Thanksgiving is almost here, if you can believe it! Although I do love turkey, I don't eat red meat, and I'm almost always partial to vegetarian meal options. Thanksgiving is a perfect time to try some non-meat versions of holiday classics. First, reducing the meatiness of our holidays helps lower our meal's carbon footprint, especially if we opt for veggie dishes that star in-season classics such as Brussels sprouts, potatoes and cabbage. I also love bringing a veggie dish to a potluck holiday meal. It offers something else for those lonely vegetarians to eat, and often introduces meat-eaters to non-meat versions of their favorite dishes, showing you don't need meat for flavor.

If you're vegetarian, hosting vegetarians for the holidays, or simply want to reduce your Thanksgiving's meat quotient, try these delicious vegetarian options. Brussels sprouts (a holiday MUST HAVE for me) made with apples and a maple vinaigrette, roasted squash and stuffing two vegetarian ways (plus bonus mushroom gravy and mushroom stock recipes). Enjoy!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples, Dried Cranberries, Sage and Cider-Maple Vinaigrette 
Serves 4 to 6 

This hearty first course also can be served as a side dish with roasted chicken, turkey or pork chops.

3/4 pound brussels sprouts, stems trimmed, outer leaves removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon butter
2 to 3 apples, cubed
1 tablespoon fresh sage, diced
Fresh sage, for garnish (optional)

Cider-maple vinaigrette
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, or more to taste
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
3/4 cup canola or safflower oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut brussels sprouts in half lengthwise. Rinse and drain thoroughly.
3. Pour olive oil into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, then add sprouts, salt and pepper; toss to blend. Roast 20 to 30 minutes, tossing occasionally, until tender and golden brown. Meanwhile, pour boiling water over cranberries in a bowl. Let stand 10 minutes, then drain.
4. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add apples and sauté 5 to 10 minutes or until tender and lightly browned (but not mushy).
5. To make vinaigrette: Whisk mustard, vinegar and maple syrup until blended. Add oil slowly while whisking constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. To serve: Combine brussels sprouts, apples, cranberries and sage, tossing gently. Divide mixture evenly among 4 to 6 plates. Drizzle with vinaigrette (1 to 2 tablespoons per serving), and serve warm.

Cremini Mushroom, Fennel and Arugula Stuffing 

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