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Everything but Turkey for Thanksgiving

Vegetarian Quiche for Thanksgiving!
Vegetarian Quiche for Thanksgiving!
One thing many vegetarians will have to break to their family at one point or another is that they will no longer be eating turkey on Thanksgiving. People will ask you why you can’t just eat meat on this one day. They may say that they thought you still ate chicken and turkey. They may fear that you will bring Tofurkey.

Another problem vegetarians and vegans may face when it comes to a large dinner gathering is having diverse and nutritious options. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been tempted to  just go for a 100% pie and potatoes diet, but let’s be honest…even for a holiday, that’s not the healthiest. Many pre-made options are highly processed and salty. Plus, isn’t it much more fun to mix it up a bit? Don’t you want some protein in there? Time to step it up!

Fear not, my veggie friends. I’ve gathered some of the best vegetarian and vegan recipes out there, tried and tested.

Baked Tofu (Vegetarian/Vegan)

Ready for a super simple, protein packed recipe?

It’s a pretty simple process, as detailed in this Whole Foods step by step recipe. I like to coat the tofu cubes in olive oil with a brush, and then sprinkle sugar in the raw or other seasonings. Spicy, savory, sweet, it’s up to you! The tofu comes out crunchy and golden.

Roasted Chickpeas (Vegetarian/Vegan)

The chickpea, or garbanzo, is a diverse little legume. It can be made into flour, hummus, falafel…but it’s pretty great in its bean form, too, and don’t you forget it! A friend of mine gave me the idea to roast chickpeas with some spices a few years ago, and it has been a favorite ever since. I often serve it at dinner parties, and I’m complimented on how delicious it is. The recipe is also pretty basic. As a spice, I prefer to add cumin and turmeric, maybe a kick of cayenne. Or add some sriracha after roasting them. Especially tasty with some sauteed kale on the side. And healthy!

Quiche (Vegetarian)

A quiche can be so very festive and, let’s be honest, it’s like you’re getting to jump straight into the pie portion of the meal.

My sister enjoys making a broccoli and cheddar quiche for the holidays, similar to this recipe. If you want to make it a tad easier, you can pick up a pre-made crust. Whole Foods has some great gluten free and dairy free crusts, if you prefer, and you can always make this recipe vegan with a milk and butter substitute and egg replacer. I’ve prepared this vegetarian and gluten-free and vegan, and didn’t have a problem with any of the variations!

Festive Quinoa (Vegan)

Quinoa is nutritious, and this recipe is flavorful and festive.

We served this last year and I enjoyed it quite a bit. For added flair, we added cranberries with orange essence. Quite filling!

Zucchini Boats (Vegetarian/Vegan)

It’s a combination of boats and zucchini. What more could you ask for?

I follow a recipe similar to this one, but honestly, I use whatever floats my boat. Pun intended.

Brown rice, couscous, some beans, grape tomatoes, it’s all fair game! Scoop out the zucchini filling (aside from the seeds) and mix with your filling of choice. Fill the boats with the cooked mixture, and bake! Sprinkle cheese/vegan cheese of your choosing. Once again, I also like to just spot with sriracha. You’re ready to sail!

Sweet Potato & Black Beans (Vegetarian/Vegan)

I initially made a recipe similar to this one as a vegan burrito a few years back, omitting the cheese in lieu of avocado. However, this recipe also works great without wrapping everything burrito style. Sweet potatoes and black beans are an absolute winning combination!

Polenta with Eggplant (Vegetarian/Vegan)

My friend gave me a recipe book that has a recipe like this one in it, and it has become one of my favorites. I admit that I cheat and buy the Trader Joe’s polenta. I tend to omit the cheese on this as well.

Fellow vegetarians and vegans, what has been your Thanksgiving plight? Do you have any favorite meals for this time of year?

One thing I love about Thanksgiving is sharing all of the food, and the fortune of being able to try so many recipes. I’m thankful that I have these options. I also believe that everyone’s body is different, and just because a diet works for you does not mean that it is for everyone. While I am a vegetarian for ethical reasons, I initially stopped eating meat because I simply don’t enjoy eating it. However, I think it is nice to keep in mind that not everyone who is sharing your Thanksgiving with you will share these views, and they should be able to eat in peace. I have many friends and family who have diets based on personal beliefs and/or health restrictions, and Thanksgiving should be a time of sharing and giving, not judging. I think it is important to remember this because I am often asked if I am angry at others for eating meat, and I don’t think that is a kind way to approach what is said to be a kind diet.

I hope you all have a great holiday, and I would love to hear your recipe ideas!

Appetizers Entree/Dinner Featured Recipes Meals

Eggplant & Goat Cheese Crepes

Oven-Baked Crepes with Cardamom Scented Eggplant and Goat Cheese from Paul O’Connell, chef and owner of Chez Henri on Shepard Street in Cambridge.


  • 5 lbs. eggplant
  • 1 cup virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp. cardamom powder
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup scallion, minced
  • 1 cup goat cheese (room temperature)
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 ea. egg yolks
  • ¼ cup fine herbs
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 6 cup Swiss Chard, chiffonade
  • 6 ea. crepes
  • 4 cups tomato-basil coulis
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cooking instructions:

  1. Place the eggplant on a cookie sheet. Puncture each eggplant a few times with the tip of a small knife.
  2. Place the eggplants in a 350° F oven and roast for 40 minutes, or until the eggplants have collapsed and are completely cooked. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Heat ¼ cup of the olive oil in a sauté pan and add the onions. Cook over medium heat, tossing frequently.
  4. When the onions begin to soften, add the cardamom, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 5 more minutes and remove from heat.
  5. Split open the cooked eggplants and scoop out the pulp. Place the pulp along with the cooked onions into a food processor.
  6. Begin pureeing and drizzle in the lemon juice and ½ cup of virgin oil. When the mixture is smooth, add the cilantro and scallion and pulse once or twice. Remove to a stainless bowl.
  7. Place the Goat cheese, ricotta, and egg yolks in the food processor bowl and pulse.
  8. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. When the cheeses and egg are mixed well, remove to a stainless bowl and fold in the fine herbs, lemon zest and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat, add ¼ cup of virgin oil and place the swiss chard in the pan. Cook until the swiss chard is wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan to a colander to drain and cool.
  10. At one end of the crepe, place some swiss in a cigar shape and 1 oz. of the cheese mixture and 1 oz. of the eggplant mixture. Roll the crepe into a tube shape. Repeat this until all of your crepes are rolled.
  11. Place the tomato coulis in a large ovenproof casserole. Arrange the crepes over the coulis. Sprinkle with parmesan and bake at 350° F for 30 minutes.
  12. Serve with a green salad. This dish serves six.
Entree/Dinner Featured Recipes Healthy Options Meals

Vegetarian Paella

Brehon Garcia-Dale has transformed the Food & Wine Program at the Boston Center for Adult Education. Since assuming her current position a year ago, the classes, with a consistent and steady explosion in popularity, have been taught by a veritable who’s who in the Boston restaurant scene and a steady group of professional culinary educators. Some chefs who have particpated are; Gordon Hamersley of Hamersley’s Bistro, Rebecca Newell of The Beehive, Brian Poe of Poe’s Kitchen at The Rattlesnake, and Thomas Frost from Fairmont Hotels.

Brehon learned this recipe from Chef Instructor Diane Manteca during the “International Vegetarian Cuisine” course at the BCAE. The dish serves six people.


  • 1 block tofu, marinated in 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. thyme, 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 pound soy based sausage (smoky flavor if possible)
  • 2 cups dry rice (long grain – uncle ben’s is best)
  • 8 plum tomatoes, diced in about 1/8″ pieces
  • 2 small yellow onions, diced small
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced fine
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron
  • 1 tsp. dry thyme
  • 1 tb kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • a few pinches of cayenne pepper

Cooking Instructions

  1. In a large pot add the olive oil and put heat on high.
  2. Add onions and sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook on high for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes. Do not allow the tomatoes to overcook and lose their shape.
  5. Add the sausage, stir and cook another minute.
  6. Add the rice, wine, vegetable stock, tofu, bay leaves, cayenne, and bring to a boil.
  7. Lower the heat and cover, allowing the mixture to simmer for 15 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed.
  8. Add the peas .
  9. Season the dish to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh parsley.