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A New Kind of Thanksgiving Dinner: Goodbye, Turkey

Thanksgiving, like many traditional holiday meals, is a little tricky for a non-turkey eater like myself.

I haven’t eaten meat for a little over five years now, so Thanksgiving dinner is difficult. I became the de-facto Thanksgiving chef in the household for all things unrelated to turkey. My dad deals with the turkey and I deal with just about everything else. Yet, there is always a little hole in my heart where that main entrée should be. I yearn for the center piece to my beautiful plate of side-dishes. However, every non-turkey eater must persevere. If the personal inspiration well has run dry, here are some meat-free, Thanksgiving entrées to give a whirl in the kitchen this year.

Stuff your vegetables!

Sweet potatoes, squash, mushrooms, whatever stuffable vegetable you like. Not only are these hearty and filling main dishes, but they take on the best Thanksgiving flavors. For an extra Thanksgiving-y kick, try a cornbread stuffing with diced veggies and herbs. These Parmesan-Stuffed Mushrooms take less than 20 minutes to make. Hasselback Butternut Squash is a delightfully autumn-themed dish that will light up every table. For an extra nutritious and filling option, try this Vegetarian Barley Stuffed Squash. Stuffing lovers en garde–Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash With Cornbread Stuffing.

Lasagna

Lasagna is one of those dishes that serves me a plate of good ‘ole, cheesy nostalgia. Family dinners are few and far between, nonetheless, for those few moments together, my family frequently dug into a dish of lasagna. Now for a fall twist, this Vegetarian Pumpkin Lasagna is the epitome of comfort. Creamy pumpkin puree steals the show as it replaces the typical tomato sauce. A wonderful thing about lasagna is the customizability. Add any of your favorite vegetables — mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, go wild.  Stovetop Mushroom Lasagna is for the traditional lasagna-lovers. Layers of crème fraîche and mushrooms make each bite rich with hearty Thanksgiving love. 

Cauliflower “Steaks”

I am a sucker for cauliflower. When I discovered that cauliflower could be more than just a side dish, I was jumping with joy. Take this Cauliflower Steak and Purée with Walnut-Caper Salsa for a Thanksgiving themed cruciferous vegetable. If you are new to the universe of all things cauliflower, do not panic! For an easy entrance to the art of cauliflower steaks, this Cauliflower Steak with Parsley and Lemon will be right up your alley. 

Pie — Not just the pumpkin kind

Step aside pumpkin pie because there is a new pie is in town, and this one is savory. This pie is hearty and adaptable to whatever your taste buds desire.  Skillet Phyllo Pie with Butternut Squash, Kale, and Goat Cheese gives serious spanakopita energy while still incorporating delicious fall squash. Jump on the opportunity to use root vegetables with a Root Vegetable Tarte Tatin. Use a mixture of carrots, potatoes, or any root veggie that you please. This tatin will certainly fulfill every craving for a truly fall meal. 

Vegetarian recipes are not one-for-all. Don’t be afraid to go off-recipe and make your dish into something for your own palette. Reducing meat consumption does not mean you are destined to a fate full of raw, unseasoned vegetables. To all of my friends who are gearing up to explore the kitchen this year, I wish you a very veggie Thanksgiving.  

I am a first year student studying political science. My two loves are cooking and being outside. I love my two pets Winnie, a chocolate lab, and Craig, a beta fish. When I am not studying in my room, you will probably find me outside playing tennis, walking, or doing yoga. I am originally from State College, PA. <3
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