Thanksgiving is approaching faster than you can say “pilgrim.” Okay, maybe not quite that fast, but it’s definitely sneaking up on us quickly! And that means it’s time to start thinking about your Thanksgiving feast!
Being vegetarian growing up, people ALWAYS asked me what I did for Thanksgiving. It was apparently incomprehensible that it was possible to have a turkey-less celebration. The questions kept coming – “Do you make an exception for Thanksgiving?” “Um, no…” “Do you get a vegetarian turkey?” “Um, no…” “Oh, is your vegetarian turkey made out of tofu?” “Um, we don’t have a vegetarian turkey…” “Wait, really? Wait, what does vegetarian turkey taste like, anyway?” At which point, I’d normally give up, sigh, and tell them that it tasted just like regular turkey minus the dead bird.
What I failed to communicate to those pesky questioners is that in our household (and in many meat-eating households I’ve been to), Thanksgiving is not about the turkey. It’s all about the sides. If you can call them sides — big, beautiful, hearty, casseroles; luscious, richly-prepared mashes; vegetables upon vegetables upon vegetables. And pie, of course. Lots of pie. And maybe some chocolate pudding too.
While I’m not vegan (and you’ll know that quite well if you made my buttery cookies from last week), I wanted to post a vegan Thanksgiving recipe because I’m sure that vegans get the endless questioning ten times worse. “Mashed potatoes without butter? Really? No cheese at all? I don’t get it – what do you eat?” Sigh.
Anyway, speaking of mashed potatoes, I’ve decided to go classic here. This is a Thanksgiving twist on vegetarian shepherd’s pie – the “meat” layer is composed of a savory mushroom/lentil mixture, with some pumpkin and sage thrown in for good measure. A bit of chopped carrot adds some crunch. Finally, it’s topped with a yukon gold mash and baked to perfection.