Last November, I invited family over to my place to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. It was the first time I was the host, preparing the main course, sides, drinks, and desserts! It was much more time consuming than expected, but I enjoyed learning new recipes, and felt the satisfaction at the end of the day that it was indeed possible to host a Thanksgiving dinner on my own.
This year, I am considering inviting family over once again, but with a twist! My husband and I have been eating much less dairy and meat recently, and I have been thinking about all the wonderful vegan sides I could showcase (while still having the traditional turkey, that is.) I realized that even the usual vegetable sides like mashed potatoes and green beans are drenched in butter, milk, and heavy cream. It is no wonder we are completely stuffed at the end of the day!
One of the recipes I made last year was a winner, and I would definitely recommend it! It is a rice stuffing with cranberries and slivered almonds, which could easily be made vegetarian by choosing a vegetable stock instead of a meat stock. The added mushrooms and herbs give it a hearty bite that everyone loved. Plus, it is made in a crockpot, which means you can do the prep work in the morning and move on to other things.
Here is the recipe: https://www.wellplated.com/crock-pot-stuffing/. My suggestion is to use a bag of the Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Medley for the rice blend. The black barley and daikon radish seeds in the blend add such an intriguing flare to the dish.
Another recipe I am considering this year is a soup starter starring kohlrabi or butternut squash, either of which would contribute to the homey and earthy feel of Thanksgiving. If you are looking for something more indulgent, I would suggest the butternut squash soup. If you are looking for something as a simple meal starter, try the kohlrabi soup.
Here is a kohlrabi soup recipe I have tried and would recommend. The hot pepper flakes add a surprising yet subtle kick, and the russet potato adds a natural thickness.
For a special drink, last year I made virgin apple cider sangria with seasonal fruit and whole cinnamon sticks. I wasn’t sure how it would taste or turn out, but I fell in love! Just add a non-alcoholic red wine, apple cider, and sparkling water to taste in a punch bowl. Add three or four cinnamon sticks and your mix of fruit. I chose a crispy Asian pear, persimmon, and whole pomegranate seeds!
For dessert, I don’t mind ending with a high calorie show stopper. Thanksgiving would be the perfect opportunity for me to try out this Chocolate Peanut Butter Vegan Raw Cheesecake, as it is rich and made to share. The best part is that you can make it the day before, which means less to do the day of. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La346sqwdPU
Pro tip for leftovers: Last year, when deciding what to do with our leftovers, we came up with the idea of individually packaging meal portions to put in the freezer. We took small freezer bags and put a little bit of everything inside. I was not sure how it would work out, putting mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, Brussels sprouts, stuffing, and turkey all together in one bag, but it was perfect. Even a month or two later, I had a frozen Thanksgiving meal ready to take with me to work. All I had to do was put it on a plate and microwave until warm. It was so satisfying, and brought back the memories of the meal we shared together.