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Founding Father Alexander Hamilton may have said that “no citizen of the United States should refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day”, but there are plenty of reasons to go vegetarian this year. Being a vegetarian yourself or having guests who are would be two obvious ones, but a veggie Thanksgiving dinner is also great for people on a diet, or those trying to be frugal. Read on for tips on preparing a fantastic vegetarian Thanksgiving meal even carnivores can't say no to.
How To Choose Vegetarian Thanksgiving Ingredients
The Pilgrims at the First Thanksgiving are said to have enjoyed an abundance of meat and seafood — besides the Turkey that has become so famous, they feasted on venison, waterfowl, fish, lobster and clams. The vegetarian portion of the meal was a little more meager Pumpkin, squash and berries, and other fruits were apparently on the menu.
How can you turn something like that into a splendid dinner? I've got to say that pumpkin is delicious, but you will surely need a bit more than that to create a meal everyone will remember.
Vegetarian “turkey” has become popular among the no-meat crowd, but not everyone loves that.
I suggest that you choose your ingredients from produce native to North America or at least America, to ensure that your meal is a real Thanksgiving meal. Corn, beans and squash were all staple foods among Native Americans, as was a variety of quinoa. Tomatoes, avocados and bell peppers come from America too, and cranberries and black cherries and black raspberries can be on your list as well. Go a little down south, and you can add potatoes and sweet potatoes.
We'll cheat just a bit, and add other things in the meal as well. Still, the Thanksgiving inspiration you will find here is based around fruits and veggies that are native to North America.
Veggie Starters To Get You Going
Quinoa is full of proteins, is cholesterol free, and low in fat. It is also an excellent source of iron. The variety you can buy today comes from South America, and though it is eaten like a grain, it is actually a seed. Because quinoa is pretty neutral in taste, it is rather versatile. Cubed raw tomatoes, baby spinach, raw garlic, scallions, and lots of pepper are wonderful additions to prepared quinoa (soaked for 30 minutes, rinsed, and cooked for about 20 minutes, until soft in the middle and with crispy outer “rings”). Add olive oil, salt to taste, and a fresh white balsamico dressing, and parmesan cheese on top. This starter can be served warm, or cold as a salad.
Tomatoes stuffed with guacamole — that famous Mexican side dish — also make a wonderful starter. There are all kinds of ways in which you can make guacamole. I usually mash a ripe avocado with a fork (make sure it's ripe when you buy it, because avocados that are rock-hard in the store tend to stay that way!), and then add whatever I like. Olive oil, garlic, salt, and lots of pepper are definitely necessary. You can add Mexican spices if you like, and either lime, lemon, balsamic vinegar or a mix of those. If you're creative, you can work parsley, rocket, or lettuce in there, chopped up. When that's done, take the center out of your tomatoes, and also cut a tiny bit off the bottom so they will stand up.