Main Event: Creamy Spinach-Sage Studel. We wish we could share the recipe we used for this amazing cream sauce. It's brilliantly flavorful and doesn't weigh you down because it's thickened (and further flavored) with sauteed vegetables in addition to the nut base. As if all that weren't enough, it's heavy on whole foods, with only a tiny bit of added oil. It was a recipe we got from being a Compassionate Cook member, so we can't post it here. But if you already have a favorite cashew cream sauce, you're not far from throwing together this pretty main dish. Puree your cream sauce with a buncha sage, stir in about 12 oz sauteed spinach, and wrap it up in puff pastry.
This could easily be called Main Event, Part 2. When we first started hosting our (small) family's Thanksgiving a few years ago, we decided to go with a cornbread-fig recipe from Food Network chef Tyler Florence. It was a decisive hit, and instantly became one of the non-negotiable items on the Thanksgiving table, which means we eventually had to adapt it for our vegan holiday. (The tamari kinda makes the whole thing uglier than homemade sin, but since we're hungry vegans and not shooting a Saveur cover, we don't let it bother us.)
Cornbread-Spiced Walnut-Fig Dressing
2 TBSP oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
8 oz walnuts, finely chopped/coarsely ground
1 tsp fennel seed (optional)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 TBSP low-sodium tamari (or soy sauce)
1 cornbread loaf (8-inch round), crumbled
2/3-3/4 cup rehydrated figs, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
1 TBSP ground flax + 3 TBSP water (flax egg)
2 TBSP hemp seeds + 4 TBSP water + 2 TBSP oil
1/2-1 cup vegetable stock
Preheat the oven to 350.
Heat the 2 TBSP of oil over medium heat. Saute the onion and rosemary for 5 minutes, then add the walnuts, spices, and tamari. Cook an additional 5-7 minutes, until the onion is cooked and the walnuts and spices are very fragrant.
Transfer the walnut mixture to a mixing bowl and add the cornbread and figs, then season generously with salt and pepper.
With an immersion blender, combine the flax egg, hemp seeds, water, and oil. (Feel free to replace the hemp seeds and water with 1/3 cup of any nondairy milk you have on hand. Though hemp does create a particularly creamy result--due in part to the fact that the seeds blend well enough that you don't need to strain it, which adds richness--it's not necessary to buy them just for this purpose). Blend until very creamy. Whisk in 1/2 cup of vegetable stock and add to the cornbread-walnut mixture.
Stir, add more stock if it seems dry (you should have something like a very moist dough). Transfer the mixture to a 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish and bake at 350 for 45 min-1 hr.
One of the few times in a year we break out the nondairy butter (margarine). Worth it.
scant cup (15 TBSP) unsweetened nondairy milk (we used our homemade almond milk)
2 TBSP + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup + 2 TBSP nondairy butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp corn starch
3/4 tsp salt
Whisk together the milk and all of the apple cider vinegar. Set aside in the refrigerator or freezer.
Measure out your 1/4 cup of nondairy butter, chopping it into pieces as best you can and set it in the refrigerator.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, corn starch, and salt. Using your hands, quickly rub the cold butter into the flour until you have a mixture made up of mostly pea-sized globs of flour-covered butter. Make a well in the center and pour in the cold milk mixture. Stir until just combined (the dough will be very sticky).
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, dust the top with flour, and gently fold the dough over itself half a dozen times. Pat out into a 1-inch-thick round. Cut out biscuits (we use a glass with about a three-inch opening at the top--smaller than a pint glass, bigger than a Collins) and transfer to a baking sheet, placing them so that they just touch. Continue to work the scrap dough, though as little as possible to preserve tenderness, until it's all used.
Bake at 450 for about 15 minutes, until golden. (Optionally, crack some fresh black pepper over the tops of the biscuits just before placing them in the oven.) While the biscuits bake, melt the remaining 2 TBSP of nondairy butter. Spoon/brush the melted butter over the hot biscuits and serve.
Herb Scalloped Potatoes from Veganomicon. Another non-negotiable menu item for our Thanksgivings. We like to use tiny or fingerling potatoes to maximize the surface area on which the seasoning mix has to settle. It makes for a longer chopping session (and, admittedly, makes a kinda fussy recipe even fussier), but the final result is a total win.
Confession time: we never eat the Cranberry Relish, but we have family members that would have our heads if it ever disappeared. Plus, it's too easy to have any good reason not to make it. So we continue to make Wolfgang Puck's recipe, using lemon juice.
Roasted Apples with a Balsamic Reduction
4 apples (we had Honeycrisps), cored and sliced
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP natural cane sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 425.
Toss the apples with the sugar and lemon juice and bake for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring the vinegar to a boil in a small pot. Reduce head and simmer gently until thickened into a syrup, about 20 minutes.
Drizzle the syrup over the apples and serve. (If the reduction hardens, set over low heat and it will soften again.)
Chocolate Swirled Pumpkin Pie: This comes from The Joy of Vegan Baking, but we added the swirl and made our crust with Mi-Del brand Ginger Snaps. To make the swirled version: Once your pie is prepped, melt 3 oz of chocolate (or less, if you want to have some bites without chocolate), pour over the top of the pumpkin in a spiral, and swirl the two together with a chopstick. Bake as directed.
Our other dessert this year was a family request (we love those!):
2 cans coconut milk (we used Thai Kitchen brand)
1/3 cup natural cane sugar
1/3 cup corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP vanilla extract
22 Mi-Del brand Vanilla Snaps
Preheat oven to 350.
Whisk together the milk, sugar, corn starch, and vanilla in a medium sauce pan. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent sticking on the bottom, until thickened and beginning to simmer, about 7-10 minutes.
Set aside 6 Vanilla Snaps and smash them into crumbs.
To assemble, place 8 cookies in the bottom of a loaf pan, slice one of the bananas on top of them, pour in half of the pudding, and repeat, ending with the other half of the pudding (note that you may have a bit of pudding that you can't fit in). Sprinkle the reserved cookie crumbs over the top and bake until warm and bubbly, about 15 minutes.
Serve warm, or, if you're like us, make your Thanksgiving desserts the night before and remove from the fridge a couple of hours before serving.