Pumpkin risotto and more ideas for a vegetarian Thanksgiving

I get a lot of questions about what I eat during the holidays. Truth is, it's not much different from what I ate when I was still eating birds. I eat sweet potato casserole (no marshmallows), macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce and a few other side dishes (not made with non-vegetarian soups or flavorings). I still get plenty to eat, but as vegetarianism has become more popular, people are more interested in having vegetarian entrees for guests rather than just an array of side dishes.

For the few years that I've hosted a (small) vegetarian Thanksgiving, I've served a stuffed acorn squash as the entree and it's been very well-received. I don't have a recipe, though and I never took a good picture, so I never posted it. Essentially, I just stuff a half-roasted acorn squash with wild rice that's been mixed with caramelized onions and dried currants soaked in a little vegetable broth (to plump them up). Another good entree option is pumpkin risotto, which I've made before, but have since updated to a simpler, tastier (and vegan and gluten-free) recipe that I'm posting now.


Pumpkin Risotto
serves 4

1 cup uncooked arborio rice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup diced onion
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin
2 teaspoons dried thyme

Saute the onion in the oil over medium heat until transluscent. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently for about 2 minutes or it becomes pearly.

Stir in one cup of broth, pumpkin, and thyme and continue cooking until all the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently. Add the remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time and cook, stirring frequently until liquid is all absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup.

If you're looking for something else--or just looking for some inspiration--here's a list of suggestions for a vegetarian (or vegan!) Thanksgiving:

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Entrees
Stuffed acorn squash (from above; vegan!)
Pumpkin risotto (recipe above; vegan!)
Tofurky (vegan!)
Vegetarian shepherd's pie
Smitten Kitchen's mushroom bourguignon
Butternut squash flatbread
Macaroni and cheese (oh, you think this is a side dish? Sorry.) or GF Quinoa Mac and cheese
Roasted vegetable cornucopias
Falafel patties (made from a boxed mix) with vegetarian gravy
Roasted vegetable farro salad
Chickpeas and seasonal veggies in a curry sauce (cheat and buy a jar from the international foods aisle at the grocery)

Vegetarian side dishes
Green bean casserole
Roasted cabbage (vegan!)
Sweet potato hash browns (vegan!)
Kale salad
Crispy chickpeas (vegan!) (and plus or minus the rest of the recipe)
Brussels sprouts (veganizable!)
Hoe cakes (vegan!)

And that's just a few recipes, mostly based on what's seasonally available (and, therefore, popular) around the holidays. If you're looking to veg*nize a favorite recipe, just be sure to switch out cream of mushroom for cream of chicken soup, a good vegetable broth for chicken or turkey broth (even for gravys!), substitute soy sauce for Worcestershire sauce and leave hamhocks, gelatin, and marshmallows out of your side dishes and desserts. Then you're all set for a vegetarian-friendly Thanksgiving.

5 thoughts on “Pumpkin risotto and more ideas for a vegetarian Thanksgiving

  1. Even though I'm now a meat-eater, turkey is one protein that I just don't like. I can't pinpoint exactly why, but something about the flavor just doesn't vibe with me. So I still eat vegetarian pretty much every Thanksgiving. Oh, + I don't like ham, either, so most of my Christmas meals wind up being meat-free, too. You have a great roundup here!

  2. i'm hosting my first Thanksgiving meal, and this round up is a great resource as i plan my meal. i have a few adamant brussels sprouts haters, but i'm making them anyway. i have it in my mind to make a savory pumpkin/cranberry dish, and risotto may just be the thing.

    1. Post author

      Agreed. The carcass is the worst! Luckily, my family has always kept the dead bird in the kitchen instead of on the table. Covered up with aluminum foil so the pets don't get to it, too. Ha!

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