These recipes originally appear in the August 2022 issue of HomeLife Magazine.
You’ll gobble up these vegan dishes.
As Thanksgiving draws near, I am reminded to go on the hunt for our well-tucked extra table leaf. You see, our family has expanded as we’ve added several new faces to grace our holiday table this year, and as an added bonus our traditional menu will receive a much-needed makeover as these sweet newcomers follow a vegan diet.
Sharing my kitchen with the women in my family is one of the sweetest aspects of our holiday time together. This year I’m particularly excited to welcome Zoe into this space. Zoe is a gifted cook, and she is teaching me a lot about the simplicity and complexity of eating vegan. She explained that veganism is about incorporating plant-based whole foods into our diet for their nutritional value, and the omitting of meat, dairy, and eggs, which also helps to diffuse her food allergies. I must admit, even though my holiday recipes are a treasure for the sake of tradition and hold near-and-dear ties to the ones who introduced them, I’ve been concerned as of late about their sugar content and high caloric ingredients. It’s a health-related conundrum I’ve contemplated a lot recently: How can I make our Thanksgiving meal a little healthier? The timing seems ripe to explore some recipe changes.
My challenge when it comes to pulling off a new menu is embracing the unfamiliar. I like to know what I’m doing — especially on a big day of cooking and hosting. The key I found to managing both is prior planning. Coincidentally, I was invited to a vegan/traditional Thanksgiving dinner last year, where I learned something invaluable from the experience: I’m not interested in preparing a vegan option to place alongside a traditional one. Two of the same dishes on a hectic cooking day like Thanksgiving — that turkey just won’t fly. Instead, Zoe has introduced me to some wonderful alternatives to cook with, such as oat or coconut milk, vegan butter, vegetable broth, flax seed, and coconut sugar. These ingredients can easily be swapped out and added to favorite recipes, such as mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and green beans.
I can’t tell a difference in flavor, and the health benefits well-outweigh the effort put forth.
Even though my passion to collect recipes, pair flavors, cook, and design tables is still steadfast, I vehemently subscribe to the belief, “What’s on the table isn’t nearly as important as who is around it.”
First and foremost, I want Zoe, and her daughter, Annabelle, to feel right at home in our family. Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.
Fennel Stuffing | Makes 8 servings
16 oz. bread (cubed)
4 Tbsp. olive oil or vegan butter
2 yellow onions (diced)
4 ribs celery (chopped)
1 large fennel bulb (diced)
3–3.5 c. vegetable broth
6 Tbsp. flat leaf parsley (chopped)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole dish with either olive oil or vegan butter and set aside. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt butter or oil. Add vegetables and sauté until tender. In a large pot over medium heat, add broth and warm. Add the cubed bread to the pot and turn off the heat. Stir in the cooked onions, celery, and fennel. Add chopped parsley and gently fold together. Transfer to the prepared dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes.
TIP FROM LAURA: “You can easily make the stuffing both vegan and gluten-free by using gluten-free bread.“
Sweet Potato Soufflé | Makes 8 servings
4 large sweet potatoes (peeled and chopped)
1 c. full fat canned coconut milk
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. brown sugar
5 Tbsp. vegan butter (softened to room temperature)
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole dish with vegan butter then set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add chopped sweet potatoes and cook for 10–15 minutes or until fork tender. Drain the potatoes and transfer them to a bowl. Add the coconut milk, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. With a hand mixer or potato masher, combine all ingredients well. Spread the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared dish. In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the potatoes and bake for 35–45 minutes or until bubbly on the sides.
Green Bean Casserole | Makes 8 servings
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 lbs. fresh green beans (ends trimmed and halved)
8 oz. mushrooms (sliced)
5 cloves garlic (minced)
1 c. vegetable broth
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. unsweetened creamer (coconut or almond milk)
1-1/2 c. unsweetened milk (unflavored almond or cashew milk)
1/2 tsp. salt
6 oz. French fried onions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole dish with vegan butter then set aside. Over medium high heat, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the beans and cook for five minutes. Drain and set aside. In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, add oil, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook for three to five minutes. Sprinkle flour on top of the mushrooms, then add broth and stir until it thickens. Add the creamer and then the milk. Cook for about five minutes, or until it is thick and creamy. Add salt to taste and remove from heat. Add the green beans to the casserole dish, cover them in the mushroom mixture, and top with French fried onions. Bake for 15–20 minutes or until the onions are crispy.
TIP FROM LAURA: “You can use soy or oat milk and creamer if you have a nut allergy. Both would enhance this recipe.”