In our modern times, many of the friends and family who gather around our table at Thanksgiving come with opposing food preferences: some worship the almighty bird, while others take a pass. An intense dislike or moral issues about eating animals, leave them wanting nothing to do with Mr. Tom Turkey.
For home cooks, this creates a Thanksgiving dilemma: how do you make a meal that pleases everyone--carnivores and vegetarians, not to mention those who are vegan. This time-crunched holiday is stressful enough without making different dishes for different people. But, at the same time, you want everyone to feel included.
Here are two recipes that will make life easier because even though you’re roasting a turkey and vegetarians or vegans are among your guests, everyone can at least enjoy the same gravy and stuffing.
Vegetarian Mushroom Thyme Gravy has been adapted from a recipe submitted by free-lance baker, sticks n’ scones, on the popular blog, Food52.com <http://Food52.com> . Interestingly, it won top prize in the blog’s best gravy contest beating out many traditional turkey-based entries. I’m not surprized after making this gravy for my family; my meat-loving father lapped it up as if it were soup.
The beauty of this recipe is that it can be made a day in advance therefore eliminating the last minute hassle of whipping up a gravy from turkey pan dripping. In fact, it’s better made ahead of time because the flavours intensify. I used a mix of dried morel and oyster mushrooms but any kind of edible dried mushroom works. To accommodate vegans, substitute olive oil for the butter and additional vegetable stock for the cream.
Vegetarian Sourdough Stuffing is a recipe of my own and adapts well to different ingredients. If apple, mushrooms and walnuts aren’t to your liking, think about using pears, dried fruit and other kinds of nuts. The recipe can easily be doubled for larger gathering.
Cooking stuffing outside the turkey in a separate pan allows the bird to cook faster and more evenly, reducing our risk of being exposed to food-borne illnesses. According to Health Canada, stuffing is an ideal place for bacteria to grow: it’s moist and slow to heat up and cool down. All stuffing, whether cooked separately or inside the turkey, should be heated to a minimum internal temperature of 74°C (165°F).
Vegetarian Mushroom Thyme Gravy
makes 2 1/2 cups
What You Need:
1/2 cup dried mushrooms
2 cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small shallot, finely minced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup light cream (6% M.F.)
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon dry sherry (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
What To Do:
Place dried mushrooms in a small bowl. Bring vegetable stock to the boil and pour over mushrooms. Let steep for 20 minutes. Remove mushrooms from stock, mince and set aside. Don’t add back to stock. Reserve stock for later.
Over medium heat, melt butter and saute shallots in a medium-sized saucepan until they’re translucent (about 5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper while cooking. Add flour and stir continuously until flour is well incorporated into butter and shallots. Stir mixture and cook for 3 minutes to make sure gravy doesn’t have a raw flour flavour. Lower heat if mixture begins to burn.
Using a whisk, gradually add the reserved vegetable stock (leaving dried mushroom sediment behind) to the butter-four mixture. Whisk continuously until liquid is smooth. Raise heat to medium high and cook, while whisking occasionally, until sauce begins to come to the boil and thickens.
Turn heat down to medium and whisk in cream, soy sauce, thyme, reserved mushrooms and sherry (if using). Continue to cook for another few minutes until gravy is heated through. Adjust seasoning according to taste.
Vegetarian Sourdough Stuffing
makes about six cups
What You Need:
1/2 large loaf sourdough bread
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for oiling baking pan.
2 medium celery stalks, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium apple, peeled, cored and diced
3 large button mushrooms, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup vegetable stock
What To Do:
Preheat oven to 250 F. Cut bread into one-inch cubes without removing crust. Evenly spread cubed bread out on large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, tossing cubes after 10 minutes. Let cool and transfer to large mixing bowl. Increase oven temperature to 350 F.
Over medium-high, heat olive oil in large non-stick skillet and saute onion and celery until tender (about five minutes). Season with salt, pepper and ground sage. Add apple and mushrooms and cook another three minutes. Remove from heat and add fresh parsley and thyme.
Transfer to large bowl with bread cubes, add walnuts and mix well. Gradually add stock and combine well until bread is lightly moistened and ingredients begin to stick together. If you like your stuffing on the drier side you’ll probably only need half the amount of the stock.
Evenly press stuffing mixture into oiled baking pan. Choose a pan that allows the spread stuffing to be no more than two to three inches deep. At this point, stuffing can be kept refrigerated for several hours until needed.When ready to bake, bring to room temperature and bake for 30 to 45 minutes.
Linda Watts is a registered dietitian. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org