I’m not a vegetarian, but I have a vegetarian boyfriend (and an aversion to all things Thanksgiving). I’m going to his parents’ house for the holidays this year and, luckily, they’re tolerant of nontraditional main dishes, so we’re going to experiment a little.
The stereotypical veg main dish for Thanksgiving is, of course, Tofurky, but this has always seemed like one of the most disgusting foods on the planet to me. If you’re a vegetarian, the object is to refrain from eating meat, correct? So why exactly would you want to scarf down something that’s supposed to imitate the texture and taste of a plump, perfectly roasted turkey? I get that some vegetarians don’t mind the taste of meat and went veg for other reasons, but still. Tofurky will remain a bizarre mystery to me, and I’m fine enjoying a meal without it, thankyouverymuch.
So if you’re not going to bake up a delicious vat of Tofurky, then what?
Well, you have zillions of options. You could make a fancier-than-usual veg stir-fry featuring a killer marinade and sautéed pieces of tofu, textured soy protein, or nuts and legumes. Personally, though, I prefer the casserole route—this might be because I’m from the Midwest, but I just find casseroles so comforting and perfect for chilly weather. Ratatouille, vegetable lasagna, baked pasta with butternut squash, spanakopita, veggie gratin, and veggie chili are all excellent choices that I guarantee will make the meat-eaters at your table drool.
If you want to go for something even fancier, don’t hold back. Autumn gourds and squashes are absolutely perfect for stuffing, and you could bust out something like stuffed butternut squash with whole wheat, wild rice, and onions. The New York Times recommends this mushroom and pear bread stuffing, which can easily be converted to veg form by leaving out the pancetta and subbing a flavorful vegetable broth for the turkey stock. If you feel like something really comforting, go for this smoked cheddar soufflé, which looks light-as-air and severely delicious.
Even though I hate most Thanksgiving foods, I haven’t lost my taste for pumpkin pie, so I recommend topping things off traditionally—but with a twist. Try vegan pumpkin pie to get an even richer pumpkin flavor, or go classy with Gourmet’s pumpkin tart with an anise-seed crust. Yum, yum, and yum some more. Pass the meatless dishes, please!