meat-free thanksgiving
meat-free thanksgiving
These vegetarian dishes will make you forget all about turkey this Thanksgiving.

This Thanksgiving, if you’re a vegetarian, give thanks for the fact that you can have such a healthy and delicious meal that you won’t even think twice about the fact that it’s sans turkey. Here’s how.

Roasted Delicata Squash Salad (adapted from

With all the meat, cream-based casseroles and starchy vegetables abounding, salads can get lost in the Thanksgiving shuffle. So start your meal off with this light and healthy squash salad that’s as delicious as it is beautiful.

1 medium delicate squash, seeded and sliced into ½-inch-thick rings
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
4 ounces spinach, washed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/3 cuproasted and salted pumpkin seeds
2 ounces shaved ricotta salata

  1. Heat the oven to 400F and arrange a rack in the middle. Brush squash rings with olive oil on both sides and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season well with salt and pepper and roast until the underside of the rings is blistery and brown and fork tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, transfer cleaned spinach to a large bowl, cover with a damp paper towel and reserve in the refrigerator.
  2. When the squash is almost ready, heat olive oil in a small frying pan, add shallot and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until tender and beginning to brown, about three minutes. Deglaze the pan with vinegar, scraping up any bits that are stuck to the bottom and remove from heat.
  3. Pour shallot mixture over reserved spinach and toss to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper as desired. To serve, layer squash with spinach and top with pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle with ricotta salata.

Vegetarian Stuffing (adapted from

Swap out your boring, meat-based stuffing for this hearty and savory vegetarian stuffing that highlights fresh, seasonal ingredients.

2 sticks salted butter
3 tablespoons fresh, chopped sage
1 large white onion, chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 cupscremini mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can vegetable broth
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 loaf day-old French bread
½ cup dried cranberries

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat and add one tablespoon of the sage, onion, celery and carrot. Add garlic, mushrooms and salt and pepper generously. After the apples have cooked for a few minutes, pour the broth into the pan, season with the cayenne and more salt and pepper as needed, and let the mixture cook for a few more minutes.
  2. Tear the bread into approximately ½-inch squares and place in a 2-3/4-quart casserole dish. Add the cranberries and sage. Remove the mixture from the stove and pour it over the bread. Mix well and bake uncovered for about 45 minutes to an hour, stirring at least once for best results.

Root Vegetable Gratin (from Eating Well)

The rich flavor of the Gruyere cheese brings out the nutty notes of the root vegetables in this delicious gratin.

3 pounds assorted root vegetables (beets, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, turnips, etc.), peeled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cupthinly sliced shallots
1 1/3 cupslow-fat milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups finely shredded Gruyere cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cupfresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Cook vegetables in a large pot of boiling water until barely tender, about 5 minutes. Drain.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally until light brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add1 cupmilk and bring to a simmer. Combine flour and the remaining 1/3 cupmilk in a small bowl to make a smooth paste; stir into the hot milk and cook, whisking constantly until the sauce bubbles and thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in ¾ cup cheese, thyme, salt and pepper.
  3. Combine breadcrumbs, the remaining ¾ cup cheese and 1 tablespoon oil in a bowl. Layer the vegetable slices in the prepared baking dish. Pour the cheese sauce over the top and top with the breadcrumb mixture.
  4. Bake the gratin until it is bubbling and the top is golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Glazed Lentil Walnut Apple Loaf (adapted from Oh She Glows)

Whether it’s smoked, roasted or deep fried, everybody knows that turkey is generally the main focus at Thanksgiving. As a vegetarian, you could spring for the Tofurky, but why not grace your table with this hearty lentil loaf instead? You won’t even miss the meat.


1 cupuncooked green lentils
1 cupwalnuts, finely chopped and toasted
3 tablespoons ground flax plus ½ cup water
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups diced sweet onion
1 cupdiced celery
1 cupgrated carrot
1/3 cuppeeled and grated sweet apple
1/3 cupraisins
½ cup oat flour
¾ cup breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons fresh thyme

Balsamic Apple Glaze

¼ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons apple butter
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Rinse and strain lentils and place them into a pot along with3cupsof vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and season with salt. Reduce heat to medium/low and simmer, uncovered, for at least 40-45 minutes. Stir frequently and add additional broth if needed. Mash lentils slightly with a spoon when ready.
  2. Toast walnuts for about 10 minutes and set aside. Increase oven temperature to 350F. Meanwhile, whisk ground flax with water in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the garlic and onion for about five minutes and season with salt. Add in the celery, carrot, apple and raisins and sauté for five more minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together and adjust seasonings to taste. Grease a loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Press mixture firmly into pan. Whisk glaze ingredients and then spread half on top of the loaf, reserving the rest for a dipping sauce.
  5. Bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes, uncovered. Edges will be slightly brown. Cool in pan for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Photo credit: Shutterstock / lola1960



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