Vegetarian holiday recipes are just the thing if you don't eat turkey or any other kind of meat.
ILLUSTRATION: FOTOLIA/JEFFREY COLLINGWOOD
My wife Nancy, our son Matthew Ian, and I are vegetarians, and as such we've often been asked, "What do you do on Thanksgiving and Christmas if you can't eat turkey?"
Well, like everyone else, we feast...and we'd like to share our vegetarian holiday recipes with MOTHER EARTH NEWS' readers. Here they are, with all the trimmin's.
First, the main event: stuffed pumpkin, a very festive looking—and tasting—treat that can be ceremoniously "carved".
Get one or more small to medium-sized pumpkins (depending on the size of your gathering). We suggest smaller round ones that will sit up straight, are free of bruises and preferably have not been frozen (the fruit becomes somewhat mealy when it's frostbitten). Wash the pumpkins and cut the top from each as you would to make a jack-o'-lantern. Be sure to make the openings large enough so you can scoop the seeds out easily. Do so, and scrape the insides free of strings. If you wish, save the seeds for eating or planting.
Next, stuff the pumpkins full of a mixture of your favorite cooked whole grains, vegetables and seasoned dry whole-grain bread crumbs. We use brown rice, buckwheat, and millet with sauteed or steamed carrots, onions, zucchini, celery, grated ginger root and seasonings such as thyme, summer savory, and a dash of nutmeg and/or coriander.
When the cavities are full, sprinkle a little tamari (fermented soy sauce) over the stuffing and replace the lids. Coat the outside of each pumpkin lightly with unrefined oil and bake the fruit at about 350° for an hour or so, or until a fork will slide into the side easily. (Hint: If possible, roast each pumpkin on the platter from which it is to be served. Otherwise, be very careful when you transfer your finished production to the serving plate or it could fall apart.)
Surround each pumpkin with a garnish of parsley, baked apples or whatever. Carve the globe into wedges when you serve it...the stuffing should help the pieces hold their shape. Enjoy!
Next, the cranberry sauce. This one's easy and can be made either ahead of time or at the last minute. Place two or more cups of washed cranberries in a saucepan with three-fourths to one cup of honey and bring the mixture to a slow boil until about two-thirds of the berries have popped. Little or no water should be needed, and you can use more or less honey...or add more later to taste.
Then comes the creamed baby onions, prepared without animal milk. Start 'em steaming in a little water and in the meantime make the sauce by blending—until thoroughly liquified—one-half to three-quarters of a cup of cashews or cashew pieces to two cups of water. When the onions are tender, add the cashew milk and cook the combination slowly until the liquid has thickened. Season the sauce as you see fit.
For dessert, try baked apples with a bit of pure maple syrup and cinnamon in the partially cored center, or apple pie sweetened with honey and raisins in a whole-wheat pastry flour crust. Or follow your favorite squash, sweet potato or pumpkin pie recipe, substitute cashew milk for cow's milk and replace the thickening power of the eggs with two tablespoons of agar-agar flakes blended with a little water.
Hope we've been of some help to any of you who want to keep the traditional holidays...but don't want to take life or eat animal products. We wish you all a warm winter.