With more and more people cutting meat and other animal products out of their diets these days, the holiday menu is no longer the no-brainer it once was. If you are rethinking the idea of a meat-centric meal, here are a few crowd-pleasing vegan dishes to serve alongside a roast — or all on their own!
Based on Yotam Ottolenghi’s Roasted Butternut Squash
• 1/2 c. olive oil
• 4 lbs butternut squash
• 4 large red onions
• 1/2 c pine nuts
• Coarse sea salt
• 1/2 c. tahini paste
• 2 tbsp. lemon juice
• 2 small garlic cloves, crushed
• 2 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
• 2 tbsp za’atar (optional)
1. Heat the oven to 475 degrees.
2. Wash the squash and cut it into 3/4 by 2 1/2-inch wedges. No need to peel it, unless you want to, as the peel will cook in the hot oven. Mix in a large bowl with 1/4 c.. of olive oil. When well coated with oil, lay the pieces on a baking sheet with the skin side down. Leave room on one side of the baking pan for the onions.
3. Peel the onions and cut them through the root into 8 wedges. Carefully put them in the bowl that held the squash and gently toss with 3 tbsp of oil. Lay the pieces on the baking sheet. Season thesquash and onions with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes until well colored and soft. The onions will cook faster and need to be removed earlier. Begin checking after 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, whisk the tahini paste together in a small bowl with the garlic, lemon juice, 1/4 c. water and 1/4 tsp. salt until the consistency of honey. Add more water or a drizzle of olive oil if necessary.
5. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a small pan over medium-low heat. Cook the nuts with a sprinkle of salt for a couple f minutes, shaking the pan a few times to turn the nuts.
6. When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, lay the squash on a serving platter and spread the onions on top. Drizzle with the tahini sauce, sprinkle with the nuts and add the parsley and optional za’atar last.
Time: 1 hour
Yield: 10 servings
Easy Vegan Potato Pancakes
• 6 large russet potatoes
• 2 medium yellow onions
• 1 c. cooked oatmeal (can be the instant kind)
• 6 tbsp. flour
• 4 tsp salt
• Oil for frying
Cranberry sauce (see recipe below) and/or apple sauce
1. Peel the onions and potatoes. Cut the onions and 3 of the potatoes into large pieces. Pulse in a food processor until minced. Coarsely grate the remaining 3 potatoes with a hand grater. (Grating by hand ensures the proper texture.)
2. Combine all the potatoes and onions in a strainer and press out as much liquid as you can. Then take a ball at a time and squeeze it out a little more over the sink with your hands or wring it out in cheese cloth. Put each squeezed ball in a large bowl.
3. Heat a quarter-inch of oil in two large, heavy frying pans over medium-high heat until a drop of watersizzles. Meanwhile, stir the flour, salt, pepper and 1/2 c. of the cooked oatmeal into the potato esand onions. Add more oatmeal as needed until the mixture holds together well.
4. If you will be serving the pancakes within the hour, preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Otherwise, skip this step.
5. Spoon a couple of tablespoons into the pans for each pancake. Flatten each with the back of a spatula before spooning in the next. Leave the pancakes well-spaced in the pans. Fry until golden brown on one side — about 5 minutes — then flip and fry the other side. When done, drain them on paper bags or towels briefly to get rid of excess oil. Taste one for seasoning. If more salt is needed,add to pancakes as they come out of the skillet. Move to a cookie sheet.
6. If serving within the hour, place in the oven. Otherwise, let rest on the counter until 35 minutes before serving time. Then preheat the oven to 350 degrees and finish browning the pancakes in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes.
Time: 1 1/2 hours + time to finish browning in oven (15 minutes or more depending on when you do it)
Yield: 10 servings
Maple Squash Focaccia
A variation on Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Squash on Toast
Focaccia – For the focaccia bread, get pre-made pizza dough from your favorite pizzeria, Whole Foods, TraderJoe’s or the freezer section of your local supermarket. Alternatively, get a pre-baked Boboli pizza crust.
Note: If using frozen dough, remember to defrost it in advance.
• 1 medium kabocha squash (2 1/2-3 lbs) or other sweet winter squash, such as butternut
• 1/2 c. olive oil plus extra for drizzling
• 1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
• 1 yellow onion
• 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
• 1/4 c. maple syrup
• Coarse sea salt
• 4 tbsp. fresh chopped mint
For dairy lovers: ricotta cheese. For vegans: creamy cannellini bean puree made with 1 can of beans,1/4 c. of olive oil, 1-2 tsp. of lemon juice & salt to taste.
1. Bake the pizza dough, following the instructions provided. When done, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and return to the oven for a couple of minutes. Set aside.
2. Turn the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Peel and seed the squash and cut it into pieces, 1/4 inch thick or less. Toss it in a bowl with the olive oil, pepper flakes and 2 tsp. of salt. Then spread it out on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or more until tender and slightly colored. Set aside.
4. While the squash is cooking, prepare the onion mixture. Peel and thinly slice the onion and sprinkle with 1 tsp. of salt. Sauté in 1/4 c. oil over medium-high heat for 15 minutes or more until limp and deeply colored. Stir in the vinegar and syrup and cook for another 15 minutes until the liquid has reduced and thickened. Watch for burning and lower the heat if necessary.
5. Mix the squash and onions with a fork till they’re well combined and season to taste. Spread on the bread and sprinkle with the mint. Serve any extra in a bowl at the table along with the optional condiments.
Note: If not serving till later, hold off on the mint and wrap loosely with wax paper. Just before mealtime,warm for a few minutes in a 350 degree oven and then add the mint.
Time: 1 hour plus 30-45 minutes to roll out and bake the dough.
Yield: 1 focaccia (8 servings)