December 8, 2010 12:06 PM   Subscribe

Vegetarian Christmas. What replaces the turkey?

I'm in the land that Tofurkey forgot. What high protein main can I do that stands in for a roast alongside roast vegetables and vegetarian gravy?

Nut roast maybe? They sound a bit 1970s and crunchy-granola to me but maybe you have a great recipe? Or something else?

(To pre-empt the "do Indian instead" answer, we're going for Norman Rockwell traditional this year).
posted by dontjumplarry to Food & Drink (38 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
My family has always done lasagna with TVP as the vegetarian Christmas main. Wouldn't look at all out of place in Norman Rockwell painting.
posted by 256 at 12:11 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


now with super-duper working link!
posted by randomination at 12:12 PM on December 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

This pot pie is amazing and very hearty and holiday-meal-like. I use seitan in place of the tofu.

Field Roast also makes fake meat roast-type things that are good, if you don't feel like putting together something on your own.
posted by something something at 12:13 PM on December 8, 2010

Roasted acorn (or similar) squash stuffed with quinoa, nuts, and cheese. And whatever else you want to throw in. It even gets this unabashed animal eater drooling.
posted by phunniemee at 12:13 PM on December 8, 2010

You could make your own seitan "roast" if you have access to vital wheat gluten. I don't have specific recipes but I know there's tons out there.
posted by joan_holloway at 12:14 PM on December 8, 2010

We did the QuornTurkeyLoaf for Thanksgiving. If you use it, go the cooking bag method route with it. That method lets you add herbs (I recommend sage) which make the roast more festive, I think.

I'm not, personally, a fan of Quorn Turkey. I think it mimics badly roasted turkey very well, which is not what I want at my festive meal. Others think it tastes really good. For a festive vegetarian meal in the traditional American Roast Beast vein, I am personally happier just skipping the protein centerpiece and having a great variety of sides. I make sure one is a quiche, savory souffle, or other egg-based dish.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:15 PM on December 8, 2010

\m/ SEITAN! \m/
You can make a pretty decent roast out of some, I've even done it roasted on a bed of veggies and filled with stuffing.

Boil the dough in a broth made from water, ginger, a couple cloves, half a nutmeg, a handfull of black peppercorns, 2 large onions, 2 large carrots, 3 ribs of celery, 1/2 cup soy sauce, a tablespoon of marmite or other yeast extract, and salt.

Then, brush with your favorite marinade and roast for an hour at 300, basting as you feel is appropriate.
posted by Jon_Evil at 12:15 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I used to do homemade seitan with miso gravy.

Seitan = wheat gluten + seasonings + water, then boil

I think I used sage and soy sauce in mine. I often made it by kneading the hell out of whole wheat flour + water, periodically rinsing it, but using already-processed wheat gluten seems to work equally well.
posted by momus_window at 12:16 PM on December 8, 2010

Chestnut and Mushroom Wellington (don't have a recipe, sorry).

Mushroom and brie parcels. Get one big flat mushroom per person. Remove the stalks, chop them and use them in your gravy. Grill the mushrooms on both sides until pretty much cooked. Put slices of brie in the middle of each mushroom and top with a dollop of cranberry sauce. Put the mushroom on some sheets of buttered filo and bring the sides of the filo up to form a parcel. Put them in the oven until the filo goes golden and crispy.

These can be mostly pre-prepared and finished in the oven at the last minute.
posted by emilyw at 12:16 PM on December 8, 2010

Oh, and I just did 2-bite pieces of seitan and pan-fried. Less festive, but the oven was pretty full.

The internet should have lots of recipes to peruse.
posted by momus_window at 12:18 PM on December 8, 2010

Vegweb is a great resource for recipes.

At Thanksgiving I did a couple of tries at making the Seitan Holiday Roast listed there- the second time turned out pretty good!
posted by Dr-Baa at 12:27 PM on December 8, 2010

I haven't made any of them yet, but the recipes from the Vegan Dad blog sound/look amazing -- especially the fake meat recipes. You might also browse the 'holiday' tag. (Compliments of this post.)

If you're in a Tofurkey-less region, it might also be hard to find vital wheat gluten in your grocery store (though Bob's Red Mill sells it, and they're pretty well distributed). You could easily find it online, though, and order the ingredients ahead of time.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:28 PM on December 8, 2010

Nthing the yum of a good seitan recipe. My girlfriend made a very tasty, if a bit dense, seitan en croute for Thanksgiving and I quite liked it. I've had the Celebration Roast from Field Roast and while it was ok, it wasn't my favorite.
posted by FlamingBore at 12:31 PM on December 8, 2010

Magic loaf! It's easy to work around ingredients you have available and the ones I've made have been pretty tasty. Otherwise seitan is a good choice.
posted by radioaction at 12:42 PM on December 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've been toying with the idea of molding sweet potatoes into the shape of a turkey. Because sweet potatoes are really all anybody needs for Thanksgiving, right?
posted by asperity at 12:43 PM on December 8, 2010

If I were you I'd just put a Quorn turkey roast in the oven with sage/rosemary/thyme, and dress it with that vegetarian gravy or maybe some cranberry sauce. I did this for Thanksgiving this year and it was fine. (I usually disregard the whole idea of a vegetarian "turkey" substitute and just make a mushroom risotto.) I know a lot of people look down on fake turkey. I love high-protein vegetarian dishes like tempeh and quinoa and tofu, and I think a lot of the recipes that have been suggested sound great. But your emphasis seems to be more on something that replicates the tradition rather than making the best possible gourmet vegetarian dish. If you want a close vegetarian substitute for a one-time holiday turkey, consider biting the bullet and getting the Quorn.
posted by John Cohen at 12:47 PM on December 8, 2010

I made this recipe for UnTurkey once - it was delicous!
posted by statolith at 12:52 PM on December 8, 2010

I've made a tofu roast very similar to this recipe with great results.
posted by janerica at 1:09 PM on December 8, 2010

You can always do Tofurky. I never liked it, but my MIL sprang one on me for T-Day. She cooked it in a crockpot with a bag of their gravy, and it was pretty damned good, much to my surprise. I'm planning on doing it again soon.

You could always just do a big ole mess of "go-withs" as well. The NYTimes ran a great series of veg recipes...we're planning on doing a two-day vegstravaganza for all the parents this year (they don't know yet...should be fun)

Also, chestnut stuffing. mmmmmmm chestnut stuffing.
posted by nevercalm at 1:10 PM on December 8, 2010

These Chickpea Cutlets are delicious, and would probably be even more so with gravy (in fact, I may be pushing this for Christmas dinner myself now).
posted by grapesaresour at 1:28 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

My family always does lasagna, both vegetarian and not. We're not even Italian, for what that's worth.

My grandmother used to do the full Thanksgivingish spread, but realized (after my grandfather's stroke, mostly) that preparing 4+ pans of lasagna a day or two ahead and popping them in the oven that evening was much easier than actually preparing food on Christmas day. Because that day is busy enough as it is.
posted by supercres at 1:37 PM on December 8, 2010

Mushroom Haggis.
posted by jeffamaphone at 1:40 PM on December 8, 2010

I make those chickpea cutlets all the time! They take no time at all, freeze well, and you can make them into veggie burgers very easily. I might have them tonight, even.
posted by nevercalm at 1:41 PM on December 8, 2010

I normally went to town with the side dishes: delicious salad, mashed potatoes (vegan gravy is easy), acorn squash, sweet potatoes, kale... Here's a great cookbook on this topic.
posted by salvia at 1:52 PM on December 8, 2010

A bean stew?
posted by Paquda at 1:54 PM on December 8, 2010

Portobello mushrooms stuffed with lentils and wild rice are nice and very "main dish-y." I started off with this recipe but omitted the panceta and added lentils to help bind it and make it filling.

Last Christmas I made these at my brother in law's house. I think he was mad that my mushrooms out-shined his Lentil Loaf.
posted by vespabelle at 2:00 PM on December 8, 2010

This is so delicious that I have had people who like turkey tell me that they didn't miss the turkey one bit!


1/4 c. olive oil
1 large white onion, finely chopped (1 1/4 c.)
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 1/2 c. celery, finely chopped
12 cups whole-grain bread cubes (1/2-inch cubes)
2 teaspoons ground or fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Vz teaspoon sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups strong vegetable stock, boiling

Heat oil, Add onion, shallot, celery and saute until vegetables
begin to soften. Add bread cubes, sage, marjoram, thyme, celery
seed, paprika, sea salt, and pepper. Mix well. Add 2 1/4 cups of boiling vegetable stock. Mix well and stir frequently for 30 minutes over low heat.

Mashed Potato Crust:
8-10 small White Rose potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
(8-10 cups)
1 stalk celery
1 bay leaf
1 large clove garlic
1 scant tablespoon of light miso
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
Freshly ground pepper

Place peeled potatoes, celery stalks, garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns in large kettle of cold water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Using slotted spoon to remove potatoes from water, reserving water for mashing. Leave the peppercorns behind. Mix together 1/4 c. of potato water and the miso. Mash potatoes and incorporate miso mixture. Add oil and pepper to taste. Add more potato water until you like the way it looks and tastes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Oil a big oven-capable casserole and press the stuffing down gently into bottom. Top with mashed potatoes and smooth the crust with spatula. Sometimes I get a little creative here with mashed potato art. Dust the top with paprika.
Bake for 45 minutes or until potatoes have formed a golden crust.

Make some vegetarian gravy if you really want gravy.
posted by lois1950 at 2:23 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

25+ years of Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce.
posted by dzaz at 2:26 PM on December 8, 2010

Oops. That link isn't veggie. This one is.
posted by dzaz at 2:32 PM on December 8, 2010

Years ago, we invented potaturkey for a vegan Thanksgiving. We made a mound of stuffing, coated it in mashed potatoes and made legs out of sweet potatoes for dark meat. We originally tried to make the outside pretty with sweet potatoes, but the current incarnation uses bread crumbs. Serve with gravy.

Incarnation. Ha. I think I'm hilarious!
posted by advicepig at 2:34 PM on December 8, 2010

My favourite xmas vege main is baked camembert, and it's incredibly easy. Take a whole camembert, brush with melted butter, sprinkle over brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, top with slivered almonds and pour over just a wee bit more melted butter, then into a 200c oven for 35 to 40 mins until the sugar is a bit caramelised. Serve with cranberry sauce, roasted veg and rocket/arugula and spinach.
posted by goo at 2:51 PM on December 8, 2010

What replaces the turkey?

I get the sense that a lot of omnivore meals are centered around the meat. That's the main event, and all of the other stuff is designed to compliment the meat or balance it out or otherwise not draw attention from it. Vegetarian meals, for the most part, aren't like that. There's not really a main dish that all of the other dishes are supposed to center around. The foods are just delicious and exciting by themselves.

Yes, by all means, be sure to serve things with protein and get a balance of nutrients. Beans, tofu, seitan, and a lot of the other things suggested above will fit the bill. But don't feel as though there needs to be a big silver platter in the middle of the table with something big and impressive on it. That's just not really how most vegetarian meals of this sort work.
posted by decathecting at 3:06 PM on December 8, 2010 [5 favorites]

I agree - don't try to replace the turkey. There are so, so many delicious and hearty side dishes that if you make a little effort to make sure they're veggie, it will be an adequate feast. For example: these brussels sprouts are amazing. Paired with cheesy appetizers, delicious mashed potatoes, savory stuffing, crusty bread, green salad, and dessert, and you'll have happy vegetarians.
posted by yarly at 3:18 PM on December 8, 2010

Nthing field roast.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:32 PM on December 8, 2010

A slow roasted butternut squash topped with goat cheese. Roast the seeds.
posted by effluvia at 4:40 PM on December 8, 2010

Yeah, thirding the suggestion to not try to substitute. At least, don't serve a roast-facimile made from seitan / tofu / quorn. I feel like those mostly exist to fuel jokes like this.

I think decathecting's suggestion is best: serve lots of interesting small dishes. But if you're dead-set on offering one big platter from a presentation perspective, a vegetarian cassoulet would be reasonably Norman Rockwell-esque. Or phunniemee's suggestion of stuffed roasted squash.
posted by molybdenum at 4:51 PM on December 8, 2010

I have in the past made a cheese souffle to serve this purpose -- it is tasty and attention-getting! (I have even made tofurkey but do not recommend it.) Now I mostly go the other direction and just make many dishes, so there's no one central turkey substitute. Feel no pressure to have the One True Dish.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:44 PM on December 8, 2010

I eat meat. I like vegetables. I LOVE planned holiday menus.

I don't think you can replace meat with fake meat. Decathecting et al are right. You don't need to replace meat with a "protein." If nothing else, consider this an important holiday that means you don't need a perfectly balanced meal.

I really think you should just serve some pierogies, to tell the truth. Eat your balanced meals, vegetarian or not, on December 26th.
posted by oreofuchi at 11:28 PM on December 8, 2010

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