Thanksgiving | Salad & Entree

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.
W.J Cameron

Like I promised, next up, Thanksgiving Day main course:

After over indulging in appetizers, we dove head first into many more delicious dishes.

Pistachio-Pomegranate Salad
{an adapted recipe from Rachel Ray}
1 1/2 c apple cider
1 c shelled pistachios
1 T plus 1 1/2 t packed brown sugar
2 shallots, sliced
3 T red wine vinegar
2 t dijon mustard
coarse sea salt
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
1 head chopped butter lettuce
4 c packed arugula
1 c pomegranate seeds

1. In a large saucepan, boil the apple cider over high heat until reduced to 1/3 c, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

{Don't judge my pans that desperately need a visit from Bar Keepers Friend}

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, toast the pistachios over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with brown sugar; stir to coat. Transfer to a piece of parchment and let cool.

3. In a food processor, mix the reduced cider, shallots, vinegar, mustard and 1/2 t. salt. With the the processor running, slowly pour the extra virgin olive oil; process until combined.

4. In a large bowl, toss the greens with dressing to taste and topping with the pomegranate seeds and candied pistachios. Any remaining dressing can be kept in the refrigerator. Serve immediately.

{coming soon, a tutorial on how to seed a pomegranate}

Brussels Sprouts with Lemon
extra virgin olive oil
15 large brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half
juice from one lemon, freshly squeezed
sea salt, to taste

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sprouts, cut side down and allow to brown, approximately 5 minutes.

2. Once they have a nice brown-golden color, stir and add in lemon juice.

3. Cover the skillet to allow the brussels sprouts to steam. Steam until the sprouts are softened, but not too soft. They're best enjoyed with still a little fresh crunch. Season with salt and serve.

This recipe is fool-proof for changing the mind of any brussels sprouts hater out there — this is the truth!

Acorn Squash with Wild Mushroom Cranberry Stuffing
{an adapted recipe from Bon Appétit, October 1995}
4 acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeded
1/3 c dried cranberries
1/4 c hot water
Earth Balance (vegan butter)
24 oz. wild mushrooms, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3. c herbed stuffing bread cubes

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Place the squash cut side down in a baking dish. Cover dish tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave for 10 minutes. Pierce plastic to let steam escape. Uncover and turn squash halves cut side up. Season cavities with salt and pepper. You may have to do this step twice due to the quantity of squash, or unless you have a gargantuan microwave, in which I do not...Okay sorry, back to the recipe...

3. Combine dried cranberries and hot water in a small bowl.

4. Melt some Earth Balance in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion and sage and sauté until beginning to soften. Add bread cubes and stir. Mix in cranberries with soaking liquid. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Mound stuffing into squash halves. Dot each half with Earth Balance. Bake until heated through and crisp on top, about 10 minutes.

Up next (and saving the best for last) a vegan Thanksgiving Day dessert!

Thanksgiving | Appetizers

Yesterday, Thanksgiving was very different than our traditional celebration. Usually, we travel to celebrate with my extended family in Ohio. But, this year, travels did not fit within our work schedules and Nick and I stayed home, in our humble abode in the (60-degree) Chicagoland.

Thanksgiving doesn't seem to be the same just sitting around the two of us, so we invited our dear friend Anthony who was here alone as well, to join in the vegan Thanksgiving festivities. We spent the day socializing, eating, watching the Macy's Day Parade, eating, laughing, game playing, eating, cooking...oh, did I mention eating?

The three of us started our day off enjoying Thanksgiving Blend coffee from Starbucks and delicious vegan blueberry muffins from Whole Foods, while watching the parade.

Next course? Appetizers — an antipasti platter.

Marinated Mushrooms
{an adapted recipe from Martha Stewart}
1 package of beech brown mushrooms
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 T white wine vinegar
1 T dried oregano
6 T extra virgin olive oil
3/4 t sea salt
1/8 t freshly ground black pepper

1. Trim mushroom stems and break apart to separate the mushroom bunch. Put the mushrooms in a jar.

2. Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar and oregano in a bowl. Whisk in oil slowly until fully integrated and emulsified. Whisk in salt and pepper.

3. Pour marinade over the mushrooms and let stand for at least 20 minutes on your counter, stirring or rotating the jar occasionally. If desired, refrigerate mushrooms, with a lid overnight. Serve at room temperature.

These mushrooms had a two-thirds approval rate. Both myself and Anthony liked these lemony mushrooms, Nick was not a fan.

Along with the marinated mushrooms, on the antipasti platter, I included roasted garlic, blanched asparagus and a variety of marinated olives.

Roasted Garlic
4 heads of garlic — or as many as you would like to make!
extra virgin olive oil

1. Cut off just enough of the top, of each garlic head, to expose all the cloves inside.

2. Grab a small, oven-safe pan and drizzle a little evoo in the pan — tilt to cover the bottom thoroughly.

3. Place the garlic heads, cut side up, in the pan.

4. Drizzle the heads of garlic with evoo. This is so they won't burn.

5. Salt and pepper each of the garlic heads.

6. Cover the pan with tinfoil. Pop into a 375 degree oven for about 40-45 minutes.

7. Once removed and cooled slightly, grab the bottom of the head and gently squeeze until each of the clove pop out. They should be mushy.

Enjoy! Roasted garlic is great as a spread on a baguette (that's how we enjoyed it this Thanksgiving) or you could add it into your mashed potatoes, or really into anything that you want a buttery-roasted-yummy-garlicy-deliciousness!

Next up: salad & entree recipes...

A Vegan Thanksgiving

A what?!? Thanksgiving?

Yes, you heard me — a VEGAN Thanksgiving.

No turkey you ask?

No, no turkey and definitely not a tofurkey either.

I am all about fresh and wholesome ingredients. I'll admit, I bought a tofurkey one time — but I didn't eat it, I was too scared! I am not all about fake meat products, I like to stick with the natural, whole grains, fruits and veggies as much as possible.

{proof — I did purchase one, once upon a time...}

So, I am sure you're curious what a vegan may eat on Thanksgiving so here is the inside scoop...

Thanksgiving 2012 Menu:

Vegan antipasti platter including marinated mushrooms, blanched asparagus, mixed provencal olives with preserved lemon and oregano, roasted garlic and baguette slices

Pistachio-Pomegranate Chopped Salad

Brussels Sprouts with Lemon — this recipe will change the mind of any brussels sprout hater out there. True fact.

Wild Mushroom and Sage Stuffed Acorn Squash

Vegan Nantucket Cranberry Pie

{Recipes will be shared after Thanksgiving}

What are you plans for Thanksgiving this year? Do you have a signature dish? Trying out something new? Share below!

Vegan Lasagna

Mangiare per vivere e non vivere pere mangiare — Italian proverb
Translation: Eat to live and not live to eat.

The weekend is coming to a close, it is Sunday at 4 pm and it is already getting dark! A good way to shut-down a weekend is with a big pan of saucy vegan lasagna, layered with spinach, mushrooms, artichokes, pesto and marinara sauce. This recipe looks daunting with lots of steps, but I promise, they're just little steps and this is a quick dish to whip up.

Tofu Ricotta
1.5 t. salt
1 t. oregano
16 oz. firm tofu
4 cloves garlic, minced
freshly ground pepper

1. Drain the tofu and pat dry with paper towels. Crumble tofu in a bowl, using the back of a fork.
2. Incorporate the remaining ingredients and mash until the consistency of ricotta.

Vegan Almond Pesto
See recipe here.

Mushroom-Artichoke-Spinach Lasagna
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 lb button mushrooms, sliced
1 lb baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 T. vegan butter
1 bag frozen spinach, defrosted and liquid pressed out
1 can artichoke hearts, quartered
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Red Pepper Flakes

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat vegan butter in a large saute pan. Add mushrooms and saute until semi-soft and still holding their form.
3. Spray a 9x11 pan with non-stick spray. Start the layering processes with spaghetti sauce and then layer, using all ingredients as preferred. Finally, end with a final layer of spaghetti sauce and season with red pepper flakes and oregano.

4. Let rest for 20 minutes to allow the noodles to slightly soften.
5. Bake the lasagna uncovered for 30 minutes, then cover for the final 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest before cutting for 20 minutes.
6. Enjoy!

What are your favorite lasagna ingredients? Share below!