I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’ve mentioned before that Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday and I look forward to the amazing feast all year long, which is why it is highly unusual and somewhat lame that not only did I not post any Thanksgiving recipes this month, but I didn’t even do a post on Thanksgiving day itself. But I have a good excuse. You see, I just gave birth a week ago to this beautiful boy named Bodhi.
I hope that all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the past few years we’ve had several friends over for Thanksgiving and I’ve done almost all of the cooking, but this year we’ve been incredibly busy and therefore decided to keep it simple and go out to eat, and let someone else do the cooking for a change.
Hearing the laments from veg friends forced to spend their Thanksgivings in the presence of a turkey carcass, I felt very blessed indeed that even after we decided to eat out, we still had several vegan options to choose from. It was incredibly difficult deciding between Candle Cafe, Blossom, Foodswings, and Angelica Kitchen, to name only a few places that had incredible looking all-vegan Thanksgiving menus, but after weighing all the factors we decided on Angelica Kitchen.
Angelica Kitchen gave us a beautiful, very satisfying meal to remember. I was really happy to see that the restaurant was absolutely packed. So many people having vegan Thanksgiving feasts!
The meal started off with a plate of Jerusalem Artichoke-Black Olive Pâté, served with sage-onion crackers and these beautiful watermelon radishes. It was almost too pretty to eat. We also got a small dish of pickled vegetables – cranberry balsamic baby beets, Szechuan cauliflower, and minted green beans. It was as colorful as it was tasty. I even enjoyed the beets, and I don’t normally like beets, so that’s saying a lot.
For the second course we shared both of the soups. One was a rich, dark mushroom broth with escarole, roasted garlic, and seared shiitakes. It was amazingly complex and had a deep, concentrated mushroom flavor. I loved it. The other soup was a delicious celery root bisque with roasted apples and “autumn spices.” It was rich and creamy and reminded me a lot of the celery root soup I made recently from Tal Ronnen’s cookbook.
Next we had a salad course of endive and baby lettuces with shaved fennel, radicchio, pear miso dressing, and rosemary toasted pecans. It was good, but it’s salad. What else can I say about it?
Then we came to the main courses. There were two options, so of course we got both and shared them. One was a seitan en croute (didn’t I just have some of that?), served over roasted garlic horseradish cauliflower puree, with sauteed spigarello and a red wine porcini mushroom reduction. This was fantastic, but my only complaint was that they went a bit overboard with the sage. There was almost a full layer of sage leaves wrapped inside the phyllo pastry crust. I like sage, but not that much. Actually I have one other small complaint. Alongside our entrees, we got a side of maple roasted root vegetables and Dijon roasted brussels sprouts. The flavors of the side vegetables were very good, but they were totally overcooked and mushy. Not the way I like my brussels sprouts, but it was a very small mar on an otherwise spectacular meal.
The other main entree was the heirloom bean tamales, with a filling of swiss chard, almond cotija cheese, and Rio Zape beans, topped with a creamy pumpkin pipian sauce and finished with grilled poblano chili crema and pomegranate seeds. I don’t know what most of those words mean, so maybe you can Google them, and get back to me? All that I do know is that these tamales were perhaps the best tamales I have ever tasted. The flavors were seasonal and yet totally unexpected, a wonderfully pleasant surprise on the Thanksgiving menu. From now on, I think that tamales should be included at all holiday meals. These were mind-blowingly good.
Speaking of mind-blowing, we still had our dessert course to work our way through. There were three choices, so we didn’t get a picture of the poached pear with cranberry caramel sauce, opting instead for the pumpkin pie and the chocolate truffle tart with pistachio crust, vanilla bean cream, and black cherry coulis. The pumpkin pie was flawless, the texture and spices were perfect in this classic Thanksgiving dessert. And the chocolate truffle tart… I don’t know how they got it so perfectly rich and smooth. It was so good, I was completely stuffed at this point but I just couldn’t help going back for yet another bite of this chocolate tart. It was heavenly.
This is my final taste test before the big T-day, and I purposely saved it for last. It’s the Field Roast Stuffed Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute, and doesn’t the name alone make your mouth water?
Described on the Field Roast site as “a sumptious rich grain meat seasoned with toasted hazelnuts and rosemary stuffed with a sausage style mixture of Field Roast, cranberries, apples, and crystalized ginger. Wrapped en croute with a rich vegan puff pastry, it is perfect as a center piece for a delicious, gourmet holiday meal.” They had me at “puff pastry.” Swoon!
As a huge fan of all the Field Roast products I have tasted thus far, I had high expectations for this roast, and was not disappointed. I absolutely love the savoriness of “meat,” together with the subtle sweetness of the fruits and ginger. It is hearty enough to feel indulgent, but also elegant enough to serve at any holiday feast. I dare any omnivore to not want to devour this delicious vegan creation. I dare them!
About a month after I first met my now-husband, we spent our first Thanksgiving together. I remember that we bought a Tofurky Feast, complete with the gravy and the dumplings… is it true that they swapped the dumplings for chocolate cake now? Anyway, this was six years ago, and as I remember it, the Tofurky Feast was pretty much the only veggie option that I knew of then. It’s amazing to me how many incredible vegan options we have readily available nowadays. It’s a good time to be a vegan. And for that I am deeply thankful.
That said, this Field Roast En Croute is by far my favorite of all the holiday special products I have tried. If you still haven’t decided on your vegan main course for Thursday, then you should run out immediately to get one of these. As for me, I’m one step ahead of you, because I’m already thinking about how I’m going to eat the leftovers…
So, it’s less than a week until the big day, and while I’m still going to post some more ideas for Thanksgiving dishes, chances are you’ve already decided on which not-turkey dish you’re going to have as your main course. If that’s the case, then I thought I’d do a quick little round up of things you might want to serve alongside your Tofurky/Field Roast/homemade seitan roll/”meat cake“/stuffed acorn squash/chickpea cutlets/Chinese takeout.
Slice up a baguette and whet your guests’ appetites with some earthy, savory Porcini & Pecan Pâté:
For your first course, my absolute favorite fall soup is this elegant and delicious Celery Root Soup with Granny Smith Apple and Chive Oil from The Conscious Cook:
I used to have a tradition of making a macaroni & cheese for Thanksgiving, which is ALWAYS a good thing, but this Butternut Squash & Macaroni Casserole is a nice twist on the familiar dish:
Instead of a green bean casserole (which I also love), spice things up a bit with these The Vanderbilt-Inspired Brussels Sprouts:
And what’s Thanksgiving without stuffing? You need to make this Wild Mushroom & Spinach Stuffing:
But this year, I’m starting a new tradition with this mind-blowing Oven Roasted Banana Rum Cheesecake with Spiced Pecan Crust & Maple Rum Sauce from The Conscious Cook:
I love stuffing. Thanksgiving, to me, is pretty much all about the stuffing. And the pumpkin pie. Well, and mashed potatoes with gravy. But mostly the stuffing.
Being the carb-lover that I am, I usually do two different kinds of stuffing each year. I make this one, which has become my tried and true recipe, and I make a new recipe… either a savory one, like with vegan sausage, or a sweeter one, with dried fruits and nuts and things. What will I make this year? Who knows! But I will certainly make this Wild Mushroom & Spinach stuffing recipe again. As far as stuffings go, this one is pretty simple and straight-forward, with no hard ingredients to find. The flavors are fairly simple, but as with any good stuffing, the end result is so much more than the sum of the parts. It is truly a classic Thanksgiving dish.
Vegan Wild Mushroom & Spinach Stuffing (very slightly adapted from this recipe)
makes 8 – 10 servings
3/4 cup Earth Balance or other vegan butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. assorted fresh wild mushrooms (like chanterelle, shitake, and crimini), cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 9 cups)
3 cups chopped onions (about 1 pound)
2 cups chopped celery (4 to 5 stalks)
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
12 cups (generous) 1-inch cubes day-old pain rustique or ciabatta bread with crust (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1 Tbsp. Ener-G egg replacer, mixed with 4 Tbsp. water (equivalent of 2 eggs)
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup vegetable broth (plus more, if stuffing is too dry)