Here at The Tasteful Pantry, we love Thanksgiving. More specifically, we love Thanksgiving feasts. There is something about the combination of Autumn and the colors, smells and flavors of a Thanksgiving feast that make it so comforting and homey. But sometimes you need a change from the yearly turkey. And if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, then many of the typical Thanksgiving dishes are out of the question for you. But not to worry, there are many amazing plant-based Thanksgiving recipes out there that are delicious, satisfying, and perfect for sharing around the table.
Every year, Cafe Gratitude, one of LA’s top vegan restaurants, hosts a free Thanksgiving lunch. It is a beautiful and joyful meal and community members even pitch in to help with table service. Last year my friend and executive chef Dreux Ellis created a delicious Thanksgiving casserole that opened my eyes to the possibility of a Thanksgiving main dish that wasn’t turkey. It was so hearty and filling that I didn’t even miss the meat!
Inspired by that meal, this year I’ve decided to look into other vegan alternatives to turkey and found this amazing recipe on Oh She Glows. It includes a long list of ingredients and a few different steps, but they’re pretty simple steps. Plus you can prepare it ahead of time and just do the final baking an hour before your guests arrive. The nutritional value of this meal is pretty awesome – it’s got protein, fiber, healthy fats, and of course the vitamins & minerals from the veggies, nuts and seeds. Plus it’s a lot less likely to leave you feeling overly stuffed and bloated afterwards! What do you think? Up for trying something different this year?
Ingredients (makes 8 thick slices):
1 cup dry green lentils
3 cups vegetable broth
4 tbsp ground flax seed
1/2 cup warm water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup sweet onion, diced
1 celery stalk, chopped finely
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup gluten-free oat flour (you can also ground oats into a flour)
3/4 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs (store-bought, or process 2-3 slices of lightly toasted GF bread in the food processor until small breadcrumbs are left)
3/4 cup grated sweet potato
1 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
Pinch of garlic powder
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp apple butter
1) Cook green lentils: Pour your veggie stock into a a medium sized pot. Rinse lentils and pick over being sure to remove any small pebbles that may be in the mix. Add lentils, bring to boil, and reduce heat to low and simmer until liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender (about 40 minutes). Be sure to stir the lentils frequently so they do not stick to the bottom of the pot. Once the lentils are cooked, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
2) Preheat oven to 350 F and line a loaf pan with parchment so that parchment paper hangs over the edges by 2 inches.
3) Walnuts: Toast 3/4 cup of walnuts at 350F for about 6 minutes and then set aside to cool.
4) Prepare flaxseeds: Mix 3 tbsp of ground flax (set the remaining 1 tbsp aside for later) with 1/2 cup warm water and stir well. Set aside for at least 5-10 minutes so it can gel up.
5) Prepare vegetable mixture: In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté onion, minced garlic and celery in the olive oil for about 5 minutes on low-medium heat, being careful not to burn. After the onions are tender, add grated sweet potato, raisins, and chopped walnuts and sauté another minute or two. Add thyme, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt & pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
6) Once the lentils are cooled, take 75% of the lentils and process in the food processor until mostly smooth (some small lentils will remain!). Scoop processed lentils into a large bowl. Add in the remaining 25% of non-processed lentils and place into bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, flaxseed mixture, veggie mixture, oat flour, and remaining 1 tbsp ground flax seed. Stir well with a spoon and then remove the spoon and mix well with your hands, pressing it through your fingers. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
7) Pour the mixture into your loaf pan and spread out with a spoon. Press the mixture firmly with and evenly into the pan with your hands.
8) Preparing the glaze: In small bowl combine all glaze ingredients. Spread evenly over loaf and bake, uncovered 45 minutes at 350F.
9) Cool for about 10-15 minutes and serve. Serves about 8 thick slices.