How to… prepare a Vegan Thanksgiving feast

“Well this turkey ate a vegan diet, so you can eat him, right?” Shut up and Eat My Gravy

written and photographed by Ilenia Pezzaniti

Much has changed since the first Thanksgiving in 1621. Instead of catching fowl and wild turkeys, most Americans fill grocery carts with large, headless, naked turkeys–later scooping their guts out, leaving their cages empty for chunks of seasoned bread filling.

If you’re anything like me, you wouldn’t have eaten the fowl or the wild turkeys. You won’t even eat the headless, naked bird your mom brings home every year from Acme. But you will eat all the cheesy, buttery, mashed potatoes your Aunt Shari makes. All of them. And then you’ll fall asleep on the couch, belly up, nursing your greasy, artery clogging potato baby.

Except this year. It’s 2015, and we’ve got amazing homemade vegan substitutes for pretty much everything. Using recipes from famous vegan chef Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Angela Liddon, I present to you a six-course (mostly) delicious meatless meal for those who get pissed when they can’t eat the gravy because it was cooked in bird juice. Let me first state, I am no chef but I enjoy cooking good food, and I’m the kind of gal who eats the crumbs lost in the abyss of her shirt (aka, I really love food). Without further adieu, I present my 4.5 star roommate-rated efforts:

Mashed Taters
Gravy, Baby!
Green bean Mushroom Casserole
Seitan Roast
Pumpkin Pie with Coconut Whipped Cream

If you’re anything like me (again), when a recipe calls for any type of alcohol, you drink the rest of the bottle (so as not to waste, of course). I would suggest skipping this part because you’re going to be in the kitchen for seven hours, and by hour five, you’ll get tired of rewashing the measuring cups and spoons, and you’ll use your glazed eyes as “good enough” measurements, which is probably why the roast is Satan (not seitan! Also why I did not receive a 1/2 star more) and you’ll forget the butter in the microwave so the pie crust is a bit… err… crusty. But somehow everything will manage to taste pretty damn good. I’ll bet you’ll make the roast better than I did!

P.s. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you’ll most likely have most of these items already on hand, which is good, because if not, this can get expensive.

MashedTatersMashed Taters
Serves 6-8

What you’ll need:
3 pounds yukon gold potatoes
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk at room temp
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt (plus more for the water)
Several dashes fresh black pepper

What you’ll do:
Cut potatoes into small chunks. Place in a pot and cover with cold water. Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt into the water. Cover and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 12 minutes, until fork tender. Drain potatoes, then place back in the pot. Mash them just enough to get them broken up. Add milk, oil, salt and pepper and mash until fluffy (I would use a handheld beater). You may want to add a bit more milk, if needed (I did!).

Adapted from:

Gravy, BabyGravy, Baby!
Serves 8

Okay, beware: this stuff rocks! I’ve missed gravy dearly. Please soak your mouth in the deliciousness that is this gravy. (P.s. I’m not even a real big fan of mushrooms, that’s how good this is!)

What you’ll need:
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
2 Tablespoons olive oil
16 oz cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced and chopped (I only used 12oz)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoons salt
Several dashes fresh black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine (Isa recommends chardonnay. I bought mine for under $4 at Mustard Seed!)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

What you’ll do:
In a medium bowl, mix the flour with 2 cups of vegetable broth until well dissolved. Once dissolved, add the remaining broth and mix. Set aside.
Preheat a 2 quart pot over medium heat. Saute the onion in oil for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add mushrooms, garlic, thyme, sage, salt and pepper and saute for 5 more minutes.
Add wine and turn heat up to bring to a boil. Let wine reduce for about 3 minutes. Add the broth/flour mix and the nutritional yeast, if using (I suggest to use it!). Lower heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes, stirring often.

Adapted from:
Green bean Mushroom Casserole (these might look like vomit, but they’re definitely not)
Serves 8

What you’ll need:
4 cups green beans (1 lb), fresh or frozen (ends chopped if fresh)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
4 cups creamy mushroom soup (one box) (Imagine has a great product, thanks Isa!)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional) (I used it!)
2 tablespoons vegetable broth powder (I actually used liquid- worked great as well)
6 oz can of fried onions, divided (I did NOT use fried onions and it still turned out awesome!)

What you’ll do:
Bring a pot of water to boil for the green beans. When ready, boil for 7 minutes then drain.
Meanwhile, in a large pan over medium-high heat, saute onions in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute for 7 minutes more (I actually ended up running out of mushrooms, so I didn’t use these! Still- so good!).
Mix the flour into the mushroom soup until very few lumps are left. Add to the pan along with the salt, peppers, and, if using, the nutritional yeast and vegetable broth powder. Stir often for 10 minutes, until thickened.
Preheat oven to 375. Add the green beans to the pan and use your spatula chop them up a bit into smaller pieces (roughly in half). Mix in half of the fried onions (or don’t use them at all). Transfer to an oiled casserole and top with the remaining onions. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until browned and bubbly. Let cool for at least 1/2 an hour before serving.

Adapted from:

CornbreadCornbread (insert heart eyes emoji)
Makes 12-16 squares

What you’ll need:
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 cups soy milk (I used original unsweetened almond milk from Silk)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

What you’ll do:
Preheat oven to 350, line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper or spray the bottom lightly with nonstick cooking spray (I would do parchment paper or simply spread avocado oil on the pan).
In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy milk and the vinegar and set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt).
Add the oil and maple syrup to the soy milk mixture. Whisk with a wire whisk or a fork until it is foamy and bubbly, about 2 minutes.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together using a large wooden spoon or a firm spatula. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake 30-35 minutes. (I used a knife to make sure they were done- it’ll come out clean.) Slice into squares and serve warm or store in an airtight container.
SeitanRoastOK, for this Seitan (Satan) Roast, I would go directly to Isa’s site: Hers looks so delicious and badass and mine does not compare. I grew tired and seitan is hard to roll out with a mason jar (I don’t have a rolling pin, ok?) The insides of this thing are amazing. It’s the outside you want to be very careful making. I warn thee!
Pumpkin Pie on Spelt Flour Crust with Coconut Whipped (if you do it right!) Cream
Serves… it’s a regular fricken pie! Cut em as big or small as you want!

I told you: I’m no chef. I also told you: I drank the rest of the bottle of chardonnay. This was the last thing on my list. The sixth hour in the kitchen. My favorite pie. I forgot the butter in the microwave (it’s cool though, it was only for the crust and it’s still edible – I just ate another piece).

P.S. Make me the night before!

What you’ll need (for the crust):
1 cup whole grain spelt flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry sugar (Natural cane sugar, brown sugar, or Sucanat)
2 tbsp ground flax seed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted OR Earth Balance, melted (this is where I forget things in microwaves)

for the filling:
2 & 1/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup natural cane sugar or brown sugar
1/4 cup full-fat coconut cream (or almond milk), softened (I used almond milk)
1 tbsp Earth Balance, softened
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tbsp arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves

What you’ll do:
Crust (1): Preheat oven to 425F and grab 9-inch pie dish. In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix dry crust ingredients. Pour in milk and melted coconut oil. With an electric mixer, mix just until the dough forms into a few lumps. Do not over-mix. The dough should be moist, but not too sticky. If it’s too sticky work in a tiny bit of flour when rolling.

Crust (2): On a non-stick mat or lightly floured surface, roll out dough until it’s a couple inches wider than the pie dish. Place pie dish on top of dough and trim the edges leaving 1-inch around the edge. Gently roll the dough onto the rolling pin and then unroll over top of dish or just flip the baking mat over with the dish on top. Tuck the edges of the dough under and then crimp/flute the edge using your fingers (see photos below). Poke 12 fork holes into base and pre-bake the crust for 7 minutes at 425F, no pie weights required. Roll out remaining dough and cut shapes with cookie cutters. Cover dough shapes with plastic wrap.

Filling: In a small bowl or mug, whisk together the maple syrup and arrowroot powder (or cornstarch). In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients, adjusting spices to taste.

To bake: Scoop the filling into crust and smooth. Add cut-outs on top. Bake for 45 mins at 350F. Remove and cover crust edges with tinfoil or crust shield. Bake for another 15 mins. Place on cooling rack for 1 hour. Transfer to fridge to set for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight. (this is very important!)

Tips and tricks: 1) The dough should NOT be chilled, but rolled immediately. 2) Using full-fat coconut cream (from the top of the can) yields in a richer and creamier filling (I couldn’t detect the coconut taste much), but feel free to use almond milk. 3) The pie must set in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours before serving. The longer it chills for, the more it firms up.

Retrieved (barely adapted) from:

Coconut Whipped Cream

P.S. Make me the night before!

This one is going to take some preparation. Get a can of full-fat coconut milk and place it in the fridge overnight. What you’ll need and do is all right here (she does a much better job than I, trust me!):

Good luck trying to not stuff your face with all of this. I’ve been eating Thanksgiving for days and it’s not even here yet.