Most of the year, a vegetarian or vegan meal can fit the bill quite nicely. For a special occasion however, it can be somewhat underwhelming. A bowl of curried lentils or a tofu burger somehow just don’t say, “festive” the way a roast turkey or a ham, studded with cloves and surrounded by glistening pineapple do. In this article I have tried to replace the classic carnivores center piece with a vegetarian creation that can be just as festive and just as celebratory.
The Russian Kulebyaka, a large pie, fit the bill perfectly. Traditionally a Kulebyaka can be made with either salmon or cabbage. For our purposes, I have of course chosen the cabbage version, enhanced with whole grain. For vegetarians it is bound with egg. Vegans may substitute flax seed powder for the egg, or even just leave the egg out. With egg it will hold together a bit better. With no binder it will be a bit crumbly and tend to fall apart when carved. The Kulebyaka centerpiece is accompanied by such classic Thanksgiving side dishes as gravy, (vegetarian of course,) mashed potatoes, glazed sweet potatoes, and other traditional holiday fare.
From before dinner nibbling, through soup, entree, side dishes and sumptuous desserts, this is a festive holiday meal, worthy of the most discriminating of gourmets, be they vegetarians or meat eaters.
When I invite people for dinner I find there is that awkward period, between the time my guests begin arriving and when I get dinner on the table. I am still in the kitchen butting the last frantic finishing touches on the meal. What to do with my guests. I certainly don’t want them all in my kitchen, in my way and distracting me. Well, a coffee table full of tasty nibbles and something to drink takes care of this splendidly.
My guests busy themselves with the munchies, talk to each other and periodically drift in for a word with me. Below is a selection of tasty tidbits that fill this bill quite nicely. It can be as simple as dip and crudités, or an antipasto tray, or you can become more elaborate and serve a number of items from the recipes I have provided.
The easiest party munchies of course are dips. They may be served with Crudité, Garlic_Toast_Snippets, tortilla chips or pieces of pita bread. Here are some of my favorites.
Guacamole - vegan
Black Olive Dip - vegan
Roasted Garlic & Herb Dip - vegan
Garden Fresh Herb Dip – vegetarian
Spinach Dip – vegetarian
Curried Pineapple Dip – vegetarian
Another excellent choice for keeping your guests happily munching and conversing while you are busy in the kitchen is an Antipasto Tray. This can be as simple or as complex as you time and energy to create. You can just open bottles and cans of olives and pickled vegetables and put them on a platter. If you are not a vegan, add quartered hard boiled eggs that you have lightly sprinkled with salt, pepper and dry or fresh dill weed. Using this as a beginning you can further enhance your creation with the addition of:
Roasted Garlic Cloves
Marinated Roasted Peppers and Chilies
Stuffed mushrooms are always a treat and here are two excellent recipes. Vegetarians and Vegans of course will leave out the bacon in the first recipe.
Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms
Another excellent munchy is Garlic & Chili Confi. You can make it the day before and let it sit. It will only get better. Serve it with fresh baguette.
Crostini or Bruschetta are other easy canapés to prepare and they make a big show with small effort, as do thin slices of baguette topped with Tapénade. Another excellent choice is Hummus served with pieces of pita or celery sticks for scooping.
Now let’s move on to the main event, the body of the meal. A special meal is even more special if it begins with a good homemade soup and what could be more appropriate for this all American meal, than
Cream of Pumpkin Soup served with Garlic Toast Snippets
After the soup course is cleared away, bring on the celebratory feast of a stunning and delectable
accompanied by a selection of any or all of the following:
Glazed Yams - Green Beans with Almonds
Succotash – Stuffed Baby Pumpkins
Fresh Herb and Edible Flower Salad – Fresh Fruit Salad
Herb & Parmesan Biscuits or Zucchini Cornbread - (savory)
Cranberry-Orange-Ginger-Relish – Spiced Apples
Pumpkin Pie of course for the vegetarians and Apple Pie for the Vegans
And that is a holiday feast fit for anyone, vegetarian or vegan. It should even please the carnivores on your guest list.