Save the Turkeys!
Thanksgiving dinner is, without a doubt, one of the most traditional and sacrosanct meals in American cuisine. Every region, culture and family may have its own personal spin on the dishes that grace the table on the fourth Thursday of November, but a common thread connects them all. Thanksgiving dinner is set in stone. Every year, the same familiar dishes will be prepared. Those that participate in the meal not only count on these traditional offerings, they insist upon them!
A roasted turkey is the gold standard centerpiece for dinner. It is the Norman Rockwell image of American Thanksgiving. Mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie and the yearly debate about cranberry sauce (jellied or whole berry) are memories that many of us share. Some Thanksgiving tables would never feel complete without macaroni and cheese or rice and pigeon peas or tamales. There are as many variations on the meal as there are variations of Americans. That is something to give thanks for.
There is one group of Americans who I’ve often felt have the biggest struggle when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, the Vegans. Vegans differ from Vegetarians in that they not only don’t consume protein in animal form, they also eschew any foodstuff produced from animals such as butter, milk, eggs or even honey. Often, Vegetarians will include those items in their diet. They are called Ovo-Lacto (Egg-Milk) Vegetarians. Some Vegetarians eat seafood and they are known as Pescatarians, “pesce” being the Italian word for fish. Full disclosure: I am neither a Vegetarian nor a Vegan. I am an Omnivore, which means that I eat foods from both the plant and animal kingdoms. However, I have Vegetarians and Vegans that are very close to me, so I am sympathetic to both their dietary requirements and their sensibilities.
Those that are newly Vegan might approach the family holidays with trepidation. How to explain to Grandmother that you aren’t trying to say you don’t love her, you just don’t eat turkey anymore. Or mashed potatoes with butter. Or pumpkin pie with eggs. Or even green bean casserole, because it has a cream sauce. Well, what DO you eat? The new Vegan hears that a LOT. My suggestion is that you come to Thanksgiving dinner armed. Not with a weapon, but with a dish. Or two. Make sure that the host knows in advance of your plan, and you will be guaranteed to be able to join in the feasting.
Several years ago, I purchased a delightful book titled “The Oh She Glows Cookbook” by Angela Liddon.
I had been following her blog on www.ohsheglows.com where she discusses becoming a vegan and shares many delightful recipes. My cookbook has Post-It notes and bookmarks and splatters all over, and I turn to it often. Her recipes are creative and satisfying and the photographs are mouth-watering. I immediately ordered a copy for my Vegan daughter-in-law and we both love it! The first recipe I want to share is in the book, but she tweaked it a bit and posted the updated version on her blog. GLAZED LENTIL WALNUT APPLE LOAF, REVISITED is an entrée that will work for Thanksgiving or any occasion. I found the recipe for HIGH PROTEIN GARLIC MASHED POTATOES on the website and have done some tweaking of my own, but both recipes are presented exactly as published by Angela. One (or both) of these dishes will be delicious and nutritious, and will provide protein and some traditional Thanksgiving flavors to Vegans and anyone else who tries them.
GLAZED LENTIL WALNUT APPLE LOAF, REVISITED
Recipe by Angela Liddon “Oh She Glows”
For the Loaf:
1 cup uncooked green or brown lentils
1 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
3 Tablespoons ground flax seed and ½ cup of water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup grated carrot
1/3 cup peeled and grated apple (use any firm variety)
1/3 cup raisins
½ cup oat flour
¾ cup breadcrumbs (unflavored)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning (my addition)
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste (if desired)
BALSAMIC APPLE GLAZE
¼ cup tomato ketchup
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
2 Tablespoons apple butter (or unsweetened applesauce in a pinch)
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Preheat Oven to 325°.
Rinse and drain lentils. Place lentils into a pot along with 3 cups of water (or vegetable broth). Bring to a boil and season with salt. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for at least 40-45 minutes, until all water is absorbed and lentils are a bit doughy. Stir frequently while simmering and add a touch of water if needed. The goal is to overcook the lentils. Mash cooked lentils slightly with a spoon when removing from heat, while leaving some lentils intact. This part is necessary for the loaf to stick together.
Toast walnuts at 325° for about 8-10 minutes. (Keep a close eye on them to avoid burning!) Set aside.Allow to cool, then finely chop. Increase oven temp to 350°.
Whisk ground flax seed with water in a small bowl (making a flax “egg”) and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the garlic and onion for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Now add in celery, carrot, apple and raisins. Sauté about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the cooked lentils, toasted and chopped walnuts, flax “egg”, skillet mixture, oat flour, breadcrumbs, thyme, (poultry seasoning), salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (if using). Adjust seasonings to taste.
Grease a loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Press mixture firmly into pan. Whisk glaze ingredients and then spread half on top of loaf. Reserve the rest for serving.
Bake at 350° for 40-50 minutes, uncovered. Edges will be lightly brown. Cool in pan for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. I usually wait until the loaf is cool before slicing. It slices best when it’s been in the fridge to set. Spread fresh glaze on top just before serving.
HIGH PROTEIN GARLIC MASHED POTATOES
Recipe by Angela Liddon “Oh She Glows”
10-12 large organic red potatoes
3 to 3-1/2 cups cooked navy beans (2 15-oz cans)
¼ cup Earth Balance buttery spread
2 Tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
4-5 cloves of garlic, whole, papery skin removed
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground paprika
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Wash potatoes with a potato scrubber, peel (if desired, or leave peel on) and chop into large chunks. Place potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Cook on medium high heat for about 25-30 minutes or until fork tender. Drain potatoes and place in a large bowl.
Drop garlic cloves into a food processor (while it is running), and process until finely chopped. Add drained and rinsed beans, salt, paprika and process until mostly smooth.
After cooling the potatoes for a few minutes, use a potato masher and mash until desired consistency is achieved. Add the milk and Earth Balance “butter” and keep mashing.
Add processed beans to potato mixture and mash together until smooth. Sprinkle with pepper to taste.