Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Day Part 2: My First-Ever Vegan Thanksgiving!

Well, it was a busy 2 or 3 hours of chopping plus actual cooking, but another Thanksgiving dinner is now in the books.  I have to say, the absence of a bird made this thing a whole lot easier - even easier than last year, when I made that giant pot pie with seitan, which I kinda thought afterwards was a lot of trouble for what I ended up with.  On the other hand, the pot pie might be a good idea for some of the leftovers.  Anyway...

Seitan with Herbes de Provence and Citrus

This year I decided that, rather than making one of those awkward vegetarian "roasts" or "bakes" like Whole Foods sells pre-made in the frozen section, I would consider what flavors Steve and I like and what has worked well in the past. That meant veganizing the turkey I made four years in a row before going vegetarian. I pretty much went by intuition with this and most of the other dishes, but here are the ingredients and approximate measurements:

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp Earth Balance
Half of one large yellow onion, sliced lengthwise
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp freshly grated orange zest
2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme
2 one-pound packages of chicken-flavored seitan, drained
(broth reserved)
1/2 cup reserved seitan broth
juice of 1/2 orange
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil and Earth Balance over medium heat.  Add onion, bay leaves and garlic and saute until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add zests and herbs, stir well and cook for one minute.  Add seitan, broth and juices.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 more minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

While that was cooking, I made a similarly-flavored gravy by melting 2-3 tbsp Earth Balance, stirring in the same amount of flour, browning it a little and then adding in 1/2 cup of the seitan broth and the juice of the remaining orange half and lemon half.  It came out a little tangier than I'd planned, but it was still yummy over the potatoes and especially the seitan.

Basic Breadcube Stuffing

I had scanned the Interwebs a few weeks in advance to find vegan recipes for stuffing and other side dishes and vaguely remember finding a breadcube stuffing that I liked that called for mushrooms, celery and carrots, so I made my shopping list accordingly.  But lo and behold, when I went to my list of bookmarked recipes, the only one I could find for Thanksgiving was for dessert (below).  So I pretty much threw this stuffing together from memory of how my veganized spicy andouille cornbread stuffing came together.

2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 cup diced carrots
1.5 cups chopped celery
1 cup diced onion
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sliced mushrooms
6 cups toasted bread cubes
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp fresh thyme
2 tsp ground sage
2.5 cups veggie broth
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add garlic, carrots, celery and onion and cook until carrots and celery have begun to soften, about 5 minutes, adding salt to help veggies release more liquid.  Add mushrooms and cook another 3-5 minutes.

Place bread cubes in a large mixing bowl and add hot vegetable mixture plus parsley, thyme and sage and stir well.  Add broth, one cup at a time, then half a cup at a time, stirring very well to ensure that bread cubes are all moistened (they don't take up the liquid as readily as fresh cornbread) without making them soggy.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Grease a 9x13" baking dish, then pour in stuffing mixture and smooth down the top with a spatula or a big spoon.  Bake for 30 minutes or until cubes on top have browned slightly.

Steve's review: this stuffing has "more complexity and depth" than the cornbread and sausage stuffing from last weekend (probably owing to the sage).  And he liked it, yay!

Mashed pertaters!

The first fresh vegetable I ever learned to cook and still easy peasy: 4 Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-1.5" chunks, boiled in salted water until fork tender, then hand-mashed and seasoned with about 1/2 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder and ground white pepper, 1/4 cup of Earth Balance, about a tablespoon of dried Italian herbs and 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg.  Done.  They were tasty fresh, but for the leftovers I might work in a little bit of soymilk so they don't seem too dry.

Haricots verts with walnuts and rosemary

"Haricots verts" is French for green beans, but when you see the French term, they're referring to French green beans, which are the same as regular long green beans only thinner.  (I'm sure this recipe would be just as good with the regular kind.)  I came across a similarly-titled recipe somewhere that literally called for these three ingredients plus olive oil - just mix it all together, spread the beans with walnuts out on a baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees.  (These went in the oven a few minutes after the stuffing.)  It sounded good except that I knew that we'd enjoy them more with a little salt and pepper, so that's how I made them.  Yum!

Garlicky Kale
(Not pictured; all the photos came out too blurry.)  I had planned on making these with radishes again like I did a couple of years ago, but for some reason Whole Foods didn't have any radishes on the day I made my big Thanksgiving shopping trip and I never got around to buying them elsewhere.  No matter - this was another equally easy and delicious veggie side like the green beans with walnuts and rosemary.  Just melt 2 tbsp Earth Balance over medium heat, add a bunch of chopped kale (I think I had 6-7 big leaves' worth) and stir occasionally until they're slightly more than wilted.  Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Yum yum yum yum yum!

Crustless pumpkin pie

For dessert, I relied completely on this recipe by the Happy Herbivore.  I made this the day before so it would be completely chilled by the time it was ready to be served.  After blending all the ingredients per the recipe instructions, I tasted the mix and...holy crap, that was good!  Just like a pumpkin spice latte!  I'll have to figure out how to tweak this recipe so that it will work as a smoothie.  (Maybe just leave out the flour or substitute wheat germ or flax?  Hmm...)  Anyway, the end result turned out well, although perhaps not as firm underneath as the recipe suggested.  Next time I may make it with a crust - and there will most definitely be a next time!  I was especially glad that this turned out well because, after a lifetime of not being able to eat regular pumpkin pie due to my egg allergy, being able to eat a Thanksgiving sweet that was not apple pie made me feel like I was finally getting my just desserts.  Get it?  (Rimshot)  Thank you, I'll be here all week...

I hope everyone out there had a wonderful Thanksgiving and will enjoy the rest of the weekend!  If you're Black Friday shopping, try not to get trampled underfoot!

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