Vegetarian dishes that leave turkey in the dust

vegetarian-entree-Thanksgiving-BolitaBeans A turkey doesn’t have to be the centerpiece this Thanksgiving.

Take it from Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, authors of the new cookbook Vegetarian Dinner Parties, who love to showcase how veggie dishes can play the starring role at your upcoming feast.

“These vegetarian dishes are so savory and unexpected that they make turkey just part of the plate and not front and center,” say Weinstein and Scarbrough. “This is the point of really good vegetarian food—finding its place alongside meat and then maybe becoming the main attraction.”

While these 3 vegetarian dishes definitely skew more hearty and even indulgent (hello, gnocchi!), they’re proof that vegetables can have pride of place next to (or even without) the bird. —Molly Gallagher

(Photo: Eric Medsker)


Get Started
vegetarian-entree-Thanksgiving-Sweet-Potato-Gnocchi Sweet Potato/Amaretti Gnocchi, Sage Butter
Serves: 8

2 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
1 pound russet (baking) potatoes
4 large egg yolks
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup finely ground amaretti cookies
1 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1. Position the rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375°F. Roast the sweet and russet potatoes on a large baking sheet until tender, about 1 hour. Cool on a wire rack until easily handled, about 30 minutes. Peel the potatoes and put them all through a potato ricer and into a large bowl.

2. Stir the egg yolks into the potatoes until creamy. Add 4 cups of flour, the ground amaretti, and salt. Stir to form a soft dough, adding more flour as necessary to get the dough to cohere, probably a cup more, maybe even more than that depending on the day’s humidity, the moisture content of the flour, and even the residual moisture content of the baked potatoes.

3. Dust a clean, dry work surface with flour. Divide the dough into 8 equal balls. Roll one under your palms into a rope about 12 inches long. Cut the rope crosswise into 1-inch pieces, like small pillows. Continue making the remainder from subsequent ropes.

4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Drop one-third of the gnocchi in and boil until tender, about 5 minutes. (Working in batches prevents crowding and mitigates drastic temperature fluctuations.) Use a slotted spoon to lift them out of the water and drain completely in a colander. Repeat with the two remaining batches, one at a time.

5. Divide the butter between two large skillets and melt each over medium heat. Divide the sage, pepper, and nutmeg between the skillets. Stir well and add half the gnocchi to each skillet. Fry, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned and crisp on at least one side, about 3 minutes.

6. To serve, divide all the gnocchi among serving plates, scraping any dribs of buttery sauce in the pan over each serving.

Note: Make the gnocchi through step three, up to six hours in advance. Arrange them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until you’re ready to boil them.

Reprinted from Vegetarian Dinner Parties by Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough. Copyright (c) 2014 by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. By permission of Rodale Books. Available wherever books are sold.

(Photo: Eric Medsker)


vegetarian-entree-Thanksgiving-CauliGratin Cauliflower/Green Olive Gratin
Serves: 8

Don’t wait for a winter dinner party to make this pure-comfort dish. It’s a rich, briny take on a traditional gratin: a creamy Mornay sauce for the cauliflower with a crunchy breadcrumb topping. It’ll be a wonderful addition to a summer meal, particularly if it’s served at room temperature. In fact, it’s probably hearty enough to be a “large plate” if you pair it with a generous selection of hot and sweet pickles. (In which case, it’ll probably make just 6 servings.)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large cauliflower head (about 3 pounds), cored and cut into small florets
1/2 cup thinly sliced pitted green olives
1 large shallot, sliced into thin rings
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole or low-fat milk
1/2 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese (about 2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 1 ounce)

1. Position the rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375°F.

2. Pour the oil into a 14-inch oval gratin dish or into a 9 x 13-inch broilerproof baking dish. Add the cauliflower, olives, and shallot. Toss well so everything’s coated. Bake until tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack.

3. Use oven mitts to move the oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler. Heat that broiler.

4. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste, then whisk in the milk in a slow, steady, thin stream. Continue whisking over the heat until the mixture thickens slightly. Stir in the Gruyere, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower mixture in the baking dish.

5. Mix the panko and Parmesan in a small bowl. Sprinkle the panko mixture over the casserole, coating it completely. Broil until browned and bubbling, 1 to 2 minutes, taking care not to burn the breadcrumbs. Cool for 10 minutes before dishing up with a large spoon.

Note: Serve the dish at room temperature. Make it up to two hours in advance, then store it, uncovered, at room temperature.

Reprinted from Vegetarian Dinner Parties by Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough. Copyright (c) 2014 by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. By permission of Rodale Books. Available wherever books are sold.

(Photo: Eric Medsker)


vegetarian-entree-Thanksgiving-BolitaBeans Bolita Bean Stew, Fall Vegetables, Lemony Breadcrumbs
Serves: 8

2 cups dried bolita bean
2 sprigs (6-inch) fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 small dried hot chiles, such as chiles de arbol
2 bay leaves
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound “baby” carrots, halved lengthwise
1 pound celery root (aka celeriac), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
11 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, and chopped
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped lovage or celery leaves
3 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup pine nuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 1 ounce)
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1. Soak the beans in a large bowl of cool water for at least 12 hours and up to 16 hours. Drain in a colander set in the sink.

2. Pour the beans into a large pot and add enough water so it stands 4 inches over them. Stir in the rosemary, thyme, chiles, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring a few times. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until just tender, 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours.

3. Meanwhile, position the rack in the center of the oven and heat to 400°F. Toss the parsnips, carrots, and celery root with 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of the oil in a large roasting pan. Roast until browned and soft, about 1 hour 10 minutes, tossing three or four times to prevent sticking and to make various sides of the pieces rest against the hot surface. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Leave the oven on but reduce the temperature to 350°F.

4. When the beans are done, set a colander over a bowl set in the sink. Drain the beans, catching the liquid below. Discard the rosemary, thyme, chiles, and bay leaves.

5. Set a very large skillet over medium heat for a couple minutes, then add 3 tablespoons of the oil. Dump in the onion and fennel and cook, stirring often, until very soft, even lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

6. Stir in the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes soften and begin to break down, about 3 minutes. Stir in the lovage or celery leaves, then stir in the beans.

7. Spoon half the bean and tomato mixture into a shallow, round, 4- to 5-quart flameproof cast iron casserole. Spoon and spread the roasted vegetables over these, then top with the remaining bean and tomato mixture. Pour enough reserved liquid from the beans to come just shy of the top layer of the casserole. Cover the casserole and bake until hot and bubbling, about 45 minutes.

8. Meanwhile, combine the breadcrumbs, pine nuts, cheese, lemon zest, and the remaining 1/4 cup oil in a large food processor and process until well blended. Set aside.

9. Transfer the casserole to the stovetop over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes to reduce excess liquid. Sprinkle the top of the casserole evenly with the breadcrumb mixture while the casserole is still very hot and bubbling. Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, until browned, about 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before dishing up servings or bringing the whole casserole right to the table.

Notes: Boil the beans up to 24 hours in advance. Store, covered, in the refrigerator, but allow to come back to room temperature before using. Roast the root vegetables up to six hours in advance. Store, uncovered, at room temperature. Make the tomato and bean mixture up to 2 hours in advance. Store, covered, at room temperature.

Reprinted from Vegetarian Dinner Parties by Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough. Copyright (c) 2014 by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. By permission of Rodale Books. Available wherever books are sold.

(Photo: Eric Medsker)


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