dessert · seitan · thanksgiving

Vegan Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is about two things: food and football.  I debated doing a Thanksgiving post because its usually eaten indoors and not in a parking lot, but the distinctions from tailgating end there.  You gather around with friends and family to eat a lavish meal, watch football, drink a few drinks and have a good time.  Just like a tailgate! 

I’ll be the first to confess that this is my first vegan Thanksgiving.  Last year I made an exception to the rule and ate turkey and all the fixins.  But this time around I was determined to give it a go plant based.  Plus I had a road game Sunday in Dallas (nothin says Thanksgiving like an almost win against the Cowboys) to allow me to cook from home and test out some new recipies.   

I pulled recipes from one of the most respected and creative vegan chefs around to create a complete feast.  Isa Chandra Moskowitz is a personal hero of mine for her endless pursuit of delicious food.  Her show, Post Punk Kitchen, spawned a book, which spawned a blog, which spawned many more books, is an inspiration to vegans everywhere.  Here’s the menu: Seitan Roast Stuffed With Shiitakes And Leeks, Green Bean Casserole, Mashed Potatoes with Golden Gravy (from Chef Chloe) and Pumkin Pie (from Kathy at Lunchbox Bunch.  This Thanksgiving post has nothing on hers).  Enjoy!

Seitan Roast Stuffed With Shiitakes And Leeks
For the filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced (rough ends removed)
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cut into thin half moons (these smell so good fresh – AR)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (again, I like Ian’s brand)
1/4 cup vegetable broth (store bought or make your own!)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
For the seitan:
3 cloves garlic
3/4 cup cooked pinto beans, rinsed and drained (fresh or canned)
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups vital wheat gluten (this stuff is the key to seitan. See my Seitan Ribs post for more info)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed or finely chopped
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed between your fingers
1 teaspoon dried sage, crushed between your fingers
Several dashes fresh black pepper

First prepare the filling:
1. Preheat a large pan, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms and leeks in oil until soft, about 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, garlic and thyme. Cook for about 2 more minutes, stirring often.
2. Sprinkle in the breadcrumbs and toss to coat. Cook the mixture, stirring very often, until the breadcrumbs are toasty and the mixture is relatively dry. This should take about 5 minutes, and the breadcrumbs should turn a few shades darker.
3. Drizzle in the broth and lemon juice and toss to coat until moist. If it still seems dry drizzle in a little extra olive oil. Set aside until ready to use.

Prepare the roast:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a food processor, pulse the garlic until well chopped. Add the beans, broth, olive oil and soy sauce and puree until mostly smooth (a few pieces of bean are okay, but they should be no bigger than a pea.)

2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, herbs and spices. Make a well in the center and add the bean mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts coming together to form a ball of dough. Knead until everything is well incorporated.
3. Now we’re going to roll out the seitan and form the roast. Place two pieces of tin foil (about 18 inches long) horizontally in front of you. The sheet further from you should overlap the closer sheet by about 6 inches. This way you have enough foil to wrap around the whole roast.
4. On a separate surface, use your hands or a rolling pin to flatten the seitan into a roughly 12 x 10 rectangle. If any pieces rip, don’t worry about it, just use a pinch of dough from the ends to repair any holes.
5. Place the filling in the lower 1/3 of the seitan rectangle, leaving about 2 inches of space at both ends.  (Or you could do one thin layer and the filling would be more dispersed.  I might try this next time) Make sure the filling is compact, use your hands to form it into a nice, tight bundle.
6. Now roll! Roll the bottom part of the seitan up and over the filling. Keep rolling until in it’s in a log shape. Now pinch together the seam and pinch together the sides to seal. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it will snap into shape when baking.
7. Place the roll in the center of the tinfoil and roll up like a tootsie roll, making sure the ends are tightly wrapped. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 60-90 minutes. Rotate the roll every 20 minutes for even cooking.
Unlike anything I’ve ever made!

Green bean casserole

4 cups green beans (1 lb), fresh or frozen (ends chopped if fresh)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
4 cups creamy mushroom soup (one box) (Imagine brand)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
2 tablespoons vegetable broth powder (optional)
6 oz can of fried onions, divided

1. Bring a pot of water to boil for the green beans. When ready, boil for about 7 minutes then drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a large pan over medium-high heat, saute onions in olive oil for about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute for 7 minutes more.
3. Mix the flour into the mushroom soup until very few lumps are left. Add to the pan along with the salt, peppers, and, if using, the nutritional yeast and vegetable broth powder. Stir often for about 10 minutes, until thickened.
4. Preheat oven to 375. Add the green beans to the pan and use your spatula chop them up a bit into smaller pieces (roughly in half). Mix in half of the fried onions. Transfer to an oiled casserole and top with the remaining onions. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until browned and bubbly. For yummiest results, let cool for at least 1/2 an hour before serving.

The Casserole was a huge hit

Mashed potatoes 

3 pounds yukon gold potatoes
1 head garlic
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk at room temp
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt (plus more for the water)
Several dashes fresh black pepper

1. Cut off top of garlic and drizzle with oil.  Wrap in foil and bake for at least 30 minutes at 400.
2. Cut potatoes into about 1 1/2 inch chunks. Place in a pot and cover with cold water. Spinkle about a teaspoon of salt into the water. Cover and bring to a boil.
3. Once boiling lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 12 minutes, until fork tender. Drain potatoes, then place back in the pot. 
4. Do a preliminary mash with a potato masher, just to get them broken up. Add milk, garlic, salt and pepper and mash until fluffy. You may want to add a bit more milk, if needed. Taste for salt and pepper and serve!

Golden Gravy

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 cup flour
2 cups water
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat and sauté onion until soft. 
2. Add nutritional yeast and flour, and stir for about 1 minute. 
3. Add water, soy sauce, thyme and garlic powder. Continue to cook, whisking continuously, until mixture is very thick. 
4. Transfer gravy to a blender and purée until smooth. Adjust seasonings, and add salt and pepper to taste.


Pumpkin Pie

1 1/4 cups raw soaked cashews
1 cup maple syrup
1 can organic pumpkin puree (16 ounces) (or use fresh puree)
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

One standard vegan pie crust (I used Wholly Wholesome brand)

1. Soak about one cup of raw cashews in about 2 1/2 cups of water in a large bowl (over night or for a few hours if using a Vitamix)

2. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
3. Drain the water from your cashews. They should be very soft to bite and a slight purplish dark hue. This is normal. Add 1 1/4 cups of cashews to your food processor – or even better, a Vitamix or high speed blender.
4. Add pumpkin to blender. Next, add in the maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice. Blend on low -> high for about 3-5 minutes until the mixture is completely creamy. If your mixture is a bit thick for some reason – you can add in a few teaspoons of either water, maple syrup or even non-dairy milk. After blending, do a taste test and add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt if needed.
5. Pour your mix into a par-baked vegan pie shell (I toast my raw pie shell in the 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes). You can buy a frozen crust or make your own per instructions linked in recipe above.
6. Bake pie at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Then reduce to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes – or until the edges look fluffy and a darker caramel orange tone. Use a toothpick in center if unsure. The tooth-picked filling should come out slightly wet – but very thick and dark. It is important to remember that your pie will firm up significantly upon cooling and chilling in the fridge.
7. Remove pie from oven. Cool on counter for at least 30 minutes. Then place in fridge until ready to serve. At least 2 hours cooling and/or chilling time is my preference. A warm pie will be tasty, but still a bit “wet” to slice.
8. I serve chilled with a spray of Soy Whip on top! 

You would never know its vegan
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