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Vegan Planet: Vegan Thanksgiving Hotline

Monday, November 7, 2011


Vegan Thanksgiving Hotline

With Thanksgiving just over two weeks away, I've been trying to decide what kind of post would be most appreciated by everyone.  A quick check of my blog will reveal that I'm partial to pumpkin cheesecake -- especially the version I made last year with the streusel topping -- yum!  I've been making pumpkin cheesecakes every year for nearly three decades, so I have lots to say on the subject.

Then there's my favorite Thanksgiving main dish: stuffed seitan.  Over the years, I've made it with and without a pastry crust, I've used a variety of different stuffings and sauces, and I've made it into individual servings like this:

I could give you a recipe for sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, or cranberry sauce -- but you may already have your own favorite.  Maybe you'd like some ideas for a Thanksgiving menu -- my Party Vegan cookbook contains two of them -- complete with recipes for each course.

Rather than deciding on my own, I think the best ones to ask about what to post for Thanksgiving are the people who read my blog.  So, tell me, what would you most like to see in a pre-Thanksgiving blog post?  The suggestion that turns up in the comments the most will be the topic of my next post.

At the same time, I'll do my best to answer any Thanksgiving food questions you might have -- so let's call this the "Vegan Thanksgiving Hotline"!

Let's hear your questions, comments, and suggestions about Thanksgiving.  The lines are open....


That stuffed seitan looks so good. I looked in my copy of 1000 Vegan Recipes and saw a recipe for stuffed seitan roast but it doesn't mention the pastry shell. Do you bake the seitan for awhile before wrapping it in the pastry? And is that phyllo dough?
Hi Veganhomemaker, Sometimes I wrap the entire seitan roast in pastry, other times, I do not. The photo shows individual servings of seitan and stuffing wrapped in pastry.The recipe is on p. 314 of 1,000 Vegan Recipes. Yes, the seitan and the stuffing, must be precooked, and then chilled or at least brought to room temperature before wrapping in thawed puff pastry. (For something similar, see the Pastry-Wrapped Portobellos on p. 331 of 1,000VR).
I'd love to find a way to use the Seitan that you buy already made - I am able to get a hold of the West Soy brand. Do you have any recipes where I can take advantage of this?

Also, my husband isn't a big fan of pumpkin, or squashes, or sauted onions,or sweet potatoes, or mushrooms (and I am a HUGE fan :( all these things spell fall for me!)
How to put a smile on his face with side dishes?
Hi Ilanica, Actually the best recipe to use packaged seitan may be the one described above (seitan en croute, p. 314 of 1000 VR). If you don't have the book, you can find the recipe on -- click through the link on the right side of my blog near the bottom called "Robin's 2009 Thanksgiving Feast" -- just slice the packaged seitan thinly and arrange it on the pastry.
As for side dishes, find out what your husband DOES like and make that for him, and then make what you like for you! Also, maybe try some of those ingredients prepared a different way -- roasted sweet potato fries, for example...
I'd love your favorite gluten free holiday recipes. Karen
robin, i would love a hearty dish that is satisfying all by itself when taken to a traditional thanksgiving dinner. that way i don't have to take my entire dinner with me.


I would love some ideas on a really delicious gravy!
I would love to see the recipe for stuffed seitan with the pastry shell, stuffing, cranberry sauce, vegan cheesy broccoli, sour cream and onion whipped potatoes, sweet potato souffle, and that pumpkin cheesecake with a streusel topping. Oh yes, and a good vegan gravy. You have never published a bad recipe yet so I am really eager to see your holiday recipes. I have been discussing this very thing with my fellow members of the Vegan Cookbooks group on Goodreads.
I don't really make traditional Thanksgiving food much - I've never really liked it. Instead, I choose a cuisine and go with that. I don't know what to make this year though, would you mind suggesting something? That would be a lot of fun. The only thing it can't be is Thai, because I have some Thai-food haters in the family.
Obviously being Australian and living in Australia, Thanksgiving is not part of my cultural landscape, but I love the idea of the food of it all. Though I am continually perplexed by why anyone would put marshmallows on sweet potato. ;)

There is an online shop in Australia that sells American food, and they are having a special on tinned pumpkin (which I cannot buy in supermarkets), so even though it is completely not the season for it, I look forward to making lots of pumpkin things this summer!
Karen, My favorite gluten-free main dish for Thanksgiving is the Stuffed Winter Squash made with a brown rice and gluten-free bread stuffing. It's especially good made with a kabocha squash and makes a lovely centerpiece on a Thanksgiving table. For the recipe, follow the link for "Robin's 2009 Thanksgiving Feast" found in the right-hand column of this blog.
Assuming you want something that tastes like "Thanksgiving" -- how about making yourself a Thanksgiving pot pie or shepherd's pie? Just cook up some chopped carrots, onion, etc., add some frozen peas and corn kernels. Mix with some diced seitan (or tofu--or cooked white beans or chickpeas, if you prefer. Combine with some rich brown gravy and spoon into a small casserole. Top with mashed potatoes (or a crust) and bake.
Here's a good basic (and easy) gravy recipe. You can add some red wine or a fortified wine such as marsala or madiera to make it special, or use mushroom broth for all or part of the broth. You can also add sliced or chopped mushrooms for a mushroom gravy.

Rich Brown Gravy
11/2 cups vegetable broth
11/2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon browning sauce (such as Gravy master)
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup plain unsweetened nondairy milk
In a small saucepan, combine the broth, soy sauce, browning sauce, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, whisk in the cornstarch mixture and stir until the sauce thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the nondairy milk. Do not to boil. Taste to adjust the seasonings before serving.
Makes about 2 cups
Thanks for the ideas for Thanksgiving recipes to include in my post. In the meantime, some of the recipes you describe are already posted on "Robin's 2009 Thanksgiving Feast" on (just follow the link on my blog).
Hi Legolandpenguin, I'd suggest making something that feels like a "centerpiece" dish, like a nice big lasagna or a pan of stuffed shells, accompanied by roasted veggies and a nice green salad. Or maybe a Moroccan meal -- a bisteeya (a celebratory savory pie), or a tagine, with a nice vegetable couscous. Maybe served with stuffed dates, and warm flatbread.
Hi Susan,
Believe me, you're not the only one perplexed by the marshmallow-sweet potato thing. Yikes. I hope you have fun making some pumpkin recipes. There sure are a lot of them! My favorite is pumpkin cheesecake. But there's also pumpkin bread, pie, muffins, etc. And for savory choices, there's pumpkin soup, pumpkin hummus, and an easy 10-minute pumpkin pasta sauce with sage and walnuts in Vegan on the Cheap. Can't wait to hear what you make!
Could you please share your favorite version of pumkin cheesecake? I'd really like to wow my omnivorous family with a spectacular vegan dessert. Pumkin cheesecake is something that I know we would all enjoy!
Thanks : )
Sounds good to me, Tara! Look for the cheesecake recipe soon!
Hi: I'd love to see a recipe for a Thanksgiving main dish that isn't a meat substitute but has a WOW factor in the presentation department. (I'm leaning toward something pastry wrapped, but not too pie-like.) Although your butternut squash chili is amazing- I'm considering that as our contribution to the potluck we're going to. Although chili for Thanksgiving? I don't know; I'm torn. (But it is so YUMMY!!) (But then again we have it all the time when bn squash is in season, and the Thanksgiving main should be something we don't have regularly...) You see my dilemma!! (As long as I'm making wishes, something soy free too since I'm soy intolerant.) ;)
I gave up on pumpkin pie several years ago because I could never get it to set properly. Maybe you could give a recipe for a pumpkin pie that works? I live in a country where I have to make my own pumpkin puree, there is no canned available. I know you are a pumpkin cheesecake enthusiast, but I would have to make the cream cheese, make the ginger cookies to crumble- it becomes too many steps when nothing is available pre-made.
Kim, Nothing says "wow factor" like a huge stuffed kabocha squash on a big platter. Even better when surrounded by roasted vegetables. Otherwise, something in a large casserole like a Thanksgiving-ish Shepherd's pie -- just because you've got your mashed potatoes, gravy, and veggies, all going on. If you don't want to use seitan, just go with cooked lentils in it. Another idea is to "dress up" your favorite vegan meatloaf -- maybe add some extra sage and thyme to the mix, then cook it, cool it down, and wrap it in pastry. That way you have a festive pastry-wrapped main dish.
Anonymous, your pumpkin pie probably didn't set because the fresh pumpkin was too watery. When using fresh pumpkin be sure to roast it (not boil it) until tender, then puree it and then strain the puree in cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer to remove any additional liquid. I'd also then use less liquid in the filling, perhaps adding some thick cashew cream to the filling.
Thanks for the great ideas!! The stuffed kabocha squash sounds perfect. I have a PS to my original comment, too- the butternut squash chili I mentioned is actually your Black Bean and Butternut Chili from the Halloween Boo-ffet menu on page 224 in Party Vegan. Soooooo good!!! We had it yesterday for lunch. It's too yummy to save for Halloween!
I would love a green bean casserole recipe--gluten free if possible!

I have a question! What kind of bread do you recommend for making stuffing from you fresh from the vegetarian slow cooker book?

I am hoping to make the Wild Mushroom Stuffing for Thanksgiving :)
A bisteeya sounds perfect - thanks for the suggestion!
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