Vegetarians at a family Thanksgiving dinner are accustomed to getting the stink eye, the exasperated sigh, and the classic, “I think these mashed potatoes are meat-free…oh wait, I used chicken stock.” On a day that emphasizes indulgence to the point of a bellyache, those who choose to avoid meat are often the odd ones out. Instead of complaining, vegetarians just grin, bear it, and fill up on not-so-satisfying green bean casserole, dinner rolls, and pumpkin pie.
Not so this year. Here are 33 of our favorite vegetarian main dishes that are far from boring, tasteless, or the dreaded (and oft-joked about) Tofurkey. A meat-free meal can be just as rich and scrumptious as any classic Thanksgiving dish. Plus, think of all the time you’ll save when prepping, brining, cooking, basting, and stuffing the turkey is out of the picture!
The classic chicken pot pie goes vegetarian and seasonal in this spotlight-stealing dish. Instead of meat, roasted pumpkin, carrots, celery, and kale take center stage. White kidney beans give the dish some protein, too. Make the crust a tiny bit healthier by opting for whole-wheat flour and going easy on the Parmesan cheese.
This dairy-free risotto uses olive oil and low-sodium broth, not butter and cream, to achieve a rich consistency. With four cups of butternut squash and an entire bunch of kale, this baked dish is an easy way to get your veggies on Thanksgiving Day. Skip the grated parm to make this meal totally vegan.
Toasty walnuts, breadcrumbs, garlic, and sage transform these giant ‘shrooms into a rich, filling meal. Vegan cheese means this bad boy is perfect for vegans gathering around the Thanksgiving table.
Eating a burger on Thanksgiving—sacrilege, or genius? We say the latter. This all-veggie patty is made from lentils, mushrooms, hazelnuts, cranberries, sage, and thyme. It’s just like a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, only on a bun.
This beautiful, healthy tart will definitely upstage the turkey on your Thanksgiving table. Sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, Swiss chard, and Feta cheese hit their stride when tucked into a whole-wheat and teff crust.
These golden rings of squash look like mini suns filled with a seasonal quinoa mixture. Perfect for a chilly late-fall dinner, right? With cranberry, sage, apple, maple syrup, and apple, the quinoa filling hits all of the autumnal high notes.
Like a pot pie, this dish is made from layers of pastry wrapped around a tasty filling. Since pastry is by definition made from tons of butter, lighten up the filling by using part- or all-skim ricotta and going easy on the butter and olive oil.
Who said Thanksgiving dinner had to be a meat and potatoes affair? This creative, Italian-inspired dish is a good example of why breaking with the past can be smart (and delicious). Filling, rich gnocci are a good substitute for traditional rib-sticking fair.
For a healthy, veggie-rich dish, look no further than this fall-themed casserole. Pumpkin balances out the black beans, corn, canned tomatoes, and assortment of flavorful spices. Since it comes together in just 20 minutes, you can prep this dish, toss it in the oven, and then head out for a game of pre-dinner touch football.
10. Warm Autumn Tart
Set a sophisticated tone on Thanksgiving Day with this veggie-loaded tart. Colorful carrots, red onions, sweet potatoes, Romanesco, mushrooms, and kale come together to make a dish as healthy as it is beautiful. With a crust made of chickpea and almond flour, this tart is ideal for gluten-free eaters.
Those who are serious about getting their veggies on Thanksgiving should bookmark this fresh stew recipe. Combine onion, carrot, celery, Portobello mushrooms, white mushrooms, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, peas, and parsley to make this hearty, surprisingly filling vegetable soup.
Put veggies front and center with this rustic, free-form vegetable tart. Colorful carrots, parsnips, butternut squash, and shallots provide plenty of flavor (and beta-carotene), while the goat cheese crumbles give this dish a salty, rich finish. Experiment with a whole-wheat crust to add some fiber into the mix.
Somewhere between a pastry and a meatless version of meatloaf, this impressive veggie main dish will keep vegetarians full on Turkey Day. Chickpeas, whole-wheat breadcrumbs, walnuts, mushrooms, and garlic give the filling a rich, distinctive flavor with plenty of protein.
With spaghetti squash instead of ground beef as its base, this shepherd’s pie is primed for a healthy makeover. Lentils, carrots, celery, and mushrooms up the vegetable ante, while a goat cheese-infused mashed potato topping adds some indulgent Thanksgiving flavor.
For all 33 vegetarian Thanksgiving dishes, go to Greatist.com.
For more holiday food and drink, check out our 2015 Atlanta Holiday Guide.
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