Cauliflower Pot Pie with Black Olive Biscuit Crust

Cauliflower Pot Pie with Black Olive Biscuit Crust (Image by Kate Lewis)

If you have a copy of Veganomicon resting somewhere, hopefully, this following little list will be of service. I’m incredibly grateful this year I’m attending a significant (30 or more) gathering of vegans that should be well appointed in the exclusively vegan eats department. But I’m not much of an advanced planner when it comes to holiday meals. Yesterday afternoon decided on making a mega batch of chickpea cutlets (old school), stuffing, gravy, and probably a great big apple pandowdy (that’s effectively a smashed apple pie) to rule them all.

But, I have a mix of feelings when it comes to Thanksgiving; with its mythical origins steeped in colonialism and the glorification of turkey slaughter, I’m not a fan. It can also be a rough time for folks struggling with the unrealistic ideals around family, food, and community that feel overwhelming this time of year.

Yet many vegans and non-vegans too are hungry to explore meatless options for the holidays. For a decade Veganomicon has supplied countless with Thanksgiving spirited recipes, so here is my non-exhaustive list of suggestions for a recipe or two to build the meal around, or bring to a potluck, or wrap up and rest on your lap as you take an early morning Greyhound for food with friends or family in some far off place.

If you’re in charge of cooking (or at least organizing) an entirely vegan Thanksgiving spread last minute (I’m jealous, really!), you may already have an excellent grab bag of recipes from many sources: favorite cookbooks, magazine clippings, or homemade vegan adaptations of traditional favorites. Or more likely, you’re bringing the vegan main dish option to an evening hosted elsewhere; hence this list skips over the appetizers and soups (I think once in my life I saw soup at a Thanksgiving) and focuses on the major players: sides, casseroles and pies and of course, some dessert.

Yes, salad at the Thanksgiving table! Yes, I’ve been very salad-centric the past few years; it’s a much-needed rest stop between servings of heavy starches.

  • Kale Tahini Caesar Salad (page 101); a hearty kale salad that will hold it’s own on a plate teetering with mashed potatoes and seitan roast.
  • Fennel & Hazelnut Salad (page 112); crisp, refreshing fennel and bitter greens with lots of toasted hazelnuts, just tell your kids it’s a Nutella salad (always works right?)

Veggie Sides and Gravy and Chickpea Cutlets

Sometimes this meal really about the sides, and sometimes everything is about the cutlets.

  • Rutabaga Puree (page 159); transform a bowling ball of a root vegetable into a silky puree and the mash potatoes will give this side dish the side eye with envy.
  • Roasted Cauliflower with Mint and Toasted Almonds (page 163); roasted cauliflower is sweet and gets fresh with a little mint. Or make the raw salad option for extra crunch.
  • Chickpea Cutlets (page 206); the chewy, hearty bean and wheat gluten patties with a hint of sage are an enduring cult hit, and they effortlessly work with cranberry sauce and gravy. They also play well served up alongside that Tofurkey or whatever seitan-yuba-tofu-cashew-aquafaba roast creation you’re fiddling with this year.
  • Mushroom Gravy (page 322); maybe you have your gravy situation all figured out. Or maybe you don’t, here’s an easy one for you.
  • Skillet Cornbread (page 341); old reliable when it comes to comforting cornbread goodness. Make the double corn for Thanksgiving, perhaps with a flourish of thinly sliced scallions or finely chopped red onion in for good measure.

Hearty Casseroles and Savory Pot Pies

The main attraction for all the right reasons. I’ve had many years of being the sole vegan at holidays and bringing along one or a few of these. And pies and casseroles are still a welcome addition if you are also slinging a Field Roast or Tofurky (or any of the fantastic turkey substitutes around now) or carving a turkey-shaped roast out of tofu.

  • Caramelized Onion-Butternut Casserole (page 241); is sweet, succulent, breadcrumb-topped autumn in a baking dish.
  • Almost All American Seitan Pot Pie (page 250); need a big savory pastry-crust topped pot pie to complete your table, then look no more. Go for the parsnip addition or try it with celeriac too.
  • Cauliflower & Mushroom Potpie (page 253); a veggie-loaded one pot wonder topped with a fluffy biscuit crust dotted with black olives. Beautiful when baked in an enameled cast iron pot!
  • Eggplant Moussaka (page 256); Greek flair with a lovely strata casserole of eggplant, zucchini, and potato with a tomato sauce with just a hint of cinnamon; the bright Mediterranean flavors are just what a beige and brown dinner spread needs about now.
  • Kasha Phyllo Pie (page 258); flakey phyllo on the outside, hearty and rustic buckwheat and sauerkraut on the inside. Think of it as a family-sized knish on a Mediterranean vacation.
  • Tempeh Shepherdess Pie (page 259); the perfect marriage of a mashed potato crust and savory veggies and tempeh are great all winter long but feel right at home on Thanksgiving, so do it!
  • Leek & Bean Cassoulet (page 265); stew and then bake this pretty leek veggie stew topped with hand-shaped round biscuits loaded with harvest flavors. Make sure to make a biscuit for everyone!

There shall be desserts on Thanksgiving, and there shall be many of them. Make one or make them all, these are generously sized cake and pies that supply necessary vegan dessert calories after an intense workout of eating casseroles all day.

  • Pumpkin Crumb Cake (page 401); a sheet of fragrant pumpkin cake topped with a nutty crumble topping is what 5-year-old pumpkin-pie hating me would have run to with open arms and mouth.
  • Smlove Pie (page 405); caramel, chocolate, pecans. Go against the tyranny of pumpkin spice and bring on what every kid really wants.
  • Apple-Peanut Butter Caramel Bars (page 371); ooohhheee gooey bar cookies if you don’t feel like a pie (you’ve been eating a lot of pie today) with fall vibes (caramel + apples) with what we want all year round: peanut butter.

But if you want pumpkin pie, and need and Isa and Terry style pumpkin pie, you’ll have to look through our recipe-packed homage to pie: Vegan Pie in the Sky. I promise it’s worth it. With plenty of great winter pies (apple, pecan, pear, and so many cheesecakes) it will keep you busy baking the next few chilly months.