Vegetarian Thanksgiving: A Feast of Fall Sides

Here are a few vegetarian-friendly Thanksgiving dishes that the whole crowd will love.
By: Emily Lee
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Food Network's Wild Rice Stuffed Butternut Squash For Vegan and Vegetarian Thanksgiving as seen on Food Network

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Stephen Johnson, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

How do you make sure the vegetarian at your Thanksgiving feast goes home feeling pleasantly sated just like everyone else? Well, for starters, you’ll need to pick really fantastic sides — ones that are so good they’ll make the turkey seem secondary. Most of us will agree that the sides are the best part, anyway. But with an abundance of pie in everyone’s future, it’s probably wise to offer the meatless eaters a few options beyond starchy mashed potatoes and carb-loaded stuffing. While roasted or sauteed vegetables are great to fill up on when you’re trying to “save room,” you’ll also want something that feels special, or celebratory, for the holiday. Here are a few vegetarian side dishes that, when served together, make up a perfectly satisfying Thanksgiving menu.

Serve this impressive fall dish as the main course for vegetarian and vegan guests, and everyone else at the table can enjoy it as a hearty side. The wild rice, walnuts and dried cherry stuffing has incredible texture, and the small amount of curry powder gives the squash a nice warmth and depth.

ANNE_BURRELL_ROASTED_ACORN_SQUASH_SALAD_H.jpg

ANNE_BURRELL_ROASTED_ACORN_SQUASH_SALAD_H.jpg

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Matt Armendariz, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

This salad makes use of all of your favorite fall ingredients: roasted squash, tart apples and pumpkin seeds. Thanks to the meaty portobellos, the dish could easily work as a vegetarian entree.

Giada De Laurentiis' Quinoa Roasted Eggplant and Apple Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette for Ladies Empowerment Lunch as seen on Food Networks Giada at Home

Photo by: Alice Gao ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Alice Gao, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

A mixed salad loaded with autumnal flavors and colors is one way to keep the vegetarians from getting restless. Giada De Laurentiis combines fluffy quinoa and roasted eggplant, then tops the salad with cranberries, walnuts and a thinly sliced apple. Finally, she tosses it all in her homemade cumin vinaigrette.

Ina Garten's WIld Cream of Mushroom Soup for Mystery Guest as seen on Food Network's Barefoot Contessa

Photo by: Alice Gao ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Alice Gao, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Make-ahead soups are just the thing to shorten your to-do list on Thanksgiving Day, and Ina Garten’s creamy concoction has the vegetarians covered. Her recipe comes together with the help of three different types of mushroom: portobello, shiitake and cremini. Brighten the flavor with stems of fresh parsley.

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FN_10_2010 COVER 156139.tif

Food Stylist: Anne Disrude Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin

Food Network Magazine’s butternut squash soup is ready in under an hour, so it’s truly a host’s dream. Vegetarians will go crazy for the creamy consistency, which closely resembles a bisque. While the soup simmers, roast a few small baking pumpkins to use in place of bowls, and prepare an array of toppings, like fried onions, sage and pepitas, so each guest can customize his or her own serving. The non-vegetarians might even enjoy a few slices of prosciutto or bacon.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

No matter what soup you serve, you’re going to need something to mop up what’s left on the bottom of your bowl. Even though this recipe calls for coconut oil and applesauce in place of vegetable oil and butter, the finished cornbread will have the same crisp, golden crust as an old-fashioned version, but without the greasy gleam.

Food Network's Vegan Scalloped Potatoes For Vegan and Vegetarian Thanksgiving as seen on Food Network

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Stephen Johnson, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a potato dish on the table. Yes, this one’s vegan-friendly, but the nutritional yeast and browned onions lend a deep savoriness that’s hard to match. Seriously, you’ll have to remind your other guests that this dish was made with the vegetarian in mind.

For a twist on classic mashed potatoes, add in-season parsnips to the mix. The herbivores will appreciate the extra dose of fiber.

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