The fall and winter holidays are a special time to bring families together to celebrate, visit, and break bread, but for vegans, it can be a stressful time as well. We’re often left wondering if there will be enough to eat at a relative’s house. Or if we’re hosting, what can we serve that will please everyone? Thank goodness for the Internet, friends! There’s a plethora of vegan Thanksgiving options out there for the taking and the making, and we’re adding our own favorites to the mix, hand-picked from Greens and Grains on the Deep Blue Sea. No shortage of comfort, flavor, or yum factor here!
Start your holiday festivities off right with this hearty appetizer.
Yield: 20 stuffed mushrooms
2 cups arame (half 1.75-ounce package)
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon sake, optional
2 tablespoons shoyu
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon fresh ginger juice
1 cup lightly toasted walnut halves
20 large button mushrooms (about 2-inches in diameter), stems removed
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1. Rinse the arame and place in a medium bowl. Add enough water to cover and let soak for 10 minutes, or until reconstituted. Drain the arame and discard the water.
2. Place the arame in a medium saucepan with 1/ 2 cup water, sake (if using), and shoyu. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium/low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has cooked away. Remove the arame from the pan with a slotted spoon and place in a food processor or blender.
3. In a small skillet, heat the sesame oil over medium/low heat, then add the onions. Sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the ginger juice and stir well.
4. Add the sautéed onion and the walnut halves to the food processor with the arame. Blend the mixture well, but do not make completely smooth.
5. Fill each mushroom cap with the arame mixture, packing it firmly, and mounding it until all the mixture is used. Arrange the caps in an oiled baking dish.
6. Cover the pan lightly with aluminum foil. Place in a preheated 350°F oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are cooked. Serve hot, garnished with parsley and lemon wedges.
Butternut Squash Cream Soup
Another delicious starter, this sweet, golden-colored soup will give you a healthy dose of beta-carotene.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
6 cups cubed butternut squash
5 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup soymilk or rice milk
1 tablespoon mirin
Pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste 1/4 cup chopped parsley
1. Bring the squash, water and salt to boil in a large pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until tender.
2. Reserving the cooking liquid, transfer the squash with a slotted spoon to a blender or food processor. Add the soymilk and about 2 cups of the cooking liquid, and purée until smooth.
3. Return the puréed ingredients to the pot, and add as much of the remaining cooking liquid as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Add the mirin and cayenne pepper. Reheat if necessary.
4. Garnish with parsley before serving.
Optional: Add a sprinkle or two of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg.
Millet Salad with Watercress and Pecans
This delicious salad has a hint of orange and the buttery crunch of toasted pecans, which always remind us of the holidays. Toasting the millet makes it light and fluffy.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
1 cup millet
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon vegetable salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 1/2 tablespoons umeboshi vinegar
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/2 cup julienne-cut carrots
2 cups watercress, large stems removed
1. Rinse the millet, drain, and place in a medium saucepan over medium/high heat. Stir constantly for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the millet is dry and emits a nutty aroma.
2. Add the water, vegetable salt, and 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pan. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Spread out the cooked millet on a tray to cool.
3. While the millet is cooking, place the pecans in an ovenproof pan and place in a 350˚F oven. Stirring occasionally, bake for 10 minutes or until lightly toasted (be careful not to burn). Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
4. Place the cooled millet and pecans in a medium salad bowl. Add the umeboshi vinegar, orange zest, and the remaining olive oil, and mix well. Add the carrots and watercress, toss well, and serve.
Short-Grain Brown Rice with Pecans and Shiitake Mushrooms
For the ultimate comfort food, enjoy this savory rice dish with a side of steamed or sautéed greens.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
2 cups short-grain brown rice, rinsed and drained
3 cups water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted chopped pecans
1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
2 cups hot water
1 tablespoon shoyu
1 tablespoon mirin
1. Place the rice, water, and salt in a pressure cooker. Cover, place on the stovetop over high heat, and bring to pressure. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the pressure come down on its own.
2. Place the shitake in a bowl and cover with the hot water. Soak about 30 minutes to reconstitute. Transfer the mushrooms and soaking water to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add the shoyu and mirin, reduce the heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender.
3. Remove the mushrooms from the pot and set aside to cool. Remove and discard the stems, and thinly slice the caps.
4. Add the sliced shiitake and pecans to the cooked rice. Mix well and serve.