Thanksgiving is a day that’s all about eating and enjoying, so when there are vegans involved on the day that’s all about turkey, it’s pretty challenging. What can you serve as a vegan side dishes to turkey that will still be delicious, festive and not totally difficult to prepare and cook?
Sweet potato and chickpea cakes
Lightly fried, these little cakes are filling, packed with protein and tasty. They also display beautifully on the table, which is always a bonus. Mash sweet potatoes with coconut milk, not dairy milk, and add in chopped chickpeas, panko bread crumbs, scallions and seasoning to taste. Don’t be tempted to add butter. If you want to get a little fat in there for flavor, a little olive oil won’t hurt anybody.
Create patties with your hands and fry them right on the stovetop in a little oil. Again, don’t use butter! They’ll come out crispy and tasty and totally vegan-friendly. These little cakes are so good, you can probably get the non-vegans to like them, too.
It’s never too difficult to throw together a veggie-rich lasagna. The pasta, tomato sauce, herbs and spices are all fine. The only tricky part is the cheese, which vegans don’t eat. You can always pick up some vegan ricotta or vegan sour cream as a quick swap. Don’t forget to leave the ground meat out of the recipe, too!
If you can’t find any vegan-specific ingredients at the store for the ricotta, try garlic hummus. This is plant based and has the rich, creamy texture that lasagna needs. To make the meal a little more hearty, add mushrooms and spinach to increase the protein content. It will come out of the oven bubbling and smelling delightful. This is a very filling option for vegan and vegetarian eaters at Thanksgiving.
Black bean burgers
You can always go with an old standby: black bean burgers. They’re increasingly easy to find at the grocery store in the frozen food section, which makes the meal a snap. But if you want to make something from scratch, it’s a pretty quick recipe to whip together some black beans with onions, spices, ketchup and breadcrumbs. Grill them up and they’re ready to eat.
Mustard, ketchup, lettuce, onion, tomato and burger buns are all vegan-friendly already. As long as you skip the mayo, these burgers will satisfy the vegans and fill them up with protein.
Vegetable pot pie
You can’t go wrong with classic comfort food like pot pie. The recipe is actually pretty quick and easy if you take some shortcuts and yet, it comes out of the oven like something you worked on for hours. Use biscuit dough to cover an aluminum bowl to create the bottom crust. Fill it with mixed frozen vegetables and a couple of tablespoons of vegetable broth. Add in mushrooms for heartiness and a little almond milk, half a cup to a cup, for creaminess.
Cover the top of the pot pie with more biscuit dough, pop it in the oven and wait for it to turn golden. Punch a couple of small holes in the top to release steam and when you see a little bit of bubbling happening around the holes, the pie is done.
Colorful and savory, stuffed peppers are a fantastic addition to the Thanksgiving table when you have a vegan in the house. Hollow out green, red or yellow bell peppers. Fill them with a mixture of mushrooms, lentils, spices and vegetables you like. Some rice or breadcrumbs can add a little much-needed thickener to the mix.
Stuff the peppers and cook them on a baking sheet. When the peppers develop a little browning and the inner filling is steaming, take them out to cool and serve.
There’s no shortage of vegan meatloaf recipes out there. Any combination of onions, carrots, spices, brown rice, olive oil and bread crumbs can be turned into a vegan meatloaf. You can add mushrooms and other veggies and just play around until you get the texture and taste you want. Remember not to add an egg to bind it all together, as this will make the recipe non-vegan.
Bake it in a loaf pan, cover with ketchup and you’ll have a rich, flavorful main course for the vegan at the table.
Ask the experts
As more people embrace vegan and vegetarian eating habits, more products appear on the market and more options open up for non-meat eaters. Many grocery stores are now carrying tofu turkey alternatives. You can always grab one of these for your Thanksgiving feast. Check the packaging to be sure it’s marked safe for vegans and you’re golden.
It’s not always easy to accommodate everyone at Thanksgiving. But with just one good recipe, you can serve even those who don’t eat meat something filling and delicious and be a Thanksgiving superstar. You don’t need to have a lot of exotic ingredients or even meat substitutes to make something healthy and hearty for them to eat.