Everyone knows I don’t do turkey. I guess the idea of eating a big proud bird just has never appealed to me. When I was 10 years old, I decided my plate of gooey sweet potatoes, glimmering cranberries and perky green beans was just a whole lot more colorful and exciting.
But to a lot of die-hards, a Thanksgiving meal without turkey is like a birthday without candles. And I’m not in the business of spoiling anyone’s fun. After all, a host’s job is to please.
So whether your peeps are turkey-lovers or meatless mavens, here’s my holiday cooking advice: prepare a few traditional dishes, try a few new twists, and have delicious options for folks in both camps.
Last year, even my carnivorous crowd went for seconds of my Wild Mushroom Potato Gratin. I ended up making it all winter. But this year, it’s time for something new. One meatless Monday, I popped this on the table, a lovely Southwestern-inspired casserole topped with fluffy cornbread and served in a cast iron pan. All thumbs up.
Chock full of meatless protein, it’s got your cornbread fans and vegetarians covered. The filling can accommodate just about any vegetables — mushrooms, butternut squash, chiles, black olives, or okra would be great add-ins — and can be prepared a day ahead, along with the topping.
And guess what? It’s even tasty with a side of cranberries.
Serves 8 – 10
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 meatless sausages (I like the chorizo-style ones by Light Life), diced
1 small eggplant, diced (about 1 cup)
1 red bell pepper, roasted and seeded, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 (15-ounce) can Hatch green chile enchilada sauce, mild
1 cup self-rising fine-ground (recommended: Martha White’s) cornmeal
1/2 cup spelt or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup unsweetened soy milk mixed with 1 tablespoon vinegar)
2 eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute, beaten
4 ounces sharp cheddar or vegan cheese, shredded (about 1 cup), divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or vegan margarine, melted
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
2. Prepare the Filling: In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic with the salt until softened. Add the sausages, eggplant, pepper, and zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned, 12 minutes or so. Stir in the spices, beans, and corn, and cook until fragrant. Stir in the green chile enchilada sauce, taste for seasoning, and remove from the heat.
3. Prepare the Crust: In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, salt and honey. Combine the buttermilk and eggs and add to the flour mixture. Stir in the melted butter and half the cheese until just combined.
4. Transfer the filling to a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or divide into individual ramekins. Drop the cornbread topping evenly over the filling, then spread into an even layer. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake until the topping is golden and set, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes to allow to firm up before serving.
Other delicious ideas for a vegetarian Thanksgiving: Stuffed Acorn Squash with Couscous and Cranberries; Wild Mushroom Potato Gratin; Vegetarian Jambalaya; Sweet Potato Coconut Gratin; Brussels Sprout Salad with Chestnuts and Pomegranate; Brussels Sprout Chips; and Cranberry Raspberry Relish.
This Soyabella soy-milk and almond-milk maker could be yours!