A friend recently confessed to me that he uses four sticks of butter in preparing his Thanksgiving meal. Actually, I have nothing against a splurge, if you eat very well the rest of the year, which he does. So this is not a sermon – I’m adamantly opposed to sacrificing one ounce of flavor for this, my favorite holiday. But I just know you can have a mind-blowing feast without all the butter, cream, bacon and sausage.

So I’ve searched and searched for Thanksgiving recipes that will wow vegetarians and omnivores alike, while not clogging their arteries. I think even my butter-loving compadre will find that a lot to love here!  In a departure from tradition for this blog, I have included turkey and turkey gravy recipes here. I want as many people as possible to have a heart-healthy holiday, so I’m going the inclusive route. And I’ve noted whether recipes are vegan and/or gluten-free to make it easy to find what you’re looking for.

Use this as your mix & match menu planner. Pick an app, a vegetarian entree or turkey, a few sides, potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, a dessert and you’re done.  Well, you still have to cook it all, but hopefully this will get you started.

The key to planning your menu is choosing carefully. For instance, make sure every dish doesn’t contain fruit and nuts (a common Thanksgiving pitfall.) Balance savory with sweet, with a few really bold or unexpected flavors, and you’ll have the perfect meal.

Killer Vegan Appetizers

Porcini and Pecan Pâté from Food and Wine. With pecans and dried porcinis, this pâté is an earthy way to start your feast. Serve with toasted whole grain baguette slices. (Vegan, Gluten-free without the bread)

Curried Spaghetti Squash and Chickpea Toasts from Food & Wine. Such an interesting mix of flavors in this app, it’s sure to have people talking – with their mouths full. (Vegan)

Beet Muhummara from The Blooming Platter. Just the color alone gives this intriguing spread a wow factor. And the fact that you can make it in a few minutes doesn’t hurt, either. (Vegan)

Sriracha-Stuffed ‘Shrooms - This recipe is from the awesome new Veggie Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook. I mean, Sriracha-laced cashew cheese stuffed in mushrooms, how can you go wrong? (Vegan, Gluten-free)

Olive Oil-Rubbed Turkey 

Roast Turkey with Rosemary and Lemon from Martha Stewart.  A great, simple recipe, with a generous amount of olive oil standing in for the butter. (Gluten-free)

Oranges and Herbs Roast Turkey from A Beautiful Mess. Wow, just look at this picture! The shock of orange will look great on your table, and once again, olive oil only. (Gluten-free)

Fresh Herb and Salt Roasted Turkey from Fine Cooking. This dry-brined turkey is a great argument for simplicity. (Gluten-free)

Vegan Thanksgiving Entrées

Glazed Lentil Apple Walnut Loaf from Oh She Glows. When I served this to some friends a while back, they remarked, “This tastes like Thanksgiving.” ‘Nuff said. (Vegan)

Seitan Roast Stuffed with Shiitakes and Leeks from Post Punk Kitchen. I’m all for giving vegetarians a hearty dose of protein on Thanksgiving. This recipe fits the bill and is sure to impress. (Vegan)

Maple-Grilled Tempeh from 101 Cookbooks. A simple, flavorful protein to complement all the Thanksgiving sides. And it’s just calling out for gravy. (Vegan, Gluten-free)

Gravy You’ll Feel Good About

My Vegan Thanksgiving Gravy. This stuff always gets raves from the vegans and the meat-eaters, too. (Vegan)

Apple Cider Turkey Gravy from Eating Well.  The sweetness of the cider with the tang of cider vinegar is perfect.

Pomegranate-Rutabaga Low Fat Turkey Gravy from Clean Cuisine and More. OK, this one is just so strange that I had to include it. Let me know if you try it!

The Best Vegetarian Gravy from Umami Girl. I love how Carolyn writes about gravy here. She provides both a butter and an olive oil option. (Vegan)

Side Dishes Without Butter, Cream or Bacon

Arugula, Orange, Olive and Fennel Salad from Rebecca Gray via The Kitchn. I love the idea of the olives, what a contrast they will provide. (Vegan, Gluten-free)

Green Beans Amandine with Leek Chips from Mollie Katzen. Leek chips – yum. Just leave out the small amount of butter, it will be fine without it. (Vegan without the butter, Gluten-free)

Butternut Squash with Red Onion, Oregano and Mint from Mario Batali, via Food & Wine. This one has the added benefit of being fine served at room temperature, so you can make it ahead. (Vegan, Gluten-free)

My Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple-Mustard Glaze. I had to include my Brussels sprouts, because it’s the recipe most likely to convert brussels sprout haters! (Vegan, Gluten-free)

Healthy Green Bean Casserole from Vegan Yum Yum. Trudy developed this recipe for my Healthy Thanksgiving Challenge two years ago and it’s amazing. (Vegan, Gluten-free)

Roasted Rutabaga with Apple Cider Vinegar from Food Network. This sounds so good, I can’t wait to try it on my rutabaga-loving father-in-law. (Vegan, gluten-free)

Pureed Squash and Yams with Citrus from Martha Rose Shulman in The New York Times. I made this last year, and couldn’t believe how easy, yet vibrant, it was. (Vegan, gluten-free)

Healthier Stuffing

Rustic Bread Stuffing With Dried Cranberries, Hazelnuts and Oyster Mushrooms. This might be my pick for this Thanksgiving. I will substitute olive oil for the butter, and use a rustic whole grain bread. (Vegan without the butter)

Marcus Samuelsson’s Thanksgiving Stuffing. This is truly unusual, with pumpkin, quince and…peanuts. With this much interesting stuff going on, no one will notice it’s vegan. I’d probably use a whole wheat bread here rather than white. (Vegan with a vegetable stock substitution)

Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprout and Bread Stuffing with Apples from Food52. This thing has it all. Obviously, if you make this, choose sides other than butternut squash and Brussels sprouts. (Vegan, Gluten-free with a GF bread substitution)

Gluten-Free Apple Pecan Cornbread Stuffing from Sylvana Nardone via the New York Times. I’d substitute fresh sage and thyme for the Italian seasoning, but otherwise this looks awesome. (Gluten-free)

Mashed Potatoes, Only Virtuous

Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes from Big Girls, Small Kitchen. Simply olive oil, rosemary – oh, and an entire head of garlic! (Vegan, Gluten-free)

Mashed Potatoes with Greek Yogurt from Shape.com. Tangy and lemony, these are a delicious departure from ordinary mashed potatoes. Made with nonfat Greek yogurt, of course. (Gluten-free)

Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower from Jeanette’s Healthy Living. With both garlic and Greek yogurt, this recipe is like a mash-up (pardon the pun) of the two recipes above. Using cauliflower along with potatoes cuts down the carbs quite a bit. (Gluten-free)

Less-sweet Cranberry Sauces 

Spiced Ginger, Cranberry and Pear Sauce from Pitchfork Diaries. I love, love, love this tart, complex cranberry sauce. (Vegan, gluten-free)

Spiced Cranberry Chutney with Apricots, Cherries and Pecans from Simply Healthy Family. What’s interesting about this one is that it’s sweetened only with fruit and fruit juice. (Vegan, gluten-free)

Cranberry Orange Relish from Eating Well. With only 1/4 cup of sugar, this is about the least sweetened cranberry recipe you’ll find. The ginger is a nice touch. (Vegan, gluten-free)

Hibiscus Cranberry Sauce from Love and Olive Oil. I was so excited to find this recipe, because hibiscus is one of my favorite things. Plus it’s got lime juice and very little sugar. Yippee! (Vegan, gluten-free)

Traditional Desserts Made Healthy

You Won’t Believe It’s Vegan Pumpkin Pie from Food52. Wow, this recipe looks so much better than the vegan pumpkin pie recipes with tofu. Cashews are a great idea. (Vegan)

Chocolate Tofu Pudding from Vegetarian Times. Chocolate, on Thanksgiving? Hell, yeah!  I like that this recipe includes dark chocolate rather than just cocoa powder – that gives it a nice richness. (Vegan, Gluten-free)

Cranberry Upside Down Cake from This Can’t Be Vegan. While pie is more traditional, no one’s going to turn down this delicious, fruity cake. (Vegan)

My Apple Raspberry Pie. Raspberries are an unexpected touch for Thanksgiving, but the apples hold up the traditional end. Plus, the crust is so good, no one will believe there’s no butter or shortening in it. (Vegan)

Cranberry and Pear Tart from My New Roots. I’ve already made the oat and pecan crust from this recipe, to great accolades. Next time I’ll make the whole thing (although I will find a substitute for brown rice syrup, as it has been shown to be high in arsenic.) (Vegan, Gluten-free)

Happy Thanksgiving and happy eating,
Cathy

This is my riff on J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s lovely Garbanzos con Espinacas y Jengibre over on Serious Eats. I decided to make it less tomato-centric, instead relying more on the chickpea cooking liquid. Raisins, olives, saffron, cumin, wine and double paprika took it right to the top of Flavor Mountain.

Do try and cook the chickpeas from scratch, because the cooking liquid works very well here. But in a pinch, you can use two (BPA-free) cans of chickpeas plus their liquid, and some stock or water.

I love, love, love this stew and its intense flavors. If you’re not a big fan of smokiness, or perhaps if you’re serving this to children, you can skip the smoked paprika and even the olives.

I served this on soft polenta but it would also be good alongside olive oil mashed potatoes.

Spanish Chickpea and Spinach Stew

2 large garlic cloves
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of saffron threads
2 teaspoons roughly chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes (BPA-free brand)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
½ cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
3 cups cooked chickpeas
2 cups chickpea cooking liquid
12 ounces baby spinach (or chopped spinach)
¼ cup raisins
2 tablespoons sliced Spanish green olives (optional)
Sherry vinegar and olive oil, for drizzling

Combine the first 9 ingredients (through tomatoes) in a food processor and puree.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, heavy pot. Add the onions and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until soft and lightly browned. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the pureed mixture and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add wine, chickpeas and the bean cooking liquid. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes. Add a little more liquid if it seems too thick.

Add spinach and raisins, and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Adjust salt to taste. Serve in bowls or over soft polenta, topping each serving with a generous drizzle of olive oil and a few drops of sherry vinegar.

First, sorry for not posting much lately. I keep getting emails asking if something is wrong. No worries, I’m fine – just busy to a ridiculous degree. Sometimes, life trumps food blogging.

As a result, this post will be short and sweet. I wanted to share this salad, which you should make this week while there are still good tomatoes and corn. The success of this dish depends entirely on the quality of the ingredients. The fresher the corn and tomatoes, the better it will be. So get to the farmer’s market!

I used tender baby zucchini in addition to the corn and tomatoes, but if there aren’t any good zucchini around, you could substitute cucumbers. Either way, the sherry vinegar gives this salad a nice tang without overwhelming the vegetables. It’s so delicious, I could eat the whole bowl in one sitting.

End-of-Summer Corn and Tomato Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette

Kernels from 4 medium ears corn, preferably just-picked
1 pint cherry tomatoes that have never been refrigerated, chopped
3 baby zucchini, diced small
1 handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons good-quality sherry vinegar, or a bit more to taste
Pinch salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and serve. Best served the same day, without refrigeration.

 

On a whim, I bought some kohlrabi to plant in the garden. Now, fast forward two months…uh-oh, the kohlrabi was ready to harvest. I stood there looking at this odd round vegetable with spiky stems coming out all over the place, and realized I had no idea what to do with it. My default with vegetables lately seems to be “throw it into a kale salad”, so that’s what I did today.

Turns out the combination of kale and kohlrabi is quite a nice one. The kohlrabi has a mild taste, and its crunchiness reminds me a bit of jicama. I added some toasted almonds and raisins for contrast, and a coarse mustard vinaigrette.

As you can see, I used the dark, distinctive-tasting lacinato kale, but any kind will do. You can feel free to vary the nuts and dried fruit to your liking. I’m sure pecans and cranberries would be delicious.

From the look and feel of kohlrabi, you’d think it was fairly low on the nutrition scale. However, I learned that it’s a rich source of Vitamin C, as well as B-complex vitamins and potassium. Plus it’s nearly calorie-free, at just 27 calories per cup. So this may be just the first of my kohlrabi experiments. I see a kohlrabi curry in my future….

Kale and Kohlrabi Salad

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon coarse Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, minced
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
One large bunch kale, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 medium kohlrabi, peeled and julienned (I sliced thinly with a mandolin, then cut into matchsticks)
¼ cup whole raw almonds, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
¼ cup raisins or other dried fruit

In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, mustard, shallot, salt and pepper. Gradually add the olive oil and whisk well.

Place the kale in a large bowl. Top with the dressing and massage gently with your hands for about 20 seconds. Add nuts and fruit, and serve.

Serves 4

I’m trying not to eat sweets lately. But I had tons of rhubarb in my garden…now tell me, what was I supposed to do?!

I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie last week, and it was a bit of a letdown for some reason. So this week I decided to turn to one of my favorite crust recipes for inspiration and came up with this tart. With olive oil, hazelnut meal and sugar, this crust is like a sweet shortbread cookie – and surely one of the most delicious crusts ever, vegan or not.

I used rhubarb, raspberries and blueberries because I had them on hand. But you can make this tart with most any fruit combination you like. Since the crust is nicely sweet, I didn’t add nearly as much sugar to the filling as I normally would. So it’s an inversion of the usual unsweetened crust-sweet filling approach. I just love it.

This recipe makes two medium tarts, serving four to six people each. Or do as I did and make one larger one and one small. I took the extra tart to work for my colleagues. (Yes, they would really miss me if I left!) For the best crust texture, eat the tart the same day it’s baked. If saving leftovers until the next day, just throw a paper towel over it rather than covering tightly.

Rhubarb, Raspberry & Blueberry Tart

1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup all purpose flour (or white whole wheat flour)
½ cup hazelnut meal
2/3 cup coconut palm sugar, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup hazelnut oil (or high-oleic safflower oil)
¼ cup cold water
3 cups sliced rhubarb
3 cups raspberries
1 cup blueberries
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
¼ to ½ teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger, optional
1 teaspoon raw (turbinado) or demerara sugar, for sprinkling

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the flours, hazelnut meal, 2/3 cup sugar and salt. Gradually drizzle oil on top, mixing with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Gradually add water until the dough comes together (add a little more water if necessary.) Divide into two balls and set aside.

Roll out each ball of dough directly on a rimless baking sheet, to about a 10-inch diameter.

In a medium bowl, mix the fruit, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, cornstarch lemon zest and ginger (if using). Do not let the mixture sit for long – get it into the crust immediately.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer half the fruit filling onto each crust round, leaving an inch or more of dough uncovered. Spoon  the liquid from the bottom of the bowl onto the fruit, but don’t use quite all of it – you want to moisten the filling but not to the point that a lot of juice starts running off the edge of the crust. Quickly loosen the dough all around the edge with a pastry lifter, then fold over gently with your hand. Sprinkle the dough edges with the raw sugar.

Bake for 45 minutes, until the dough is deeply golden and the filling is bubbling. Cool before serving.

I woke up craving cilantro. Strange, but true. As I planned a Sunday night barbecue for a few friends, I could only think of things that contained cilantro. After way too much deliberation, I decided to make a farro salad packed with heart-healthy beans, sweet mango and fresh corn. I pureed cilantro into a lime vinaigrette and poured it over my ingredients.

I thought this would be good, but I must say, it’s a “wow.” It’s destined to be my go-to grain salad for summer. It’s super easy to make, and the flavors really pop. If you like foods that combine sweet and tart, you’ll be a fan. And if you have a cilantro craving like I did, I promise it will be satisfied.

Notes:

Farro is Emmer wheat, a nutty tasting and distinctively chewy grain. If you can’t find it, feel free to substitute barley in this recipe. Or use quinoa for a gluten-free dish.

The salad is far superior if served the same day it’s made – preferably before any refrigeration. The flavors fade fairly quickly over time.

This recipe serves a big crowd. If you’re just feeding four or five people, halve it.

Farro Salad with Corn, Black Beans and Mango

1½ cups pearled farro (can substitute barley)
¼ teaspoon salt
2½ cups raw corn kernels (about 3 ears)
1½ cups cooked black beans
1 ripe mango, diced
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

Cilantro-lime vinaigrette:

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh lime juice
½ cup (packed) cilantro leaves (small stems ok)
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon salt

Cook the farro with salt according to the package directions, then drain off any excess liquid. Be careful not to overcook – you want the farro to be very chewy.

Cool for 15 minutes, then place it in a large bowl and add the corn, beans, mango and scallions.

In a food processor, puree the olive oil, lime juice, cumin and salt. Pour over the farro salad and stir to combine.

Serve at room temperature (preferable) or refrigerate to eat later the same day. Refrigerated salad may need some additional lime juice, so taste before serving.

Serves 8-10