Each Thanksgiving, countless among us find ourselves preparing meals (from entrées to sides to desserts) for unexpected not-yet-vegan guests or hosts. Suddenly, the pomp and circumstance of a holiday meal is combined with a high-pressure opportunity for great vegan food outreach.
No need to panic! There are plenty of delicious, familiar, and easy-to-make dishes that will please the palate of any guest and quickly win them over. You can wait until they’re done showering you with compliments to explain that they’ve chowed down on animal-free fare.
Here are just a few quick ideas to help you wow your loved ones and showcase how delicious compassionate fare truly is:
- Stuffing and grain medleys: eons ago, before savory vegan roasts were available in every grocer’s freezer, these were probably your unimpressive go-to side. Now, bring it back into style by dressing a store-bought stuffing, rice, or millet mix up with sauteed fresh bella or shitake mushrooms, shredded carrot, finely diced and sauteed onion, and cooked greens such as chard, kale, or spinach into the mix right before serving. And remember: no stuffing is to be served until it has been overwhelmed with garlic and thyme.
- Meat-free loaf: just glancing at the ingredient list and directions for making most meat loaves, you can’t help but realize it’s a dish designed for the laziest cooks and most poorly stocked pantries. Just mix together some meat-free crumbles, bread crumbs, and a few other ingredients, then bake. Out comes a fragrant and easy-to-serve entree which can be dressed up with a ladle of mushroom gravy or a simple tomato sauce with oregano. If you haven’t made one before, our recipe is quick and very easy, even for meat loaf!
- Roasted anything-you-want: getting undeserved praise for simply roasting vegetables is a time-honored Thanksgiving tradition. Toss cubed squash, carrot, onion, potato, brussels sprouts—really, any food item you’ve roasted before with success—in a bowl with some olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary or thyme, and everyone’s favorite: garlic. Roast uncovered at 500 degrees until everything looks delicious and can be easily pierced with a fork. For extra credit, throw chopped or chiffonaded spinach over the top right before serving, allowing the heat to wilt the leaves.
- Stuffed acorn squash: most revered for how amazing they look when presented, these beauties are also a breeze to make. Halve and seed your squash, roast at 350 degrees cut-side-diown and drizzled with olive oil for about an hour, then fill with your choice of seasoned grains and veggies or a simple stuffing with some steamed tempeh tossed in, and return to the oven just long enough to give the filling a satisfying, crunch texture on top. Not simple enough? Healthy Crush has a great recipe to refer to.
So, now that the grocery store shelves are nearly bare and every local news station is taking an official stand on fresh versus canned cranberry sauce, are you ready to pull some menu ideas together just hours before departing or greeting guests? We’ve got even more simple recipes featured on our website, VegRecipes.org.