As previously mentioned, this year's Thanksgiving gathering was characterized by a few nontraditional elements, but the potential for epic feasting never changes. Opportunities for over-indulging was high, partly due to the near-doubling of guests present and edible contributions from all parties. Of course, I didn't stick to my initial two-dish plan; I introduced five vegan items to table and other guests' generous consideration of my dietary lifestyle contributed another three. There were food options available for everyone, and needless to say, we ate well. I'm thankful for being fortunate enough to not only have food on the table at all, but also to be able to make mindful decisions about my consumption.
This being a primarily omnivorous feast, there was an array of non-vegan fare typical of a Thanksgiving gathering. I'll share with you the vegan assortment.
Roasted butternut squash salad
I adapted this recipe from 101 Cookbooks, using butternut squash instead of pumpkin, and agave nectar instead of honey. For the cilantro-haters at the table, I replaced the herb with fresh parsley and thyme. I didn't blend the dressing with seeds or nuts to make it creamy, instead adding a handful of sliced, toasted almonds for crunch. Red pepper flakes contributed the slightest bit of heat to the sweet, savory, tangy salad.
This soup was delicious--a hearty, warm, and comforting dish to help guard oneself against the autumn chill. I very slightly adapted The Clean Eating Mama's recipe, omitting the celery (I had none on hand), adding chopped leeks and red pepper flakes, and replacing the dried herbs with fresh thyme. The soup simmered for only 40 minutes, just until the potatoes and lentils were cooked through, because I didn't want them too soft. Both texture and flavor were perfect. Store-bought, artisan Mediterranean olive bread helped to clean out my bowl.
I like to cook kale simply, often defaulting to the basic method of sauteeing sliced onion and garlic before adding chopped kale and some sort of liquid to braise the greens. I used vegetable broth and orange juice this time, which contributed good flavor. Sorry, I didn't get a chance to snap a photo, so just imagine a bowl of cooked leafy greens.
Two more savory vegan dishes were available, courtesy of other guests: a wonderful Brussels sprouts salad, made with toasted pecans and flavored with black truffle oil; and a flavorful spinach salad, tossed with an orange-sesame dressing and studded with sliced almonds and dried cherries and cranberries.
For dessert, the party who volunteered to bring dessert thoughtfully included a small, raw vegan "punkin pie mousse" especially for me. It was creamy and sweet, tasting just like pumpkin pie filling. I also treated myself to non-dairy, coconut milk-based chocolate ice cream and Ina Garten's French Chocolate Bark, a simple but rich candy that I made vegan-friendly by using non-dairy chocolate.
It was definitely a lovely meal--one that will no doubt linger for many days, as we have a large amount of food leftover.