day
- absurd amounts of food
- on-point mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, etc
- chaos of family members constantly bumping into each other cooking in the kitchen
- a few minutes of peace when everyone is actually at the table together, to make a small toast right before we dig in
- ample wine
We recreated this at my new house, Workshop House, this year, without any animal cruelty. We had 15 people and everyone contributed something. Here was our full spread:
- Gardein Turk’y Roast - Found this on sale at a local organic food store, but I think it is not too hard to find around the holiday season.
- Veggie Wellington
- Beyond Meatballs + pasta
- Mushroom gravy - Modified this a bit, see my recipe below.
- Mushroom stuffing
- Mashed potatoes
- Roasted sweet potatoes
- Roasted Brussels sprouts
- Green Beans with Almonds
- Homemade cranberry sauce
- Homemade cranberry/orange relish
- Yeasted whole wheat bread
Appetizers, Dessert & Drinks
- Pumpkin bread
- Fruit, nut and oyster cheese board as appetizer (the only non-vegan thing we served – we have some vegans-except-for-oysters)
- Apple pie
- Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Topping
- Pecan pie
- Dairy-free ice cream
- Mulled (Non-Alc) Cider
A few notes
This was my first ever meatless Thanksgiving. I invited family and friends totaling 15 people. I was worried that the meat-eaters would feel like they were missing out on turkey, but my overall sense is that they were quite satisfied with all the food and didn’t have complaints.
I chose the Gardein Turk’y Roast by looking for vegan roast reviews online. The roast was quite good, although I haven’t had any other frozen vegan roasts so I don’t have anything to compare to. But it definitely satisfied my desire for something meatlike to combine with cranberry sauce – and exceeded that expectation to actually be quite tasty, with a crispy crust and nice meatlike texture. And it was incredibly easy to make. For our size group, we made two Turk’y Roasts.
The Veggie Wellington was intended to be a high-effort impressive main dish. It satisfied – both as a lot of work, and quite impressive-looking, and tasty also. We mostly followed the recipe, but included some Impossible Beef in the filling. We made two double-crust puff pastry Wellingtons.
At my family’s traditional Thanksgiving I am usually the one in charge of gravy and I’ve become quite particular about my gravy. Normally I make it with meat drippings, butter and flour. This year I wanted a rich and savory plant-based gravy, and I did some research to find this Serious Eats mushroom gravy, but I modified it just a little:
LQ’s Vegan Mushroom Gravy
- 4 cups “No-Chicken” vegetable stock
- 4 bay leaves
- 3 smashed garlic cloves
- 1 chopped onion
- 1/2 ounce (14g) dried porcini mushrooms
- 6 tablespoons (90g) unsalted Earth Balance buttery sticks
- 12 ounces cremini mushrooms, washed, stemmed, and sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 4 cups sliced mushrooms)
- 4 tablespoons (32g) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) dry sherry
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a saucepan, bring stock to a boil along with bay leaves, smashed garlic and onion.
- Remove from heat and add dried mushrooms. Rehydrate for 15m in the stock. Strain out the vegetables, reserving the stock. Pick out and chop the mushrooms (you don’t have to get them all).
- Wash and dry the saucepan. Add butter and cook over medium heat until foaming subsides, then add porcini and cremini mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes.
- Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
- Slowly whisk in reserved stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until gravy has thickened and reduced by 25% to 3 cups, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in sherry and continue to cook until warmed through, about 1 minute. Stir in chopped thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
Serious Eats didn’t suggest bay leaves, but I tested them and found that they were transformational. They added a ton of flavor to the stock, and instantly transformed the flavor from boring to exciting - at least when starting with a boxed stock. I am sure it would have been better to start with a homemade veggie stock and in that case the bay leaves might not be needed, but they really worked to bring out the flavors of the stock.
For our group we made double this recipe.