Well, the big day is almost here. Are you responsible for a meal this year, and if so are you ready? If not, this post is for you.
Meals are one of my favorite parts of the holiday season – and that extends from Thanksgiving right through Christmas – because these are times when I have many of the people who are dearest to me around. Making wonderful vegan food for people I care about is one of the best ways I know how to say, “I love you.” Over the years I have tried many combinations of holiday mains and sides. Here are some of my absolute favorites, with recipes – including what I’m making this year!
THE MAIN ATTRACTION
This is an important decision because, of course, you build the rest of your meal around the main attraction. There are several top contenders for this spot in our house!
FESTIVE CHICKPEA TART
This is a recipe from one of my favorite vegan chefs, Dreena Burton, that we made for Thanksgiving this year, and it is FABULOUS. It includes walnuts, spinach and cranberries – making it truly festive looking – and you can make it ahead of time if you like (although I think it’s best served warm, and be careful not to overbake it). *Note, I doubled this recipe for a big family dinner, making 2 tarts instead of one, and it turned out perfectly.
Here is the recipe. The only thing I did differently was I used a homemade crust recipe, which I prefer to a pre-made crust – and this recipe is very quick and easy! Try it out:
Vegan Pie Crust
NOTE: This recipe makes enough for a top and a bottom crust, so because the tart only calls for a base this is perfect if you are doubling the recipe.
In a bowl, stir together with a fork:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (or 2 cups + 1 tbsp spelt flour for GF)
- 1 tsp salt
In a liquid measuring cup, pour:
- 1/3 cup soy milk
- 2/3 cup olive/canola oil
DON’T MIX LIQUIDS TOGETHER
Dump unmixed liquid into dry mixture and stir with a fork until not even just mixed (you will still have some dry bits in the bowl). Put some wax paper onto a damp counter (this help the paper stick to the counter) and put about 1/2 of the mixture onto the paper. Put another piece of wax paper on top, and roll the dough out. Place into your pie plate and fill it up with the good stuff!
CASHEW NUT ROAST WITH SAUTÉED GARLIC MUSHROOMS
This is a recipe that I found several years ago, and I have changed it over the years – and now I think it’s perfect! It’s a rich, delicious centerpiece – and it’s what I’m making this year! (Note, this recipe can also be successfully doubled if you have a big crowd).
- 1/6 cup vegan margarine
- 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
- 1 medium leek, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups good quality veg stock
- 3 cups ground cashew nuts
- 2 tbsp soy flour
- 2 tsp fresh herbs, or 1 tsp dried (winter savory, or I use a combination of oregano, rosemary and thyme)
- 3 cups fine bread crumbs (these can be easily made in the food processor)
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- 3 cups mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped (I use a mix of crimini and portabello)
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
1) Grease a loaf tin lightly and preheat your oven to 375F.
2) Melt the margarine in a large pan and cook celery and leek until translucent.
3) Add stock, and then stir in nuts, flour, herbs, bread crumbs and salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside. (Note, depending on your bread crumbs the mixture may seem dry; if it does, add up to another 1/2 cup of stock; the mixture should be damp and stick together well, but not wet).
4) Fry up onions and garlic in a tsp or so of canola oil. When they are translucent, add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are soft. Set aside.
5) Put about 1/2 of the nut mixture into your loaf tin, and press it down. Put a layer of mushroom mix on top of that and spread it out evenly. Add rest of nut mixture and spread again, pressing it into the tin so that the loaf is compacted. Add remaining mushrooms and spread again.
6) Bake for 35-40 minutes. Let it sit for 10 minutes before serving warm.
Holiday meals are all about the sides! Often the sides are what make the meal feel so traditional and special. These are a few of the sides my family has come to love.
CINNAMON-GINGER CRANBERRY SAUCE
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 2 cups dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup good quality orange juice
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 2-4 tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup (depending on how sweet you like it)
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, chopped fine
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1) Bring raisins, cherries, cranberries, orange juice and water to a boil.
2) Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until some of the cranberries start to burst open. Some will burst and some won’t.
3) Add agave, ginger, orange zest and cinnamon and simmer for a few more minutes.
4) Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Chill for a few hours before serving.
I used to make a lot of different vegetable sides, but since I came upon this recipe, I usually just make these, since there is a variety of veggies here – and you can add/subtract, or adjust quantities, depending on your favorites. Some of these root veggies are not at the top of my favorite list, but somehow, in this recipe, all the flavors meld together to make magic! Try these all together at least once (trust me, I’m a reformed brussels sprout hater because of this recipe!).
- 2 onions
- 3-4 potatoes
- 1-2 turnips
- 2-3 beets
- 2 cups brussels sprouts
- 3-4 carrots
Peel and cut veggies into bite size chunks. Toss veggies with 4 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp rosemary, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp marjoram. Place in roasting pan and cover tightly with foil. Bake at 375F for 35 minutes. Uncover, add salt and pepper to taste, stir and return to oven. Increase temperature to 425F and bake another 20 – 30 minutes.
CREAMY GOLDEN GRAVY
Since I discovered this recipe in the Forks Over Knives cookbook, no other gravy has been made in my house! It’s simple, easy, healthy and delicious!
(Makes 2 cups, so we usually double it)
- 2 cups veg broth
- 2 tbsp soy sauce (low-sodium)
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1/4 cup brown rice flour (this flour stops the gravy from being lumpy!)
- freshly ground black pepper
Put everything except pepper into a saucepan and stir well to mix. Cook over medium-low heat until smooth and thick. Stir occasionally. Season with black pepper to taste. Serve at once.
There you have it! A simple spinach salad to accompany (maybe with a little roasted squash for a festive splash) and I’ll be all set. Whew! I’m exhausted (and happy) at the thought!
Happy Holidays to you all…