Monday, November 12, 2012

How To Have A Vegan Thanksgiving in 2012 And Beyond

Saturday was our third annual Thanksgiving party for our friends, and once again it was a huge success! My in-laws who live by us come too. Thank goodness for all my mother-in-law's appliances! Cooking for a little over 30 people, including lots of kids, is a song and dance with oven space. I utilized her crock pots, large roaster, and this awesome green pot for my gravy. 

I have this party a week or two before Thanksgiving Day as a way to reclaim the holiday, and invite others to share our "plant happiness." I never get tired of hearing people's amazement at how vegan food actually tastes good. During the party, I heard my awesomely open minded friends talk about having meatless mondays in their home, and others talk about trying their hand at vegan cooking, just for fun!

Preparation for the event was highly orchestrated and spread out over two days, but it was surprisingly easy. I couldn't have done it without my sioux chef/husband! Keep in mind that you have to actually like cooking in order to all this, but even if you don't throw a huge party, you can scale one of these dishes down and bring it to your next Thanksgiving get-together. My mother-in-law has already requested the sweet potatoes for our regular Thanksgiving. Keep in mind these recipes serve about 30 people. 

The photos above were taken before going into the oven, so imagine a crispy topping. Here's the recipe round up...

Mashed Potatoes
7 1/2 lbs yukon gold potatoes
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1 cup veggie broth (Pacific brand makes tiny one cup containers so you don't have to open a whole quart sized box)
3 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup salt (it seems like a lot, but it serves a lot)

Boil the potatoes in an extra large pot until fork tender. Drain, return to pot, and add other ingredients. I allowed my potatoes to sit in the strainer for a while before mashing, so a lot of the water evaporated.

Mash or beat with a mixer, but don't over beat.

I then put the mashed potatoes into the base of a 5 quart crock pot, put the lid on, and stored it in the fridge to bake the next day. The manufacturer's website says its oven safe up to 400 degrees.

About an hour before the party started, I baked it at 400 degrees for about 45-50 minutes, including pre-heating time. When it was done, I inserted it into the crock pot unit and left it on the low setting.

Biscuits (not pictured)

This is how I veganize the single recipe, before tripling it...

  • substitute the 3/4 buttermilk with 3/4 ts apple cider vinegar, and enough almond milk to make 3/4 of a cup. Let it sit for 5 minutes or so to curdle.
  • substitute shortening with Spectrum Organic Shortening. Its non-hydrogenated, and I only use it for certain applications, where a solid fat is needed. 
I first mix the dry ingredients, then blend them with the shortening in the food processor. Then I put it all in a big bowl, add the "buttermilk," and stir with a big strong fork.

Drop big dollops onto a large baking sheet at 400 degrees for 17 minutes.

For the party, I baked them in two rounds, along side the mashed potatoes. When they were done, I put them in a 7 quart crock pot and left it on the low setting. This saved me oven space, so I could use the regular oven for my stuffing and sweet potatoes.

Cornbread Stuffing
1 recipe corn bread, made the day before (recipe below)
1 package Arrowhead Mills Organic Stuffing Mix
1 cup olive oil
3 cups diced yellow onion
3 cups diced green bell pepper
3 cups diced red bell pepper
3 cups diced zuchini
4 cups corn kernels
3 Tb salt
1 Tb garlic powder
1 1/2 ts poultry seasoning
1 quart box of veggie broth (4 cups)

Saute all veggies except for corn in olive oil until transluscent. Add veggie broth, crumbled corn bread, stuffing mix, corn, and seasonings.

Put it into an extra large baking dish, cover, and store in the fridge until its time to bake.

Corn Bread

This is a veganized recipe from the back of Bob's Red Mill Cornmeal. I wouldn't use this cornbread on its own, but its great in my stuffing! The doubled recipe is...

2 cups corn meal
2 cups AP flour
2 Tb sugar (evaporated cane juice)
8 ts baking powder
1 ts salt
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups almond milk

Mix dry ingredients in one large mixing bowl, mix wet ingredients in another. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until incorporated. Do not over mix. 

Bake in a 9x13 in pan at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Sweet Potatoes
Everyone's favorite!

5 lbs sweet potatoes
3/4 cups Spectrum Organic Shortening (I think coconut oil would be great too, if you don't mind the slight coconut taste)
6 Tb agave nectar or any other liquid sweetener 
3/4 ts salt
3/4 cups unsweetened almond milk

1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw walnuts
3/4 cup AP flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 ts salt
3/4 cup shortening

Bake sweet potatoes on a sheet pan at 350 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours, or until fork tender. Allow to cool, then peel. It should come right off. No need for a peeler.

Mash together potatoes, shortening, agave, salt, and almond milk. Spread into a lightly greased 9x13 in casserole dish. 

In a mixing bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, and salt. 

In a food processor, pulse nuts until crumbly. Add dry ingredients and continue to pulse until incorporated. Add shortening and pulse again until a gorgeous crumble topping forms. Sprinkle it onto the sweet potatoes, cover, and store in the fridge until ready to bake

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour, including pre-heating time. 

I know tofurky plays into a lot of stereotypes about vegans, but its fun for Thanksgiving, and everyone thought it tasted like turkey! I think it looks and tastes a lot like dark meat. The key is cooking it right. 

I used 3 tofurkies this year. For each one, rub it down with...

1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tb soy sauce
1 ts garlic powder
1/2 ts poultry seasoning
1 Tb green onion

Wrap with lots of tin foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, including pre-heating time. 

Here's my genius idea below. Thats right, I combine the tofurkies with the veggies in my mother-in-law's big roaster. Trust me, I need all the extra oven space I can get.

Roasted Veggies
4 huge heads of broccoli
1 huge orange beet
1 huge multicolored beet
3 regular red beets
sprinkle of green onions
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tb salt
sprinkle of pepper

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, including preheating time. I could have cooked them for a little less time, but as you can see they were combined with the tofurkies. They were still great. 

Classic Thanksgiving Gravy
This is my classic gravy recipe, plus the gravy that comes with the Tofurkey. I had three packets.

1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup brown rice flour or AP flour
8 cups low sodium No Chicken Broth (You can use low sodium vegetable broth)
1 cup cup nutritional yeast
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2-1ts ts salt
2 ts garlic powder
2 Tb Aromatica Organics Garlic Pepper Blend (it's available at Costco)

On medium heat, make a roux with the olive oil and flour. Add remaining ingredients, but start with 1/2 ts of salt, and add more later if needed.

Increase heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. 

Let simmer for 40 minutes. 

Add extra gravy packets, then add more salt if needed.