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Thanksgiving – Don’t Join Them, Beat Them!

22 Nov

Isn’t Thanksgiving one of THE best days of the year?!  The sound of football and family talking, the smell of herbs roasting, and the sensation of binging on your favorite once-a-year recipes.  I adore this holiday because it brings together my family and friends over an amazingly delicious and unique meal.  Most of the dishes we serve on Thanksgiving are only served on this holiday, which makes it that much more special.  AND I love left-overs!  What holiday has left-overs like Thanksgiving?  Not one.

turkeys
I have been celebrating Thanksgiving as a vegetarian since 1997. For me it is easy and it always has been.  However, some of you fledglings out there are daunted by the prospect of sitting down with your family and not eating turkey flesh.  If your main worry is the heckling you will receive, my best advice is to beat them. I don’t mean pound them with your fists, although tempting after you hear those boring vegetarian jokes for the hundredth time.  I refer to making a better meal for yourself (and your fellow diners if they choose to pull their heads out of their…) than they have made for themselves.  Make them jealous of your fantastic concoctions!

There is not one traditional Thanksgiving recipe you can’t alter to make vegetarian.  You can even make a turkey flesh alternative with seitan if you so choose.  I have been wowing meat eaters on Thanksgiving with recipes like Walnut Apple Stuffing, Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes, Tofurky Roast in a homemade Savory Sauce and Roasted Root Vegetables, Vegetable Pot Pie, etc.  Every year I am surprised by the reactions from my meat eating co-diners when they taste a well executed vegetarian dish.  I am not surprised that they think it’s great, I am surprised by their amazement.  You would think in the year 2013 people would KNOW our food is fantastic.  *shrugs*

Below is a Thanksgiving recipe for your taste buds to discover.  Remember, don’t join them, beat them this Thanksgiving!

VEGETARIAN POT PIE

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1 tablespoon unsalted butter (or substitute vegan margarine)

2 small heads fennel, finely chopped (about 3 cups)

1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped (about 2/3 cup)

12 ounces crimini or white button mushrooms, sliced (about 5 cups)

2-3 red potatoes, diced small (about 2 1/2 cups)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup low-sodium mushroom broth

1 cup whole milk (or substitute plain soy)

1 cup frozen baby green peas

1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh chives

1/4 cup parsley

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 large egg yolk (remove from recipe if vegan)

7 ounces store-bought puff pastry or pie dough, defrosted if frozen (vegan and gluten-free options available in most health food stores)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Melt butter over medium heat in a 3 to 4 quart heavy bottomed saucepan. When it foams, add fennel, onions, and carrots, and cook until just soft and onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and potato, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring rarely, until mushrooms have let off water and are shrunken, about 6 minutes.

Sprinkle flour over vegetables, stir to coat, and cook until raw flavor is gone, about 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully add broth and milk, stirring constantly until mixture is smooth. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, add peas, herbs, and vinegar, and stir to coat. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Turn filling into an 8 by 8-inch baking dish.

Whisk egg together with 2 teaspoons water and a pinch of salt until evenly mixed. Set aside.

Cut dough to fit over the baking dish. Place dough over filling and tuck into the edges of the dish. Brush dough with egg wash and cut slits in the top to vent. Place on a baking sheet and bake until crust is golden brown and mixture is bubbling, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let sit at least 5 minutes before serving.

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