Thanksgiving is right around the corner here in the U. S. of A and the excitement is mounting. For the most part, people have long forgotten the original intent of this holiday which is to offer up prayers of thanks for a flourishing harvest and gratitude for general abundance. Nevertheless, every fourth Thursday of November many millions of Americans go into a frenzy of preparatory activities.
Halloween decorations are taken down and stored for the following year, Hanukah and Christmas paraphernalia are temporarily set aside while Thanksgiving adornments consisting of autumnal fruit and vegetable baskets, flowery wreaths and images of turkeys go up in and around private homes and communal arenas such as businesses and public venues. Blushing Fall colors of reds, oranges and yellows become apparent everywhere. Then festive dinners are planned out, guest lists are drafted, travel arrangements are set in stone, etc., etc., etc.
Did I mention festive dinner preparations? Yup, I did!
In that case, let us talk about Thanksgiving dinner. As tradition would have it, conventional meat eaters think about turkeys as being the staples of their Thanksgiving dinners. As a matter of fact and a tragic fact at that, meat-eating individuals cannot imagine celebrating Thanksgiving without a “tenderly juicy turkey” on their dinner plates.
But I am vegan who believes that being thankful needs not, should not and must not involve the killing of innocent birds or any other sentient beings, for that matter. So, what do I prepare in celebration of Thanksgiving?
Here is the animal-free Thanksgiving dinner I will be preparing for myself and 7 guests this year. By the way, not all my guests are vegan or even vegetarian but I can assure you that everyone will love these dishes.
This seems to be the soup of choice for everyone, so I make it for just about every occasion.
- Chop and sauté 2 onions in a large saucepan until they become translucent, then add 3 cloves of minced garlic.
- Chop 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks, 2 zucchinis and 1 cup of broccoli. Add to the saucepan.
- Chop fresh parsley and add to the saucepan.
- Add 3 bay leafs plus 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.
- Pour 8 cups of vegan vegetable broth into the saucepan and allow to simmer for about 25 minutes or until the veggies have softened sufficiently.
- Remove from heat, take out the bay leaves and serve while still hot.
Mashed Butternut Squash and Potatoes:
I made this dish last year and my guest just couldn’t have enough.
- Peel and chop 6 medium size potatoes, place them into a large pot filled with salt water and cook until the potatoes are tender.
- Drain the potatoes and place them into a large mixing bowl.
- Peel, seed and chop 6 butter squashes, place them in a medium size steamer and steam until tender.
- Transfer the butter squashes into the large mixing bowl with the potatoes.
- Add 2 flat teaspoons of sea salt and 5 tablespoons of brown sugar.
- Using a potato masher, mash all the ingredients thoroughly.
- Serve while still warm.
Vegan Turkey-Less Stuffing:
Just because I won’t cook or eat turkey, does not mean that I cannot enjoy the stuffing.
- On the day before your Thanksgiving dinner with guests, cook 4 cups of brown rice until tender and allow it to cool.
- Cut 1 loaf of whole wheat bread into crouton-size cubes and place in a large mixing bowl.
- Sprinkle the bread with 1/2 cup of sage and 1/2 cup vegan poultry-flavored seasoning.
- Chop 4 stalks of celery into small bits and add to the bread mixture.
- Transfer the cooled rice into the large bowl with the bread and seasoning mixture.
- Thoroughly mix all the ingredients in the large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and transfer into the refrigerator where you will leave it overnight.
- On the day of your shindig, remove the large bowl from refrigeration.
- Chop 2 cups of button mushrooms and throw them into the large bowl.
- Chop 8 green onions and throw them also into the large bowl.
- Toss in 1 cup of raw pine nuts and mix everything thoroughly.
- Gradually, add 3 cups of vegan vegetable stock and continue mixing until all the ingredients are incorporated.
- Transfer the stuffing mixture into a large baking dish, sprinkle with 1 cup vegan vegetable stock.
- Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for two full hours.
Festive Pumpkin Pie:
We can’t have a holiday dinner without dessert, can we?
- Take a medium size hubbard squash, slice it in half, remove the seeds and place it on a baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, whisk together 4 tablespoons of pure maple syrup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
- Sprinkle the maple syrup mixture over the flesh of the squash.
- Place the baking sheet with the squash into the oven to roast at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes or until the flesh scoops out easily.
- Using a food processor, combine all the pie filling ingredients (the contents of 1 canned of pumpkin, 1 cup soy milk, 3 gingersnap cookies, 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, 3 tablespoons vegan butter, 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 2 teaspoons ginger powder, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt), add the flesh of the roasted squash and allow to process until the mixture is nice and smooth.
- Pour the contents of the food processor over a vegan pie crust and bake for approximately 35 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the pie from the over, allow it to chill on a cooling rack and transfer into the refrigerator for about an hour before cutting and serving.
Just in case you are not aware of it, you can buy faux turkey meat made of soy which can be easily added to the Thanksgiving table. I personally don’t particularly like it and neither do any of my guests. So we make do without it as we say thanks for the bountiful table before us, as we express our gratitude for the loving company around us and as we count our own individual blessings.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
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