Photos by Rikki Snyder
Being the lone vegetarian in a family of carnivores on Thanksgiving can be, well, hard. Everyone tries to make it seem like it’s not a big deal and reminds you that you can at least eat the side dishes! Until, that is, it comes to light that the mashed potatoes contain chicken broth, the green bean casserole is made with pancetta, and the stuffing is dotted with bacon.
“But it’s really not that much bacon,” your cousin offers as reassurance.
At least we’ll always have cranberry sauce.
This year, let’s take matters into our own hands and make a totally vegetarian Thanksgiving feast with all kinds of plant-based delicious.
The first task at hand is to decide what the main dish will be. Whenever I’m cooking for a room full of non-vegetarians, I try to avoid using any imitation meat products. It sounds a bit counter-intuitive, but even though Tofurkey may taste meaty to those of us who haven’t eaten animal protein in years, those who eat meat every day are definitely going to be able to taste the difference. Instead, I like to make things that are naturally meat-free so that they will not be written off as a less-delicious version of something else, but rather appreciated in their own right. In years past, I’ve dabbled in savory tarts, hearty salads and cheesy casseroles, but this year I’ve decided to learn how to strudel.
Strudels are Austrian pastries with layers of crust rolled up with a filling, usually sweet (think apple strudel), but occasionally savory. As much as I love eating dessert for dinner, I decided to go the savory route for our Thanksgiving main dish. Between sweet, smoky roasted root veggies, earthy lentils, nutty pesto and creamy goat cheese, this vegetable strudel is filled with a mix of textures and flavors that all come together to taste like fall. And really, what more could you ask of your Thanksgiving dinner?
Even though it seems like there is a lot going on here, don’t freak out! Most of the filling components can be made ahead of time, so on Turkey Day (Strudel Day), all you’ll have to do is pull them from the fridge, roll them up in a phyllo crust and bake for 20 minutes, leaving you more time to focus on everything else that needs to spend time in the oven—and hopefully leaving you with a few free to minutes to stop and smell the strudel in the oven.Print this recipe
The roasted root vegetables, lentils, and pecan pesto can all be made ahead of time. Just store them in the fridge until you are ready to stuff and roll your strudel!
Phyllo dough can be a bit finicky, but the trick to make it easy to work with is to make sure it stays moist. Drape a damp cloth over the sheets whenever you are not actively using them.
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