Revisiting a Vegan Thanksgiving
Includes Recipes Below
Thanksgiving is a treasured American holiday that's synonymous with many nostalgic threads: turkey roasting in the oven, family coming to dinner, treasured friends celebrating together, special preparations for the feast, a roaring fire for the gathering, peeling chestnuts, and cooking the time-honored cranberry sauce. While vegans hold many of those same images, we certainly veer in another direction when it comes to the turkey roasting in the oven. We seek a higher plane, one that honors the living turkey and respects its right to live free of the butcher's knife. We rejoice at the Thanksgiving table because we are free from the need to kill an animal, cook it, and eat its flesh forkful by forkful.
Instead, vegans throughout the country, put their creative energies into cooking a host of varied delicacies from the plant kingdom. To date, no single dish has taken on national status to replace the bird. Rather, each family prepares its own favorites for the annual feast.
We invite you to share our recipes for the delectable meal we serve to our family and friends.
Our centerpiece entrée, the Thanksgiving Torte remains the same as last year, because it has become a favorite family tradition for several years. Baked in a springform pan and unmolded onto an attractive footed cake plate, this aromatic and earthy composition of wild rice, walnuts, pecans, mushrooms, soy sausage, and sage is served with Mushroom Gravy on the side. Because we only serve this dish at Thanksgiving, its lusty, savory flavors have crept into our memories with a warming nostalgia that brings everyone to the table with bursting anticipation.
For this year's Thanksgiving feast we offer a few variations on side dishes to add spark to your special celebration meal. You'll notice that color really comes to the foreground. The Harvest Vegetable Roast combines squashes, onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers with accents of black beans and fresh cut corn dotting the vegetable landscape.
Always an appealing addition to a meal, mushrooms will join our colorful array of side dishes this year. We've combined our Mushroom Medley with sage, rosemary, onions, and garlic. Mushrooms are often described as earthy; we agree they do have a definitive earthy depth. However, we also consider them rugged and robust and look forward to inviting them to our table.
Our Red Baron Salad #1 livens the table with a spirited, freshness that can only come from raw vegetables that offer stout and zesty appeal without fail. As suggested by its name, the Red Baron Salad touts elegance, partly because of its colors and flavors, and partly because of its appealing presentation.
While so many dishes that appear on the Thanksgiving table are cooked, a raw salad with extraordinary flavors offers a welcome change with its crisp crunchy textures. The lusty hue of the deep red beets also adds dimension to the autumn colors at the table.
Finally, the moment arrives for the awaited pièce de résistance. Apples 'n' Cream Pie sports the stalwart spicy flavors so favored during the holiday season. Resting at the base of this tantalizing pie is a layer of cinnamon spiced apples. Forming a plush quilt over the apples is a thick blanket of creamy spiced tofu. Baked to perfection and garnished with nutmeg, the pie is a succulent treat you can proudly serve at dessert time.
The Thanksgiving plate that reflects the brilliant colors of autumn brings both comfort and anticipation to the diners. Our Harvest Vegetable Roast most certainly looks appetizing, while offering a medley of the season's gleanings, some from the vine, some from the earth, and others from the bush or stalk. We've not cluttered the recipe with too many seasonings to allow the true flavors of the vegetables to blossom. The emphasis is on freshness and simplicity.
HARVEST VEGETABLE ROAST
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
3 large pattypan squashes, cut into 8 wedges
2 large yellow crookneck squashes, angle sliced into 1/2-inch (1 cm) chunks
2 large onions, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
3 ears of fresh sweet corn, kernels cut off the cob
4 tomatoes, cut into 8 wedges each
2 red bell peppers, cored and cut into 1 1/2-inch (3.5 cm) squares
1 15-ounce (425g) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Mushrooms, an earthy treasure, never fail to gather aficionados at the table. They make an appealing side dish at the Thanksgiving table because they blend so well with the varied flavors of the harvest bounty.
Yield: 6 servings
1/2 pound (225g) oyster mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 cup (240 ml) raw cashews
Concluding a Thanksgiving feast without a festive dessert would seem incomplete. We couldn't let that happen. Our feast will end with an indulgent, decadent, celebratory dessert that honors the occasion with a grand finish--that is, if you have room.
APPLES 'N' CREAM PIE
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Spiced Cream Topping