How was everyone's Thanksgiving holiday? Ours was a huge success. Jim and I had our first ever vegetarian Thanksgiving and all the food was a big hit with our guests. Here's a sampling of what how I set the table, what we served, along with where to find the recipes and how I organized making all the dishes. I somehow managed to get all of these dishes made in my tiny, 10 foot by 10 foot kitchen with a 2 foot by three foot counter.
We had a total of 3 guests (5 total including me and Jim), and luckily our small round kitchen table had plenty of room. Here's some photos of how we set the table. Thanksgiving morning we realized we had forgotten to pick up the gourds we had wanted to create a festive centerpiece, so I last minute came up with the idea of putting some pumpkin seeds in a serving dish and topping them with tea lights. Made for a really beautiful, yet simple centerpiece.
I'm of Italian decent, and anyone who's been to an Italian American Thanksgiving knows it's an all day eat-a-thon. Keeping in tradition, we had a variety of appetizers for our guests to knosh on prior to our formal dinner.
I made a traditional mozzarella and tomato salad complete with basil, olive oil and balsamic. This is one of Jim's favorites.
Jim also selected some cheese and created a cheese plate, which was served with crackers.
I also made one of my favorite recipes ever, an almond cheese spread. It's entirely vegan, and is really reminiscent to a cross between a feta and a goat cheese. It's perfect with crackers, and serves up really nicely in a pretty bakery dish. You can find the recipe I used as a basis here.
I also made another vegan favorite of mine, Alicia Silverstone's Artichoke Dip from the Kind Diet cookbook. One of the dips I really have missed since going vegan is spinach and artichoke dip, so I add about 10 ounces of spinach to my recipe, but it can be made with or without. You can find the recipe here.
We also had a tray of veggies and hummus out. I love carrots and hummus.
Moving onto dinner, last year I made the menu Vegetarian Times featured several years ago designed by Moosewood Restaurant in upstate NY. I love this menu. It's very seasonal, festive and delicious. The menu includes a cranberry chutney with crystalized ginger, seasonal fall salad with beets, fennel and oranges, green beans with a crispy shallot topping, and amazing vegetable strudel, complete with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and vegan cheeses in a phyllo pastry shell. You can find links to the entire menu and recipes here.
I also made homemade mashed potatoes. Recipe is super easy, just chop some yukon gold potatoes, cover with water and boil until tender. Drain and run the potatoes through a potato ricer, and finish with vegan soy creamer, butter, salt and pepper. Delicious!
I did take a little help from the pre-made department as well in this menu. Jim absolutely loves stuffing, so I got a bag of Whole Food's vegan stuffing which was great because it takes about 5 minutes to make. I finished mine off in the oven to give it a crispy top. I also got some Fresh Direct parbaked rolls as well.
Initially I was resistant, but Jim really wanted to get a fake turkey substitute for our guests being all our guests were omnivores. I decided on Field Roasts Hazelnut Cranberry Roast, and it was the sleeper hit of the dinner. Our guests LOVED it! It tasted more like sausage than turkey, but was delicious and complimented by the cranberry and hazelnut stuffing and puff pastry crust. Even Jim's brother, who is a self admitted picky eater commented on how much he liked it.
I also made a really amazing sweet potato casserole, complete with dandies marshmallows but I forgot to photograph it before we devoured it. For dessert (yes, there's more!) we had vegan pumpkin whoopie pies while watching a movie. For us, there's not better way to handle digesting a huge Thanksgiving feast than by watching a movie. We're not big football fans in the Feld household so movies work perfect for us.
So how did I manage to pull off cooking all of this in my tiny kitchen? Very careful planning. Here's an outline of how I managed it.
Fry the shallots for the green beans. They keep for several weeks in a jar in the pantry.
Soak the almonds for the almond cheese spread.
Make the filling for the vegetable strudel. Store in a container in the fridge.
Assemble the sweet potato casserole. Store in the fridge with foil over it.
Chop the potatoes for the mashed potatoes and store in the pot I'm making them in, covered with water and the pot lid. I stored it on the stove.
Assemble the spinach dip in a pretty baking pan, store in the fridge.
Blend the almonds for the almond cheese and strain in the fridge overnight.
Make the dressings for the green beans and salad, store in separate jars.
Roast the beets for the salad. Keep them in their foil overnight in the fridge. Then chop all the ingredients for the salad and store separately in the fridge.
Determine what serving wear I was using for which dishes, take them out of storage and mark with post its. That way you don't have to think about it the next day.
Bake the almond cheese and allow to cool. Top with the olive oil.
Assemble the vegetable strudel and store in the fridge
Just prior to guests arriving, bake spinach dip and while it's in the oven, put out your cheeses, crackers, and vegetables and dip
When ready for dinner, bake the sweet potato casserole, field roast and vegetable strudel at 425 degrees for 40 minutes.
While items are in the oven, turn on the mashed potatoes to boil. Also microwave green beans and toss with dressing and top with shallots, assemble the salad, and start the stuffing.
Take foil off sweet potatoes and let continue for another 20 minutes. Take field roast and strudel out and allow to set up before carving up.
Drain and finish mashed potatoes. Crisp up stuffing in the oven and add the rolls on a tray to bake for 10 minutes.
Add marshmallows and nuts to sweet potatoes and broil until marshmallows brown.
Microwave some gravy (I took some help from the store with this step)
Call your guests in to enjoy their meal!
One thing I did this year that helped immensely was to wash the dishes as we went along. We had really minimal dishes by the end of the meal even despite all the food we had. It worked out great. Another thing I did was to prepare as many things as possible in pretty, refrigerator and oven safe dish ware. I received a lot of Corningware for my wedding shower, which I love because it comes with plastic tops to make leftover storage a breeze.
How was everyone else's Thanksgiving? I'd love to hear about what you guys had to eat and what traditions you have. Do share!