13 Plant-Based Thanksgiving Mains to WOW Your Guests
Thanksgiving is all about reconnecting with loved ones and expressing gratitude for our many blessings. But who are we kidding—it’s mostly about the food. People are happiest when eating, which is why there’s no better way to spend time with relatives than sitting around the dinner table.
However, assembling the ultimate festive meal is no simple task, especially when you have a number of dietary preferences and lifestyles to take into account.
This Monday, think outside the box of stuffing and cook an autumnal meat-free dish that takes advantage of all those seasonal fruits and vegetables. Whether it’s an autumn vegetable paella, pumpkin stuffed shells, a fall vegetable curry, or a roasted garlic parsnip shepherd’s pie, you’ll find cooking meat-free will inspire your creativity and lead to mouth-watering results.
Paella isn’t technically traditional Thanksgiving fare, but this recipe from In My Bowl is packed with seasonal ingredients like fennel, Brussel sprouts, butternut squash, and meatless sausage to give the dish a holiday feel. Paella is best served family-style, so why not debut it at the Thanksgiving feast?
For the Autumn Vegetable Paella recipe from In My Bowl, click here.
A fun and funky spin on the classic mashed potato, this layered Caribbean lentil potato bake from Kirly-Sue’s Kitchen will wow your guests with its warm, Indian-inspired flavors. Turmeric, garam masala, coconut milk, cumin, and fresh ginger come together to create something that looks like a potato casserole but tastes totally different. For the Caribbean Lentil Potato Bake recipe Susanne Kirlew of Kirly-Sue’s Kitchen, click here.
After a few minutes into the Thanksgiving meal, everyone at the table will be looking for some relief from all that richness. This cherry tomato cobbler is the perfect counterpoint: it’s light, bright, and tangy, thanks to copious amounts of onions, cherry tomatoes, and fresh thyme. This recipe calls for Cheddar cheese and butter, but you can easily substitute a non-dairy variety to make this meal totally plant-based. For the Cherry Tomato Cobbler recipe, click here.
Nothing says comfort like meatloaf, which is why it always has a place at the holiday dinner table. This plant-based version is made from tofu, lentils, and rolled oats, but still manages to deliver those classic flavors and satisfyingly-firm texture, thanks to the use of ketchup, barbecue sauce, and Dijon mustard. For the Classic Tofu Loaf recipe from Chef Ayinde Howell, click here.
If you’re already planning to serve sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and squash in Thanksgiving side dishes, you can easily incorporate them into the main courses, too, like this vegetable curry from Ellie Krieger. The recipe calls for coconut milk, ginger, curry powder, and cilantro, non-traditional ingredients that can help add diversity to the menu. For the Fall Vegetable Curry recipe, click here.
To make a traditional Wellington involves wrapping an animal protein—either beef or paté—in puff pastry, then baking until golden brown. This vegetarian- and vegan-friendly version created by Delicious Everyday, replaces the meat component with Portobello mushrooms and caramelized onions. The puff pastry gets its dramatic golden sheen from a vegan egg wash consisting of aquafaba (chickpea water), nut milk, a bit of oil, and some maple syrup. For the Mushroom Wellington recipe from Delicious Everyday, click here.
This pumpkin-sage lasagna is a unique autumn spin on a classic comfort food, so you’ll have no trouble appeasing the crowd while still delivering traditional Thanksgiving flavors. You can make the recipe completely plant-based by using vegan goat cheese and mozzarella alternatives. For the Pumpkin-Sage Goat Cheese Lasagna recipe from The Salty Tomato, click here.
A platter of stuffed squash always makes for a visually engaging centerpiece. Although it looks labor intensive, constructing the dish is actually pretty simple. Just cut your squash in half and scrape out the seeds, before roasting until fork tender. While that’s roasting, start making your rice-mushroom-quinoa mixture. Add in rosemary and cranberries for some Thanksgiving flare and spoon into your squash. For the Quinoa and Mushroom Stuffed Squash recipe from Goya, click here.
Impress guests (or yourself) with these super-simple roasted cauliflower steaks. All you need to do is cut a whole head of cauliflower into one-inch slices, rub with a light coating of oil, and sprinkle with your favorite spice blend. After 20-25 minutes in the oven, you’ll have beautiful golden slabs of cauliflower, which can be served alongside a salad or starch. For the Roasted Cauliflower Steaks recipe, click here.
Bring some comfort food to the Thanksgiving table with this meat-free version of shepherd’s pie. Fresh sage, tamari, white beans, spinach and a mirepoix of vegetables give the dish a light, herbaceous flavor. The roasted garlic parsnip puree that goes on top adds creaminess and a subtle sweetness to each bite. For the Roasted Garlic Parsnip Spinach Shepherd’s Pie recipe, click here.
Stuffed shells are appropriate for any occasion, but when they’re loaded with a creamy blend of pumpkin, tofu, and kale, they’re a natural fit for your Thanksgiving table. And the best part is that you can whip them up fairly quickly. Just cook the shells, stuff them with your tofu/pumpkin mixture, pour in a little tomato sauce, and bake until heated and bubbly. For the Stuffed Shells with Pumpkin Kale Filling recipe, click here.
Feeling ambitious this holiday season? Try making this homemade vegan mushroom ravioli from Gourmandelle. The dough comes together quickly, requiring just four ingredients: flour, water, olive oil, and salt. The filling is an umami-rich mixture of chopped onion, garlic, button mushrooms, and fresh thyme. Top the fresh ravioli with a creamy garlic sauce, and you’ll have everyone looking right past the turkey. For the Vegan Mushroom Ravioli recipe from Gourmandelle, click here.
Pot pie has everything you want in a comfort food: creamy filling, crispy topping, and a heart-warming flavor. This vegetable pot pie with biscuit topping from Sharon Palmer is a yummy vegetarian alternative that is loaded with so many ingredients that no two bites are ever the same.
For the Vegetable Pot Pie with Whole Wheat Biscuit Topping recipe from Sharon Palmer, click here.
Click here for more Meatless Monday recipes. When posting pictures of recipes to your social media network, tag @MeatlessMonday use #MeatlessMonday to show the plant-based community your creation.