Tell VT: What's Your Signature Thanksgiving Dish? | Vegetarian Times Skip to main content

Tell VT: What's Your Signature Thanksgiving Dish?

Tell VT: What's Your Signature Thanksgiving Dish?

A Greens Thanksgiving

Tell VT: What’s your signature Thanksgiving dish, and why is it special? Share your answer below and see what others have to say.


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My mom's turnip and apple bake. It's simple, delicious, and quintessentially fall, and it's just the perfect dish - light and fluffy rather than starchy and heavy, with a satisfyingly crunchy breadcrumb topping, and wonderfully balanced flavour. The turnip is earthy and bracingly bitter, while the apple is surprising and bright, harmonized by the rich notes of the butter and eggs. No fall or winter feast is complete without it.

Slightly steamed green beans with sun dried cranberries and feta cheese.

Every year, I make the Thanksgiving Roasted Vegetable Cornucopias Sometimes I fill them with the roasted vegetables, but I've also started playing around with dessert fillings like roasted apples and cranberries and pumpkin ice cream.

Here in the Southwest we like to add a little "Native" spice to our Thanksgiving dinners. My favorite dish is Calabacitas made with squash, corn and green chili. It's a great mix of flavors and color. I also like pumpkin soup with a generous douse of green chili....YUM!

Classic mashed potatoes - my mom's family is Irish, so I learned how to make creamy and fluffy mashed potatoes when I was tiny. They may not be low-cal, but they taste like love...Thanksgiving wouldn't be the same without them!

For three generations, my family has loved and faithfully serves Jellied Orange Carrot salad made with a packet of orange jello, grated carrot, chopped celery, onion, parsley with a shot of vinegar and salt and pepper in it, Yum Yum!!!, only at Thanksgiving time... but my friend, Janet, who I often invite to join, us gags at the sight of it... on account of she doesn't like anything chopped up in little bits... says it reminds her of when she was two and used to stuff peas up her nose... now who's weird here???

When I went vegetarian 3 years ago, I served my first Tofurkey with all the trimmings to my family. Everyone liked it, except for my grown son who refused to try it because it sounded "icky." Last year my husband went vegetarian. We bought a few tofurkeys when they went on sale last Thanksgiving so we could have roasted "turkey" during the year. This summer, my son and his wife went vegetarian, too. I bet he tries the Tofurkey this year!

Roasted brussel sprouts with a maple glaze and hazelnut. No left overs with that side dish!

Our family has been making a cauliflower gratin that has been on the table for the last 10 years. Not many people request cauliflower (especially with all the starch on the table), but this recipe is a winner. It will convert even the biggest hater of the vegetable.

Fresh cranberry sauce, it is so good and it's super easy to make. Just pour some fresh cranberries into a pot with some simple syrup and simmer. It's nice change from the canned jelly they sell at the market!

Pumpkin Pear and Cheddar Soup This recipe was first prepared for me when pregnant with my first son. The aroma is seasonal and sweet. It is incredibly easy to prepare, absolutely delicious and nutritious! After each Thanksgiving I get multiple requests for the recipe!

There are so many wonderful dishes served at Thanksgiving! My favorite would have to be mashed butternut squash served with my grandmother's green tomato pickles. Divine! I have the recipe for the green tomato pickles if you want to try it.

Apple shallot stuffing! My brother and his wife always request it.

Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Soup...make it with fresh orange juice, a dash of maple syrup and spices, and you have a warm dish that satisfies every time. Of course, for thanksgiving, you must have a thick, fresh cranberry of my favorites is made with fresh oranges and diced apples and the other is made with scads of nutmeg. Yum!

Sweet Potato Casserole, soft and sweet inside with crunchy topping. Wonderful dish always prepared in our southern kitchen! This is the one dish that all our kids and grands agree the table cannot do without.

Believe it or not it is a simple Sweet Potato Puree/Mash. I simply bake/roast it in the oven then mash it with a salt, pepper and a bit of butter (olive oil is also good), add a bit of unsweetened soy milk as needed for creaminess and fluffiness. My husband and my son request this every year for thanksgiving in place of regular mashed potatoes, it is a simple but very comforting side dish - and no need for any extra sugar added too, sweet potatoes are nature's candy all by itself!

Every year I make roasted butternut squash with red onions, fresh sage and apples. The cubed squash is hearty & sweet in the oven, and a welcome texture next to mashed potatoes.

My most requested Thanksgiving dish is my cornbread stuffing. It's not difficult to make, but it is so goood. It uses toasted cornbread cubes along with a box of Savory herb stuffing. It has caramlized onions and apples along with pecans and celery. Then instead of broth or water to wet the mixture, I use apple juice. This dish just tastes like fall.

My "Everything-but-the-turkey" salad is a great hit. With all the heavy dishes at the table, a salad is always welcome and this one has everything in it. To mixed baby greens I add roasted cubes of pumpkin (or butternut squash), corn nuts, cooked lime beans, dried cranberries and sugared pecans. The dressing is maple syrup vinaigrette. We never have any leftovers!

My husband's fresh homemade cranberry sauce and my Shepherd's Pie!

My signature vegan Thanksgiving dish would be my mashed potatoes topped with spicy nappa cabbage - it's hearty and comforting!

My fave Thanksgiving dish is the "Wild Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Shepherd's Pies" from the Nov/Dec 2010 VT issue. I veganized it by substituting soy milk for the cream, Smart Balance for the butter, leaving out the parmesan cheese (or maybe I added a little PARMA) and replacing the grated Asiago cheese w/a little shredded vegan cheese. I purchased small baking rings just for this. It is so incredibly "special" looking. Talk about presentation! I served it with the "Mushroom-Pinot Noir Sauce," veganizing that recipe as well. My foodie daughter/son-in-law were very impressed!

Stuffing! I start saving ends of loaves of bread in August, tossing them in a bag in the freezer. Rye, sourdough, multigrain, cracked wheat, it all goes in together to be used on Thanksgiving. I use "Scarborough Faire" herbs-all fresh and organic-parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. I saute chopped onion, minced garlic, sliced celery, and one finely minced carrot with an Earth Balance buttery stick, then add the minced herbs when the kitchen smells wonderful. While they cook, I slice the thawed breads in my largest pan. Pour the veggies over the bread, add some veg broth, and bake for an hour, covered except for the last 15 minutes. It's so good that people start asking if I'll be making it in September. I now bring a batch into work the last day before Thanksgiving vacation. It's just a wonderful dish, and very traditional.

Cheryl Kay, you do know that jello is an animal product, made from animal hooves and bones, right?

Since it just my husband and kids every year, I try to make some special foods to make the day, and meal, memorable. A few years ago I started making mashed potatoes with carmelized onions and sage that is just so delicious. I also make cranberry dressing from fresh cranberries and Grand Marnier. Now I cannot wait until Thanksgiving!

Mustacholis - it's actually not easy to find the mustacholi noodle any more, but a noodle w/ a hole will work as long as I make my 1/2 Italian grandmother's tomato sauce using olive oil instead of bacon grease. Growing up, we always knew it was Thanksgiving when we smelled the sauce and it's one item I make sure to include each year.

Homemade seitan in mushroom gravy--it is hearty, filling, and takes much less time than cooking a turkey! Even the carnivores like it.

The new favorite is Tempeh smeared and sautee'd with Coconut Cream and Fennel -- a recipe from Chef Raghavan Iyer. Seasoning includes garlic, dried red Thai chilies, fennel seed, salt, black mustard seed, cardamom seed, canola oil, coconut milk and cilantro. It's brings heat and comfort together with little effort, and the tremendous flavors easily define a Thanksgiving centerpiece around which pumpkin bread with dates and pecans, chestnut soup, mashed Yukon potatoes,green beans with almonds and more are stand outs.

My Dad's roasted brussels sprouts slathered in a white cheddar cream sauce. My sister and I demand them annually and even though my mom hates brussels sprouts, she eats them with a smile in the spirit of the holidays.

I became a vegetarian when I was 12, and my parents thought it was a phase. I survived on cheese sandwiches and side dishes for awhile before my Dad got worried about my nutrition and subscribed to VT. After that we spent each Thanksgiving picking out a special recipe to cook together so that I always had a special meal too. We quickly learned to make a lot and make sure I got my share first, because my family usually enjoyed my veggie dish too!

Even before I went vegetarian at the age of 11, my favourite dish on the Thanksgiving table was always my mom's fluffy, creamy turnip and apple bake, with its unusual flavour combination balancing tangy and sweet apples with earthy, slightly bitter turnip. An unusual kid who loved vegetables, I looked forward to that dish every year. It was never the most popular dish on the table and I usually got most of it to myself, but whenever my mom said she might not bother with it this time I'd insist that she had to - it wasn't Thanksgiving without the turnip and apple bake! Eventually I learned to make it myself, and it was one of the first dishes I ever learned to cook. It became my regular contribution to the Thanksgiving table after that. I still make it every year.

Our signature dish is our tofu "turkey". It really is divine. The recipe we use involves pressing the tofu against a strainer, filling with stuffing and spices, and then.... flipping it over! The reason it's so special is because each year my now 5 year old daughter and I work closely together to make it, ending with literally holding our breath, crossing our fingers and toes while turning it over, each time hoping it "stays together" - then jumping up and down with joy when it actually does what it's supposed to!

This is an interesting question as even my American friends will ask what our vegetarian family eats for Thanksgiving. Now that we are living in Germany and hosting an "American Thanksgiving" for our German friends this adds a new layer of interest from a cultural perspective. We have many favorites, but as the only vegetarian family in our extended family gatherings, I always bring a soup, hot vegetable dish and a green salad. Our favorites are primarily VT recipes and include: Spicy Sun Dried Tomato Soup with White Beans and Swiss Chard, Roasted Root Vegetables, Brussels Sprouts with Cranberry and Walnuts, stuffed acorn squash (there was a beautiful new Wild Rice-Stuffed Pumpkin recipe VT Oct. 2012 that I can't wait to serve) and a sweet potato, butternut squash with fresh ginger "mashed potato" recipe that we make every year. There are very rarely left-overs!

This one got rave reviews last year!

The parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme gravy is the best gravy I tasted. Can't wait to have it for thanksgiving.

Spinach spoon bread...Lovely! It is simply creamed pearl onions and chopped spinach mixed into a basic corn bread recipe. When it comes out of the oven there is a sweet grainy corn bread with a somewhat custardy texture. The spinach and pearl onions in the mix add interesting texture, and the flavor is divine! Our family favorite :-)

cranberry, cherry pie with lattice crust Yum!

My favorite Thanksgiving dish has to be my grandmothers sage dressing. Growing up it was the one dish I really looked forward to every year. She passed away many years ago, but I still make her stuffing every Thanksgiving and remember her with love.