Kat Barry: Thanksgiving menu ideas

Published 8:55 am Tuesday, November 26, 2013

By Kat Barry

The holidays can be a real challenge for any health conscious eater. At a time of year when we are supposed to be counting our blessings, it seems sort of ironic to stuff yourself with lots of naughty foods that make you feel lethargic. This year, make an effort not to abuse yourself too much. Be thankful for your health, and honor it by creating some healthful, hearty, holiday magic.

Over the years of providing people vegan recipe ideas, I’ve noticed that main course and desserts are the most taxing part of creating a crowd pleasing vegan menu come holiday season. For that reason, I’ve chosen a couple stand outs in each category. I hope you find them helpful!


Stuffed Acorn Squash with Cornmeal Gravy

For the stuffed squash:

4 acorn squash

½ cup wild rice

¼ cup millet

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 heaping cup red onion

2 cloves garlic minced

2 ½ cups firmly packed torn Ezekiel Bread (found in the freezer section)

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

½ teaspoon dried sage

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup fresh orange juice


For the gravy:

1 white onion, diced

1 ½ tablespoon grapeseed oil

½ cup cornmeal

3 cups vegetable stock

1 ½ cups almond milk

1 teaspoon onion sea salt

¼ teaspoon dried sage

½ teaspoon thyme

¼ teaspoon mustard

¼ teaspoon white pepper

½ teaspoon vegan worcestershire


To make the stuffed squash:

1. Halve the squashes and scoop out seeds and fibers (save seeds to bake later for a snack).

2. Place squash cut side up in shallow baking dishes and cover tightly with foil. Bake for about 40 minutes at 375°, or until easily pierced with a knife but still firm.

3. Meanwhile, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in the wild rice and millet, reduce to a simmer, then cover and cook until the water is absorbed, about 40 mins.

4. Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until golden. Place onions and garlic in a mixing bowl, and combine with the wild rice and the remaining ingredients. Set aside until squash are full cool.

5. Once squash is cool, carefully scoop out the pulp, leaving the shells intact.

6. Combine pulp with millet and rice mixture, fill shells with the stuffing, and bake at 350° for about 20 minutes.  Top with Cornmeal Gravy.


To make the gravy:

1. Heat a large, deep skillet or sauce pan. Add the oil and then the onion. Saute until translucent, then add the cornmeal and the vegetable stock, making a roux. Stir in the almond milk as needed.

2. Add the seasonings, and let simmer until desired consistency is reached.


Swish Chard Manicotti

Serves: 4-6

For the sauce:

½ cup yellow or white onion

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped or pressed

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

¼ cup tomato paste

2 tablespoons dried basil

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ tablespoon dried parsley

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

½ cup sliced sundried tomatoes

1 green bell pepper

¼- ½ cup nutritional yeast (optional)


For the tofu stuffing:

1 16 ounce block tofu

About ¾ cup shallot

2 cups arugula

¼ teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons EVOO

¾ cup cooked quinoa or wild rice

2 tablespoons cornmeal

6 large swiss chard leaves


To make the sauce:

1. Heat the oil a in a sauce pan. Add the onion, and saute until translucent.

2. Next, add the garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add the crushed tomatoes, tomatoes paste, and seasonings, whisking constantly until fully combined.

3. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and add the green peppers and sundried tomatoes.

4. Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes before stirring in the nutritional yeast. Simmer another 5-10 minutes, then pour over your casserole.


To make the tofu filling:

1. Let tofu drain on a paper towel or cheesecloth for at least 30 minutes.

2. Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and toss well with clean hands.


To assemble the casserole:

1. Carefully cut the stem off of the char leaves, leaving the rib in place.

2. Fill each leaf with about ¼ cup tofu filling, then roll tightly. Place seam end down in a class 9×13 baking dish.

3. Cover with sauce, and bake at 375 until sauce is bubbling, about 30 minutes.



Butternut Squash, Apple, Cranberry Bake

For the crumb topping:

6 tablespoons veg margarine or coconut oil

⅔ cup buckwheat flour

⅔ cup almond meal

¾ cup brown sugar

⅛  teaspoon + dash cloves

⅛ teaspoon + dash nutmeg

⅛ teaspoon + dash allspice

⅛ teaspoon + dash ginger


For the bake:

2 cups partially cooked butternut squash, sliced thin ( bake in oven at 375 about 25 mins)

2 cups McIntosh apples, very thinly sliced.

12 oz fresh cranberries

½ cup organic sugar

3 tablespoons buckwheat flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


To make the crumb topping:

1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Use an electric mixer or whisk until coarse crumbs form.


To make the bake:

1. Grease a 9×13 baking dish and preheat oven to 375.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine apples, cranberries, sugar, flour, vanilla, zest, and juice. Transfer to the baking dish and sprinkle with crumb topping.

3. Bake until topping is browned, and juices are thick and bubbling around the edges, about 45 minutes. Let cool before serving.


Pumpkin Pie

2 cups pumpkin puree

¾ cup silken tofu

½ cup maple syrup

½  teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon allspice

¼ tsp nutmeg

⅛ teaspoon clove

9 inch vegan pie crust*


1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.

3. Pour into your prepared 9 inch pie crust, and bake 40-45 minutes.

4. Allow to cool fully before serving.


*If you’re making pie crust from scratch (which I strongly advise), then simply sub organic palm oil shortening for traditional shortening and whole wheat flour for white flour in your favorite crust recipe. Otherwise, there are actually quite a few vegan options for pie crust in the grocery freezer section.