ahh, Thanksgiving. Probably one of the hardest holidays for those with dietary restrictions. Raise your hand if you have been taunted with greasy turkey legs, been asked a million questions about your diet (“But where do you get your protein? Don’t you miss meat? What would happen if you had one bite? Wouldn’t it be funny if I hid meat in your vegetables?!”) and generally felt left out over this holiday. There was definitely one Thanksgiving when I was a vegetarian when my options were mashed potato, rolls and a garden salad. All good things but not super festive, you know? So I feel ya’. I’ve compiled some yummy tidbits from the blog that I think you could bring to your Thanksgiving dinner and not get crap over (“Is this some sort of healthy, vegan food??”). All the below recipes have been tested on meat eaters and received thumbs up.
Actually, that’s a lie…I never tested the Vegan Green Bean Casserole out on my family because I hoarded it all to myself. True story.
Peanut Butter Krispie Treats (these would be so cute with little turkey cookie cutters and sprinkles)
Now, you can probably see there aren’t a lot of main dishes up there. The past few years I’ve eaten Tofurkey but I just wasn’t feeling it this year. Those Tofurkey loaves are a lot for one person! I end up having leftovers for ever. So this year I am trying a stuffed acorn squash. I was SO impressed and happy with the way it came out. I made this recipe while at my parents this weekend and my mom, a meat eater, got to sample everything and was equally impressed.
Apple, Quinoa and Kale Stuffed Acorn Squash with Tahini Maple Dressing
from Edible Perspective, with mild adaptations
yields 4 main dish servings
for the dressing:
- 1 garlic clove, peeled + smashed
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 2-3 teaspoons pure maple syrup
- salt + pepper to taste
for the squash and apples:
- 3 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 medium acorn squash
- 2 crispy apples (I used honeycrisps)
- salt + pepper
for the kale and quinoa:
- 3-4 teaspoons unrefined coconut oil
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups water
- 5-6 cups chopped kale (lacinato/dino was recommended but seriously, I can never find it. Curly green kales works just fine)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
- salt + pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 4 – 5 TBSP dried cranberries
- pecans for garnish
for the dressing: Combine the smashed garlic, lemon juice, and oil in a jar. Seal and shake vigorously. Let sit for 10 minutes. Shake once more then remove the garlic. Add tahini, maple syrup, lemon zest, and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Seal and shake until smooth. Taste and adjust salt/pepper/maple syrup if needed. Set aside. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 1 week.
for the squash and apples: Preheat your oven to 400* F. In a small pan combine the coconut oil, maple syrup, and cayenne over medium-low heat and stir until melted. Take off the heat. Slice 2 acorn squashes in half, remove and toss the seedy middle and coat the flesh with the oil/maple mixture. Place squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for about 35-40 minutes until tender. A few minutes later slice the apples into 1/4-inch thick slices, removing any seeds/core. Place on a baking sheet and toss to coat with remaining oil/maple mixture. Place in the oven during the last 7-10 minutes of squash roasting. Roast for 7 minutes to maintain a nice crunch.
for the kale and quinoa: As soon as the squash is in the oven heat a pot over medium with 2 teaspoons of coconut oil. Once hot add the quinoa and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add the water then raise heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, stir, then reduce heat to simmer and cover for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep covered. After placing your apples in the oven to roast place a large pan over medium heat and melt 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil. Once hot, add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds, then add the kale and stir frequently for about 3-5 minutes until wilted. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and combine in the pan with the kale. Sprinkle with a good amount of salt and pepper and add the lemon juice and craisins. Stir to combine. Once the the squash and apples are complete, dice the apples and combine with the quinoa and kale.
to assemble: Place the roasted squash half on a plate and fill with the quinoa mix. Drizzle with the tahini dressing and sprinkle with pecans.
*NOTE* If you are making this for Thanksgiving, you can make the dressing and quinoa/kale mixture ahead of time (including the apples) and save the acorn squash for the day of. You can microwave the filling after you pull out the squash. It will save some time and dishes when there is a ton going on in the kitchen. You can also cook and stuff the acorn squash the night before (do not put dressing on) and reheat the next day on 350 for about 40 minutes uncovered (covering may speed the cooking time). Just a few things to keep in mind when prepping for Thanksgiving.
—– other serving option —–
for a salad- style dish: visit Edible Perspectives page and check out how she presents this as a salad dish. This option would be great if you want to make this dish for a large group of people or want to serve it as a side-dish.
This recipe is so yummy! I love love love the dressing and will most likely be using this as my go to dressing going forward. Also, I am a huge fan of the roasted apples and craisins mixed in. It gives it such a nice sweetness. Plus, it just looks so pretty when plated up!
If you are wondering what I served with it in the picture above, that is the stuffing I will be sharing with you tomorrow. Trust me when I say you are going to want to tune it. It has this challah pretzel bread in it!