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A Vegan Thanksgiving: 12 Recipes That Could Change Your Holiday

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At the time of year seemingly dedicated to stuffing something... ourselves, a turkey, a pie crust, we will all be gathering around tables laden with foods of the season... and agonizing over what to feed the vegetarian coming to dinner.

This feast could easily help to create new holiday traditions for the whole family... traditions of healthy, compassionate eating. Imagine indulgence with less guilt! Mix and match dishes to fit with your own feast, but I can tell you this...with these yummy choices on the table, no one will miss the bird!

Golden Sweet Potato Biscuits
1 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup semolina or quinoa flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
generous pinch sea salt
generous pinch ground cinnamon
3-4 tablespoons avocado oil
1/3 cup unsweetened apple juice
1 cup, smoothly mashed, cooked sweet potato*
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 375o and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine flours, baking powder and soda, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and whisk briskly. Cut in oil with a fork or pastry cutter to form the texture of wet sand. Add the apple juice, sweet potato and rice syrup, mixing to form a soft dough. Fold in pecans, working to incorporate them into the dough.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead in just enough flour so the dough loses its stickiness. With floured hands, press the dough into a 2/3-inch thick rectangle. Using a glass or cookie cutter, cut the dough into 16 biscuits, re-forming dough as needed to use it all. (Note: when cutting the biscuits, do not turn the cutter, simply press straight down into the dough. Turning will remove air from the biscuits, leaving them heavy). Arrange cut biscuits on lined sheet about an inch apart. Bake 15-18 minutes or until the biscuits puff slightly and they spring back to the touch (or a toothpick inserted comes out clean).

Transfer to a serving plate and serve hot. Makes about 16 biscuits.
*You can also use canned pumpkin for these to save time.

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
sea salt
2-3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, diced
6-8 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup until tender, thinly sliced (soaking water reserved
10-12 ounces button mushrooms, brushed free of dirt, thinly sliced
¼ cup mirin or white wine
4 cups unsweetened almond milk
3 teaspoons sweet white miso
2-3 sprigs fresh parsley, finely minced

Place a small amount of oil, garlic and onion in a soup pot and turn heat to medium. When the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Stir in potatoes, a pinch of salt and sauté for 2 minutes more. Stir in shiitake and button mushrooms, a pinch of salt and sauté for 1 minute more. Add shiitake soaking water, mirin and almond milk, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until mushrooms are quite tender, about 25 minutes. Remove a small amount of hot broth and dissolve miso. Stir back into soup and cook over very low heat, uncovered, for 3-4 minutes to activate the enzymes in the miso. Serve garnished with fresh parsley. Makes 4-5 servings.

Stuffed Winter Squash

1 large winter squash-buttercup, hokkaido, hubbard work best
spring or filtered water
avocado oil

To begin, remove the top of the squash, jack-o-lantern style, so that you can scoop out the seeds and pulp. Replace the top and lightly oil the outer skin. Place in a baking dish with about 1/2-inch water.

Bake at 325o, uncovered for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool while preparing the stuffing.

Sourdough Stuffing

1 large sourdough loaf, crusts removed and cubed
1 teaspoon avocado or olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cups diced celery
1 cup button mushrooms, brushed clean and diced
1 cup tempeh, or seitan, cubed and pan-fried until golden
1/2 cups pine nuts, lightly pan-toasted (optional)
soy sauce
fresh grated ginger juice (optional)
small handful flat leaf parsley-minced
spring or filtered water

Preheat oven to 300o and arrange bread cubes on a baking sheet. Bake until bread dries slightly.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet and saute garlic and onion for 2-3 minutes. Add celery and mushrooms and saute until tender, about 7 minutes. Combine bread cubes, sauteed vegetables, fried tempeh, pine nuts, soy sauce and ginger juice to taste and parsley. Slowly add water, while mixing until a soft stuffing forms. Allow to cool completely.

To stuff squash, pack filling firmly into the opening, until firmly stuffed. Replace the squash top and place in a baking dish with a small amount of water to tenderize the squash. Raise oven temperature to 350o, cover and bake until squash pierces easily with a fork.

The exact baking time will vary, depending on the size of the squash, anywhere from 1-3 hours. (Note that any filling that doesn't fit in the squash can be baked separately in a casserole for about 35 minutes.)

Rice Pilaf

1 teaspoon avocado or olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 cup button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1 carrot, diced
small handful slivered almonds
small handful dried cranberries, unsweetened
1 cup long grain or basmati brown rice
1/4 cup wild rice
sea salt
3 cups spring or filtered water

In a deep, heavy pot, heat the oil. Saute the onion with a pinch of salt until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add the almonds and cranberries and saute until well-coated with oil. Stir in the balance of veggies and saute with a pinch of salt for 1-2 minutes more. Spread the vegetables evenly over the bottom of the pot and top with the rices. Gently add the water and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is fluffy. Remove from heat and allow to stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir well and remove to a serving bowl. Garnish with fresh parsley sprigs.

Artichoke Salad with Greens and Figs

Extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thin half moon slices
sea salt
8-10 marinated artichoke hearts, split in half lengthwise
1 red pepper, roasted over an open flame, peeled, seeded, sliced into thin ribbons
dressing
juice of 2 limes
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons brown rice syrup
generous pinch black pepper
2 bunches watercress, stem tips trimmed, left whole
8-10 fresh figs, split lengthwise
2-3 fresh scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Place a small amount of oil, garlic and onion in a skillet and turn heat to medium. When the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in artichoke hearts and red pepper ribbons and sauté just until heated through, about 2 minutes more.

Prepare the dressing by whisking together lime juice, oil, vinegar and rice syrup, adjusting seasonings to taste.

To plate the dressing, arrange watercress on a platter, with figs around the rim. Spoon sautéed artichoke heart mixture over the top and drizzle lightly with dressing, serving the balance of the dressing on the side for those who want to use more. Sprinkle with scallions and serve immediately after dressing. Makes 5-6 servings.

Note: If fresh figs are not available, use dried figs, but soak them.

Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, tips trimmed, crosses cut into the bottoms of each
2 red onions, thick wedges
2-3 sweet potatoes, split lengthwise, ½-inch thick half moons
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
grated zest of 2 lemons
½ cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons maple syrup
juice of one half lemon
2-3 sprigs fresh parsley, finely minced

Preheat oven to 350o.

Place all the vegetables in a mixing bowl and add oil, a generous sprinkling of salt, lemon zest, wine and syrup. Mix well to coat. Arrange vegetables in a large baking dish, avoiding overlap. Cover with foil and bake until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove cover and continue baking until vegetables are browned and liquid has turned to a syrup, 10-15 minutes more. Remove from heat and squeeze lemon juice over top. Sprinkle with parsley and toss gently to coat. Serve hot. Makes 6-8 servings.

Creole-Style Hummus with Pita Chips

2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed well
½ cup avocado oil
½ cup sesame tahini
juice of 1 fresh lemon
1 teaspoon brown rice syrup
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon ground ginger
sea salt
Pita chips
4 whole wheat pita breads
Avocado oil
paprika

Place all ingredients, except salt in a food processor and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt; adjust seasoning to taste and puree, slowly adding water to achieve a creamy consistency.

To make the pita chips, preheat oven to 375o and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice pita bread into 8 triangular wedges and arrange on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with paprika. Bake until crisp, 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a basket.

Transfer to a serving bowl, with pita chips on the side. Makes 3-4 cups of hummus.

Roasted Root Vegetables

1 pound Brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed
2-3 red onions, large chunks
1 small-medium winter squash, large chunks, seeded, do not peel
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 375o.

Place vegetables in a mixing bowl and stir in oil, salt and pepper to taste and vinegar to coat. Spread on a baking sheet (with a rim) or a large baking pan to avoid overlap. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15-25 minutes to brown the edges of the veggies. Makes 8-9 servings.

Fig and Walnut Tapenade on Daikon Rounds

1 cup minced, stemmed, dried figs
1/3 cup spring or filtered water
½ cup coarsely chopped oil-cured black olives
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
½ tablespoon capers, drained, but not rinsed, minced
1 ½ teaspoons minced, fresh parsley
sea salt
½ cup walnut pieces, lightly pan toasted
20-30 1/4-inch thick daikon rounds

To prepare the tapenade, combine figs and water in a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, until the figs are soft and the water has dissipated, 7-10 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in olives, vinegar, capers and parsley. Season to taste with salt (remembering that the olives and capers will flavor with salt). Mix well to combine. Set aside.

Pan toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook daikon rounds until crisp-tender, 4-6 minutes. Drain and arrange on a platter. Cover and chill completely.

To serve, arrange daikon rounds around the rim of a platter. Just before serving, fold walnuts into tapenade and mound in the center of the platter, allowing guests to serve themselves. Makes 10-15 servings.

Note: The tapenade can be made a couple of days in advance of the party, but do not stir in the nuts until serving time, as they will get soft. The daikon can be cooked the morning of the party. You may also choose to serve the tapenade already mounded on the cooked daikon for a more elegant presentation.

Mincemeat-less Pie

1 cup raisins
1 cup dried apricots
3 cups apple juice
pinch sea salt
4 cups tart apples, cored and cut into small chunks
2 tablespoons red miso
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons kuzu or arrowroot, dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water or juice
2 tablespoons fresh grated orange peel
1 tablespoon fresh grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 cup walnuts-pan toasted and broken into small pieces
1 recipe pie crust (see Streusel Topped Pumpkin Pie recipe)

Soak the raisins and apricots together in the apple juice for 6-8 hours. In an uncovered pot, place the soaked fruit, the soaking water, salt and apple pieces. Cook over medium heat for 1 hour. Remove a bit of hot juice and dissolve the miso. Stir into the pot and simmer for 15 minutes more. Mix the spices in very well and then stir in dissolved kuzu until the mixture thickens. Finally, stir in the orange and lemon peel, the orange juice and the walnuts. Set aside to cool as you prepare the pie crust. Makes 1 pie, about 10 servings.

When making this pie, I like to prepare it as a single crust pie, but you may also prepare double the recipe and make a lattice top. One other thing, this recipe makes really beautiful miniature tartlets, as well as a full-sized pie.

Streusel Topped Pumpkin Pie

2 ½ cups pureed pumpkin (cooked fresh or unsweetened canned pumpkin)
pinch sea salt
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup brown rice syrup
generous pinch ground cinnamon
scant pinch allspice
3 tablespoons agar flakes
3 tablespoons arrowroot, dissolved in small amount cold water
pie crust
1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
pinch sea salt
¼ cup avocado oil
spring or filtered water
streusel topping
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
pinch sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup finely chopped pecans or almonds
2 tablespoons avocado oil
3-4 tablespoons brown rice syrup

Preheat oven to 350o and lightly oil a deep-dish glass pie plate.

Place all filling ingredients, except kuzu, in a saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, whisking frequently, until agar is dissolved, about 20 minutes. When the agar is dissolved, whisk in arrowroot mixture and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

Make the crust by combining flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in oil with a fork or pastry cutter to create the texture of wet sand. Slowly add water, mixing until dough gathers into a cohesive ball. Roll out between 2 sheets of parchment, creating a thin round that is about an inch larger than the pie plate. Transfer piecrust to pie plate and fit into crevices without stretching, allowing excess to hang over the edges. Fold excess crust up over the rim and using your fingers, crimp into a decorative edge. Pierce in several places with a fork and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.

Spoon filling evenly into crust and set aside.

Make the streusel by combining flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a mixing bowl. Fold in pecans, oil and rice syrup and mix until a crumbly mixture forms. Sprinkle generously over the pumpkin filling, covering completely.

Place the pie on a baking sheet and cover loosely with foil. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove cover and bake for another 30-35 minutes, until the edges of the filling are set and the topping is browned and crunchy. Transfer pie to a cooling rack and allow to stand for 15-30 minutes before slicing. Makes 8-10 servings.

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Raspberry Coulis

1 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup semolina flour
Pinch sea salt
Generous pinch ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup cocoa powder
½ cup ground hazelnuts*
1/3 cup olive or avocado oil
1 cup brown rice syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vinegar (apple cider or white)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
4 ounces silken tofu
Raspberry Coulis
2 cups frozen raspberries, thawed
½ cup brown rice syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Fresh raspberries, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350o and lightly oil a spring form pan.
Whisk together all dry ingredients. In a food processor, puree oil, brown rice syrup, vanilla, vanilla, vinegar, almond milk and tofu until smooth. Mix together with dry ingredients to form a smooth batter, slowly adding more almond milk if needed.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes before releasing from the pan.

While the cake bakes, prepare the coulis. Cook raspberries and sweetener in a sauce pan until it thickens, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. If desired, press mixture through a fine strainer. Stir in lemon juice and serve. (Note: I love coulis a bit more coarse, so I rarely strain it.)

To serve, pool coulis on a plate and lay a sliver of torte on top. Garnish with fresh berries. Makes 10-12
servings.

*To roast hazelnuts, place them in a 350o oven for 20 minutes. Transfer to a towel and allow the skins to steam for 15 minutes. Rub the nuts in the towel to remove the skins and transfer nuts to a food processor and pulse to form a fine meal.