Kim O’Donnel knows meat eaters. In fact, she is one. As a voice for the Meatless Monday campaign, she’s been cooking up delicious you-won’t-miss-the-meat fare for the vegetarian-curious-but-vegan’s-too-crazy crowd. With a focus on holidays (or any celebration), the versatile recipes found in The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations (Da Capo Books, 2012) ensure that eaters of all dietary stripes will leave the table satisfied. Cast aside those fears of cardboard tofurkey and gray starches. Instead, revel in dishes that inspire, surprise, and are so tasty, “meatless” is an afterthought (with allergy- and animal-free options, to boot). The excerpt below comes from the section, “Fall: Thanksgiving.”
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Procrastinators take note: This one is for you. Here’s a fun alternative to pumpkin pie that takes all of 15 minutes to put together. While the pudding chills, you can make a batch of molasses cookies, which can be baked in small, last-minute slice-and-bake fashion. FYI: The pudding is vegan (although no one will be able to tell), but the cookies are not.
Pumpkin Pudding Recipe
1 (12-ounce) package firm silken tofu, preferably organic or non-GMO
1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened pure pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Tools: Food processor or stand blender
Kitchen Notes: For some, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon will be plenty, but I added the option of even more for those who are nostalgic for lots of cinnamon with their pumpkin puree.
Place the tofu, with its liquid, and pumpkin puree in the bowl of a food processor or in a stand blender and puree until well blended. Add the vanilla, sugar, salt, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the ginger and cloves.
Process until well blended, then taste for cinnamon. Does it need more? Add accordingly and blend again as needed. Pour the pudding into a bowl, cover with plastic, and chill for at least an hour, until cold and slightly firm.
Serve cold in dessert bowls, with Molasses Cookies. Leftovers keep well for a few days in an airtight container. The pudding may separate slightly, easily remedied by a few stirs.
Pumpkin Pudding Recipe makes 3-1/2 cups of pudding, at least 6 servings
Molasses Cookies Recipe
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
4 tablespoons butter, softened and cut into several pieces
2/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup neutral oil, plus more for sugar-coating the cookies
1/4 cup unsulfured blackstrap molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon very hot water or brewed black coffee
Granulated or raw sugar, for coating cookies
Tools: Stand or handheld mixer, parchment paper, 5-inch dough scraper
Kitchen Notes: Lightly grease a measuring cup before adding the molasses, as it likes to stick.
For more decorative effect, use sugar that’s coarser than granulated. It need not be fancy; turbinado (a.k.a. raw) sugar, readily available in conventional supermarkets, has larger crystals that really sparkle on top of the cookies.
With a stand or handheld mixer, cream the butter with the sugar until well blended and fluffy. Add the oil, followed by the egg, and mix until blended thoroughly. Then add the molasses and vanilla, mixing until just incorporated.
Stir in the dry ingredients by hand: Add the dry ingredients, in thirds, to the wet batter, using a rubber spatula or scraper. Add the hot liquid in between the first and second dry addition. The batter may look as if it needs more liquid, but resist the temptation and give it a few more turns with the spatula until the dry flecks disappear. In fact, the dough will end up sticky and soft.
Lightly dust a silicone baking mat or parchment paper with flour, as well as your hands. Scoop the dough onto your work surface, mold into a cohesive lump, and with the dough scraper, cut the dough into four equal pieces. Shape each piece into a log 5 to 6 inches long and wrap in plastic wrap. Roll the wrapped logs into a more cylindrical shape.
Refrigerate for about 1 hour, until well chilled. Note: The dough can be frozen at this stage. When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator before baking.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Pour about 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar into a saucer, for coating the cookies.
Remove a dough log from the refrigerator, and while still covered in plastic, roll to remove any flat edges. Remove the plastic, and with a serrated knife, cut into disks about 1/2 inch thick. Arrange on the prepared pans, leaving a few inches of space between rows.
Smear a teaspoon of the oil on the bottom of a drinking glass, then dip the glass into the sugar. Press the sugar-coated glass bottom onto each dough disk, to flatten. Dip the glass into the sugar, one by one, for each dough disk. Grease the glass once per dough log.
Bake for about 10 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack, where the cookies will quickly crisp. The cookies keep best in a metal tin or glass jar.
Molasses Cookies Recipe makes about 5 dozen cookies
Discover more meatless holiday recipes from the book: