9 Showstopping Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes

credit: Flickr/Laurel Fan

Aside from the proliferation of cut-out paper pilgrims and clusters of Indian corn, nothing says "Thanksgiving" like a big dead bird center-stage on the table. For those of us who prefer our birds pecking around in the fields rather than plucked and on the plate, the lack of said dead bird leaves the Thanksgiving table looking a bit barren. For vegetarians who are attached to the tofu simulation of the traditional tom turkey, more power to you. But for the rest of us who might wish to avoid the ovoid ball of soy (or heaven forbid, the bird-carcass shaped version with its stubby faux drumstick nubs), where to turn? How do vegetarians compete with a big turkey centerpiece? And how to keep the omnivorous guests happy too? With any of these bird-free main courses, that's how.

1. Stuffed Pumpkin with Quinoa, Butternut and Cranberries

This recipe for Stuffed Pumpkin with Quinoa, Butternut and Cranberries offers a lot of bang for the buck, and is a beauty to behold. Seriously, who needs a turkey when you have a stuffed pumpkin?

credit: Flickr/stetted

1. Butternut Squash and Sage Lasagna

Yes, lasagna seems more trattoria than Plymouth Rock, but packed with butternut squash, walnuts, and sage, this white lasagna is perfectly Thanksgiving-ish.


  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage

Ricotta Layer

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 15-ounce containers of ricotta
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

The Rest

  • 8 ounces grated fresh mozzarella
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • 12 fresh pasta sheets
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss squash in olive oil, maple syrup, and salt and roast on a baking sheet for 30 minutes, or until squash is lightly browned and tender. 2. Turn oven to 350 degrees. Remove squash, dump in a bowl and gently toss with walnuts and sage. 3. Mix ricotta with other ingredients. 4. In a buttered 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish spread 2/3 cup ricotta and cover with pasta sheets. Spread with 2/3 cup ricotta and 1/3 of filling, then sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat layering 2 more times. Top with remaining 3 pasta sheets, remaining ricotta, and remaining cheese. 6. Cover baking dish with foil and bake lasagna in middle of oven 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes more. 7. Let settle for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
credit: Flickr/phil_g

2. Savory Pumpkin Tamales with Goat Cheese and White Beans

These Pumpkin Tamales with Goat Cheese and White Beans will bring a little Aztec and Maya culture to your table, a tasty twist on the Native American theme. Serve with Cherry Mole Sauce, next page.

credit: Boz Bros

3. Cherry Mole Sauce

This sauce is smoky, spicy, sweet, and dark ... like adding a little noir to the feast. Serve with pumpkin tamales, and employ it year-round for all your mole needs.

Cherry Mole Sauce

  • 4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded
  • 4 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup light oil
  • 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 4 whole canned plum tomatoes, drained
  • 2 3/4 cups (or more) water
  • 1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1. Submerge the chiles in warm water and soak until soft, about two hours - set 1 cup soaking water aside and roughly chop chiles. 2. Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add pumpkin seeds, almonds, dried cherries, and sesame seeds and sauté until toasted, about 12 minutes. 3. Place mixture in food processor with chile, reserved chile liquid, and plum tomatoes. Puree until almost smooth. 4. Return mixture to skillet and add 2 3/4 cups water. Bring to a boil while whisking. Turn heat down add chocolate and stir until melted. 5. Simmer until sauce darkens, about 15 minutes. You can add water 1/4 cup at a time if sauce gets too thick. 6. Salt to taste.
credit: Flickr/moyrj

5. Bread Pudding with Mushrooms and Parmesan Cheese

Bread pudding kind of brings stuffing to mind, and when mixed with mushrooms and cheese, the turkey won't be missed. Try this one: Bread Pudding with Mushrooms and Parmesan Cheese.

credit: Flickr/arimoore

6. Vegan Vegetable Pot Pie Recipe

Thanksgiving dinner is really just dressed-up comfort food, so why not go all out with the ultimate comfort food, Vegan Vegetable Pot Pie?

credit: Flickr/thepinkpeppercorn

7. Sweet Potato Patties with Spinach and Cranberries

A platter piled high with Sweet Potato Patties with Quinoa and Cranberries in the middle of the table will elicit many thanks. Especially if you serve it with an uncooked cranberry relish, like this:

Raw Cranberry, Ginger and Orange Relish

  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large orange, seeded, but with the peel, chopped
  • 12-ounce bag of cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
Chop ginger, orange, and cranberries in a food processor, using pulses, until you have a finely chopped relish. Remove to a bowl, stir in sugar, and chill for an hour.
credit: Flick/thebittenword.com

8. Roasted Root Vegetable Risotto with Fresh Sage

This Roasted Root Vegetable Risotto with Fresh Sage is certainly not short on carbs, but sometimes you need to throw caution to the wind, succumb, and give thanks for starchy risotto.

credit: Flickr/jamesjyu

9. Brioche Stuffing With Chestnuts and Figs

Let's face it, Thanksgiving is really all about the stuffing. So for heaven's sake, give the bird a break and just cut to the chase with a big, gorgeous vegetarian tangle of bread casserole, like this Brioche Stuffing With Chestnuts and Figs. Looking for more bird-free Thanksgiving recipes? 9 Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes Carnivores Will Eat Too 13 Easy Gourmet Recipes for a Vegetarian Thanksgiving