Lagniappe: Thanksgiving Saved!
It's the third Wednesday in November, the the day before Thanksgiving. You have generously (insanely!) offered to host the entire extended family for the big feast. In-laws, outlaws and everyone in between, will be descending on your humble abode in a mere 24 hours and the pressure is starting to build. You have planned and prepped, cooked, cleaned and cleaned some more. The turkey is in the last throes of defrosting, pies have been baked and cooled and all the traditional favorites have been added to the kitchen countdown. You have been in get-it-done mode since the weekend. The good news is, you are feeling confident and---dare you even think it---relaxed. Good for you! You made a plan and worked it like the boss you are! Tomorrow you will put the turkey in the oven, watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, greet your guests and enjoy the day.
"Ping!" It's a text from your cousin Dexter. You haven't seen him in ages! The last time was when his voice was starting to change and you teased him unmercifully...wasn't it? Surely he's gotten over that by now? Wait...he's bringing his new fiancee tomorrow to introduce her to the family. Wow. How can little Dexter be old enough to have a fiancee? Good thing you borrowed some card tables and folding chairs from the neighbors. The Turkey Day crowd is growing. "Ping!" Dexter answers your "Congrats!" reply with a thumbs up, then adds.....wait, what? His fiancee is a strict vegan and will not eat meat, dairy or animal products of any kind. Oh, and they will be coming straight from the airport, and (with the time difference), will have missed a meal or two. Hope that's not a problem....
Your heart starts beating just a little too fast as you realize it's 7:30 pm on the day before Thanksgiving and this is your last opportunity to run to the grocery store. Your mind is racing now. What am I going to feed the fiancee? How could Dexter do this to me so late in the game? Why did I already change into my comfy pajamas?? Do I have enough wine??
Alright, get a grip. Deep breath. Think. Breathe again. Again. Thiiiiink. What would be a delicious and suitable dish that could work as a complete meal for a vegan (fiancee or not...) and could be made from ingredients already on hand? That's right! No need to change out of those comfy pajamas--unless there really is cause to believe you are low on wine--you've got sweet potatoes, you've got quinoa in the pantry, you can make QUINOA STUFFED SWEET POTATOES! So quick and easy! AND, you have 4 sweet potatoes, so you can make 8 servings and make it look like you planned for vegan fiancees all along! Brilliant! Thanksgiving saved! Now, where is that wine? Better make sure it tastes okay before the guests arrive.......
QUINOA STUFFED SWEET POTATOES
4 sweet potatoes
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
2 cups vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon butter (or butter substitute)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
2 cups kale leaves, chopped
½ cup pecans, chopped
½ cup dried cranberries
Salt and pepper to taste
Bake sweet potatoes (skins on) in a 350° oven for 1 hour or until fork tender. While they are cooking, make the filling. Cook the quinoa in vegetable broth. While that cooks, sauté the onion in butter and olive oil, with a pinch of salt, until soft. Add in the kale and sauté 3-4 minutes more until the kale is tender. Add pecans, cranberries and the cooked quinoa to the sauté pan and combine well.
Slice each baked sweet potato in half lengthwise and scoop out most of the filling. You can add this to the quinoa mixture or save for another use.
Fill each sweet potato shell with the quinoa mixture and bake in a 350° degree oven for 20 minutes or until warmed through. Serve.
** These can be prepared and stuffed a day ahead, refrigerated and then baked before serving.