Adventures in flora, fauna, food, and the great unknown.

Vegan/vegetarian harvest festival a la Doyle

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Happily, the non-Thanksgiving feast was a success—although I admittedly made way too much food (in particular the squash; I could have made half, and we still would have had enough leftovers to satisfy). Most of it is long gone now, but I did freeze a good portion of the cranberry sauce, which we’ll surely enjoy against soon. Weirdly enough, I’m thinking cranberry sauce + latkes. Yum.

Everything set out on the table (it almost looks like we're real adults, doesn't it?). This isn't all of the food I made, but it does show a sampling of each dish.

Everything set out on the table (it almost looks like we’re real adults, doesn’t it?). This isn’t all of the food I made, but it does show a sampling of each dish.

The first course was dilly stew with rosemary dumplings, a vegan dish taken from Post Punk Kitchen. We both absolutely loved this, and I’ll definitely be making it again. (Pro tip: When you’re reheating it as leftovers, definitely add some water to thin out the stew.)

The first course: Dilly stew with rosemary dumplings.

The first course: Dilly stew with rosemary dumplings.

For the main/feature dishes (in lieu of turkey, I felt the need to have some sort of focal point), I made  roasted butternut squash with quinoa salad, modifying a recipe for delicata squash with quinoa salad. The squash substitution was only because I could not find delicata anywhere—which is a shame, because it’s delicious, and it would have done really well with this dish. I also subbed in cider vinegar for the sherry vinegar, which worked okay, but in retrospect I should have used a bit less (or just gone with the sherry, which I didn’t feel like buying).

The second feature dish was a spinach and sweet potato gratin, based on the swiss chard and sweet potato gratin recipe from Smitten Kitchen. The only substitution here was spinach; frankly, I was just trying to reduce the workload, given how many different dishes I was preparing. In any case, this was absolutely delicious, and I can’t wait to have it again. (Luckily, I bought far too many sweet potatoes.)

"Main" dishes: roasted butternut squash with quinoa salad and spinach and sweet potato gratin.

“Main” dishes: roasted butternut squash with quinoa salad and spinach and sweet potato gratin.

And now for the sides—generally speaking, the best part of any Thanksgiving feast. Cranberry sauce is one of my favorites, and for a vegan version, I used Alicia Silverstone’s recipe for quick and easy cranberry sauce. This picture is a bit out of focus, but trust me when I say that it was delightfully tart and delicious.

Cranberry sauce!

Cranberry sauce!

As a kid, I didn’t really like mushrooms unless they were raw. Luckily, I’m finally growing out of that a bit, and it just didn’t seem like Thanksgiving without something gravy-like. However, since there wasn’t anything for gravy to go on in this particular meal, I took a recipe for mushroom gravy (from Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet) and thickened it up, turning it into mushrooms in a sauce. Extremely simple, yet still extremely tasty.

Mushrooms in a sauce.

Mushrooms in a sauce.

Thanksgiving tends to be filled with orange and lacking in green, in my experience (the common green-bean casserole aside), so in addition to the spinach in the gratin and the arugula in the quinoa salad, I wanted to add something else. Cue the brussels sprouts! (And, of course, more cranberries. This is Massachusetts, after all.) This recipe came from Everything Vegan, a book that a friend gifted to us recently. I haven’t yet mastered the art of perfectly cooking brussels sprouts, but I’d still call this one a success. Besides, who doesn’t love toasted walnuts?

Brussels sprouts with walnuts and dried cranberries.

Brussels sprouts with walnuts and dried cranberries.

When all was said and done, about 8 hours of cooking (including prep.) went into this meal, but it was well worth it. I made the cranberry sauce ahead of time, froze it, and then unfroze it again after we returned from visiting family. The brussels sprouts and mushrooms were made the day before the meal, and the gratin was prepped the night before. That left just cooking the gratin, and making the stew and stuffed squash for the day of, which was still a fair bit of work, but manageable.

An appropriately colorful meal, don't you think?

An appropriately colorful meal, don’t you think?

Since we’ll be spending our first married Christmas at home together, the success of this meal has inspired another (somewhat) elaborate meal plan for Christmas day. It won’t be quite this intense, and most of what I’ll be making for that is stuff I’ve cooked before (unlike this meal, where everything was a first), but I’m still extremely excited for what’s to come.


Author: JD Doyle

Bookbinder, knitter, spinner, singer, runner, vegetarian, & sometime poet.

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