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Vegetarian Thanksgiving delights
Guess who’s not coming to Thanksgiving dinner?
Call it heresy, if you must, to not have the traditional bird as a holiday centerpiece. But this year, we’re looking at the tables of those who eschew animal products and serve up strictly vegetarian fare. These entrées might leave turkey fans wondering why they’ve wasted so much time and effort on Tom in the first place.
COOK LIKE A CHEF
We’ll start with Christine Adrian Miller, a local chef who recently opened the cooking school Kitchen Essentials Classes. One of her recent classes focused on Thanksgiving dinner for vegetarians, vegans and people with food allergies.
“I wanted to do the class because for the past 15-20 years, I’ve seen an uptick in people who are requesting vegetarian entrées in the restaurants where I’ve worked,” she said.
Miller’s top tip is vegetable stock.
“One of the best ways to boost flavor of a vegetable-based dish is to start with a flavorful veggie stock,” she said. “That really helps to build flavor. And I roast the spices I use in the dishes, too. That brings out the aromatic flavors and aromas.”
GO-TO VEGGIE ENTREE
Miller recommends Vegetarian Baked Quinoa.
“I make this dish all the time,” she said. “It’s so full of flavor and colors.”
The dish is based on quinoa — a partticularly high-protein grain — and is combined with rich veggie stock, toasted curry spices, goat cheese, tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin and eggs. Then it’s baked and sliced into squares.
ANOTHER GREAT OPTION
Farley McDonough, who owns Adam’s Mountain Café with her husband, David, offered more ideas for successful vegetarian entrées.
McDonough was a vegetarian for about 15 years and learned to make vegetarian gravy from renowned cook Rose Elliot.
“One of the foods I craved around the holidays was gravy,” she said. “I always serve a nut roast consisting of brown rice, roasted nuts, cheese, savory herbs and mushrooms on a platter surrounded with roasted carrots, Brussels sprouts and shallots, or braised mixed greens sautéed with ginger and garlic — and pass the great gravy to top it all off.”
McDonough, too, believes in making a good-tasting vegetable stock as a base.
“The key to making yummy-tasting vegetarian food is to layer your basics,” she said. “Instead of using store-bought vegetable stock, which is thin and watery, make your own using oven-roasted mushrooms, carrots, onions, celery, bay leaf, parsley and good olive oil.”
OFF THE BEATEN PATH
The Fort restaurant in Morrison offers a unique-sounding vegetarian entrée — the Quinoa Vegetarian Tower. It seemed like one of the more unlikely restaurants to offer a veggie option, considering it is a carnivore’s palace.
However, owner Holly Arnold Kinney practiced a vegetarian diet when she was a young adult and has respect for those who prefer to have a non-animal choice.
One of her personal favorite Thanksgiving recipes is a Northern Indian Sabji Curry, which she shares with us.
“It’s delicious served over brown rice with mango chutney,” Kinney said.
But why is the restaurant serving the Quinoa Tower?
“Having been a vegan vegetarian for seven years, I make sure that The Fort always has a complete protein vegetarian entrée,” she said. “Right now, we’re featuring the quinoa dish.”
The base for the dish is a Qrunch patty, a new product made by a Boulder-based food company. The patty is topped with sautéed squash, anasazi beans, roasted red peppers, corn and green chili. The crowing glory is a spread made of huitlacocha — a mold that grows on corn (yes, edible, and also known as the truffles of Mexico) — combined with avocado relish, chili aioli and cilantro oil.
Deborah Madison is a famous vegetarian cookbook author who has a simple take on Thanksgiving without turkey.
“If you like the traditional side dishes that show up with turkey, you could just make those and be very happy,” she said. “Usually the turkey kind of disappears when you do that. So you just don’t have the turkey, but you do have a plate full of those sweet potatoes, green beans, even dressing and all the other dishes you love on this day.”
USING YOUR NOODLE
Whole Foods Market offers an array of vegetarian and vegan recipes at wholefoods
market.com/recipes. Sarah Arnold, marketing specialist at the store on North Academy Boulevard, recommends their Vegan Tofu Lasagna.
“Lasagna doesn’t seem like a Thanksgiving meal, but this is such a good recipe that it is great to take with you when invited for Thanksgiving,” she said. “The other guests will definitely want some of this.”
So move over, roasted turkey. With some time spent coaxing flavors from veggies for a rich stock and some creativity in the cooking department, it’s possible to have a delicious Thanksgiving meal without a 20-pound bird taking up valuable oven space. After you whip up one of these vegetable-based dishes, no one will miss him anyway.
Roasted Vegetable Stock
Yield: 2 quarts
5 medium carrots
5 stalks of celery
4 Roma tomatoes
3 medium yellow onions
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves peeled garlic
2 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 springs fresh parsley
1 cup white wine
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Scrub carrots, parsnips and celery, leaving the peels. Cut into medium-sized chunks. Quarter Roma tomatoes; peel and cut the onions into medium-sized chunks.
Place vegetables in roasting pan; drizzle with olive oil. Roast 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and add garlic cloves. Continue to roast 20-25 minutes, or until vegetables are caramelized.
Place all the vegetables in a stockpot, pour the white wine into the roasting pan and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits.
Pour that into stockpot along with bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme and parsley. Cover with cold water, allowing 3-4 inches of water over the vegetables.
Simmer on low heat for 5-6 hours; strain and use immediately, or store in the refrigerator.
Source: Christine Adrian Miller, Kitchen Essentials Classes
Vegetarian Baked Quinoa
Yield: 12 servings
3 cups raw quinoa
8 cups Roasted Vegetable Stock (see
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 small pie pumpkin (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3 peeled and seeded roasted red peppers
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 large eggs
4 ounces fresh goat cheese, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
Place quinoa in pot with stock and cook until tender. Place diced onion in heated sauté pan with 2 tablespoons butter. Add curry powder and ground coriander, and cook on medium to release aromas. Combine with quinoa and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel seed and slice a small pie pumpkin. In shallow pan, roast 20-30 minutes until tender. Set aside to cool. Peel and seed peppers and cut into large pieces.
In medium bowl, combine heavy cream, eggs and 2 ounces fresh goat cheese.
Reduce oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch baking pan with olive oil. Arrange in layers quinoa mixture, sliced pumpkin, more quinoa mixture and red pepper, salting layers to taste. Continue to layer until the pan is full to within an inch of the top. Pour egg and cream mixture over top. Cover with foil and bake 30-40 minutes, or until eggs set. Remove foil and return to oven 10-15 minutes to brown top. Remove from oven and let sit 15 minutes. Cut and serve.
Source: Christine Adrian Miller, Kitchen Essentials Classes
Northern Indian Sabji Curry
Yield: 4-6 servings
1/4 cup oil
1 tablespoon tumeric
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon madras curry powder (optional)
1 large white onion, chopped
3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced
3 peeled white potatoes, cut in quarters
4 large carrots, peeled, cut in 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups cauliflower flowerets (preferably fresh)
1 cup green peas
1 cup green beans
1 cup chopped green cabbage
2 large tomatoes, chopped
Salt, to taste
Cooked brown rice and mango chutney
In cast iron cooking pot, over high heat, add oil, turmeric, cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander seed and black pepper, plus curry powder, if using.
Add onions and garlic and cook until light golden brown. Stir in potato chunks, carrots, cauliflower flowerets, green peas, green beans and cabbage.
Stir moderately at high heat until vegetables are mostly tender and cooked. Then add tomatoes. Turn down to a simmer. Cover and continue cooking until mixture becomes saucy. Add salt to taste.
Serve over cooked brown rice with mango chutney as a condiment.
Source: Holly Arnold Kinney
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