Thanksgiving can be a problematic holiday for vegans, especially when they are invited over to non-vegan or non-vegetarian homes. The hosts usually mean well, but often there’s not much to be had for vegans at a typical Thanksgiving gathering. When I was young I was lucky that my whole family, aside from a few in the minority, were vegetarian. That included grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts and cousins. The minority didn’t seem to mind because they either had also been raised vegetarian or they chose to keep silent (maybe not – I can’t remember too many early Thanksgivings that revolved around talk of missed turkey).
These days, now that vegetarianism, and to a certain extent, veganism, is more widely understood and accepted, there is more sensitivity involved. Still, it’s challenging for vegans to have a meal sans milk and cheese. This is where I am going to give a minor confession.
I am not a strict vegan. I will eat dairy and eggs if my hosts haven’t considered that I may not eat those things. The only line I refuse to cross is the meat line, mainly because I have never had meat be a part of my diet (yes, never), so to be honest – meat kind of weirds me out as a food group.
With that said, not all vegans eat the same or follow the same set of unwritten rules. Even so, I am going to share one thing with vegans and one thing with meat-lovers.
Vegans: If you’re asked to bring something to a holiday meal, consider these two recipes. They’ve got creaminess and heartiness written all over them! Impress those meat-lovers with your culinary skills, and have them begging for you to come back next year. They might even ask you where you got the recipe. (Send ‘em on over – I don’t mind!)
Meat-lovers: If you have asked a vegan or vegetarian over for a holiday meal, but have no idea what to fix, consider trying to make something that they can eat, and make these two recipes. Just because these are vegan recipes doesn’t mean they are weird or hard. It doesn’t matter if they don’t wind up being the hit of the meal – the fact that you went to any trouble at all to make your veggie guests comfortable is a wonderful gesture and one to be appreciated. They might even ask you where you got the recipe. (Send ‘em on over – I don’t mind!)
I feel like I’m repeating myself…
Vegan Sausage Stuffing
- 1 package Tofurky Kielbasa (or another vegan meat alternative), diced or ground up
- 2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 – 6 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 3 teaspoons Italian season blend
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 pound of bread, cubed (I used an organic seven-grain bread, but you could use most any kind and have it turn out well)
- 16 ounces vegetable broth, or chicken broth substitute
- Cooking spray or olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Dice or grind up the Tofurky, and then saute in a large non-stick frying pan for about five minutes in 2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil.
Add the chopped onion and celery, and saute for another three minutes.
Stir in parsley, Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper. Transfer the vegan sausage mixture to a large bowl. Add the cubed bread and broth and stir together well.
Spoon stuffing into a large baking dish coated with cooking spray or olive oil.
Cover and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Uncover, then bake an additional 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Creamy Mushroom Gravy
This versatile recipe is known as Cashew Gravy on VegWeb.
Two quick notes:
- If you make this gravy to go along with the above stuffing recipe, I would recommend doubling or tripling this gravy recipe to ensure you have enough – I’d lean more toward tripling… But you may want to experiment first to see if you even like this gravy (personally, we love it in our household).
- If you don’t want to use a creamy gravy, I’d highly recommend the gravy I made last year which I thought turned out really well.
- 1 package mushrooms, sliced (I’ve used your standard mushrooms in this recipe here, but I’d also recommend baby bellas)
- 2 cups hot water
- 1/2 cup cashews, rinsed
- 2 tablespoons Braggs Liquid Aminos (a soy sauce substitute) or low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons nutritional food yeast (can usually be found in the supplements section of your grocery store)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Set aside one cup of hot water. Put everything else except for the mushrooms in a blender and blend very well, about five minutes.
Add second cup of water. Pour into a pan, and stir constantly (preferably with a whisk) on medium to high heat until desired thickness. It may take a few minutes to get it thick, but as soon as it starts to thicken up watch it closely to make sure it doesn’t over-thicken, then turn off the stove.
Saute sliced mushrooms in a couple of tablespoons of water.
Saute the mushrooms until tender.
Stir the mushrooms into the gravy, and serve with the stuffing.
The stuffing turned out well, and it tasted really hearty. I think that part of it had to do with the seven-grain bread I used. That kind of bread always has a little extra oomph, but I’m sure you can get away with basic bread and have it turn out just as well (meat-lovers: make sure you read the label for dairy or eggs if you’re buying bread).
I really liked pairing the stuffing with a creamy gravy. I actually experimented with a non-creamy recipe a few weeks ago, but I wound up really disliking it, so I chose to share this gravy instead. I think that this gravy recipe does a good job of balancing the spices and stronger flavors in the stuffing. I’ll repeat what I said above in the recipe, but if you make the stuffing recipe exactly as it’s listed above, I’d recommend doubling or tripling the mushroom gravy recipe to ensure that there’s enough.
P.S. These recipes were requested by a reader (Hi Rachel!) a few weeks ago. If there’s anything you’re interested in seeing me try (and hopefully not fail!) send me a message and I’ll see what I can do. I would have had this one to you guys sooner, but life’s become a zoo the last few weeks! Should calm down after the New Year, though!
P.P.S. Yes, I’m still working on the redesign. Because of the zoo, though, it’s taken a back seat for the moment.