Ava Szjana-Hopgood | Contributing Writer | Sunday, 22 November 2015

A Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner That\\\\\\\'ll Blow Your Housemates\\\\\\\' Tiny Minds

A Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner That'll Blow Your Housemates' Tiny Minds

The Debrief: How to make a delicious turkey-free dinner to celebrate a holiday that is nothing to do with our country at all

Yes, I know the very idea of celebrating Thanksgiving in the UK is definitely enough to get your Mum to roll her eyes to the ceiling. But calling time on autumn evenings lost to Netflix and which-take-away-is-it-not-too-embarrassing-to-order-twice-in-a-week-from convos can actually be a good thing. Thanksgiving in the US takes place on 27th November, Canada had theirs back in mid-October, and you can have yours whenever you damn please: it’s just a great excuse to get your favourite mates around to eat way too much and go home with leftovers. And hey- if you don’t feel like doing the whole ‘what are you thankful for’ vibe around the table (it’s always the part that makes my stiff upper lip cringe), the chances are that with a room full of ace people and pumpkin pie, you’ve already got your answer.

If you’ve ever lived with someone from the States, you’ll know they have mad respect for things British cooking often overlooks. The power of a can of soup as a starter for sauce. The fact spaghetti can also be used as noodles. And my personal fave: the endless versatility of Ritz crackers.

I’ve gathered up three main players for a vegan Thanksgiving dinner. The panko-crusted seitan is a really good alternative to turkey, and will take you ten minutes to make instead of any number of hours. Oh, and yes, I have tested its Thanksgiving-leftovers sandwich ability, and all I can say is that it is UP THERE. Pret, gimme a call.

The sweet potato casserole is topped with crackers and lots of nuts, giving it a bit more of a nutritional punch than the traditional marshmallows, but hey, gild that lily if the mood takes you and pile on whatever you fancy. For pudding, pumpkin pie is the way to go. I tracked down tinned pumpkin in my local Tesco’s ‘World Food’ section, but if you can’t find it, boil chunks of pumpkin, let them cool, sieve them so it’s like a puree, and make sure you have about 650g of pumpkin. V.wholesome. Just remember to get your tins of coconut milk in the fridge the night before, and you’ll be all set.

For side dish ideas, try braised red cabbage, pan-fried kale and cavolo nero, a good cranberry sauce, some bread rolls or US-style biscuits if you have time, and a white mushroom gravy (it’s kind of an American roux sauce, making this extra rich and OTT). If all that sounds like a lot of work, just email each of your mates with one of these dishes, and keep your attention on the seitan prize.

Crispy panko and maple syrup seitan

Makes eight cutlets

400g of seitan- find it in health food shops or check in Holland & Barrett, where they also sell V Bites’ Meat Free Turkey Roast, which is just a pack of seitan and some extra flavouring

For the marinade:
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar is fine)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp egg replacer like Ener-G or Organ

For the dry bowl:
2 cloves garlic, crushed into a puree
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp paprika
2 tbsp plain flour
Salt and pepper- well seasoned

Plus plenty of panko bread crumbs and sunflower oil for frying.

This seitan only takes ten minutes to make, so get your kitchen set up beforehand so you’re ready to fry. You’ll need a bowl for the marinade, a bowl for the spices and flour, and a final bowl for the panko breadcrumbs. Have them ready by a frying pan and pour in enough sunflower oil just to cover the bottom of the pan for now. You can top it up as you cook, but you won’t need to deep fry the seitan so don’t need loads of oil.

Get a plate handy with some kitchen roll on it to drain off excess oil once the seitan is ready. Then slice up your seitan into roughly 1cm thick slices. If you’re buying the V-Bites turkey roast version, I cut the joint in half, and then slice- as each cutlet is very filling!

Now dip each slice into the marinade, then the spice and flour mix (you may need to pat it down if it’s picking up a lot of this- it only needs a light covering) and then dip in the panko and pack on the crumbs. Heat the oil in the frying pan so a little bit of panko dropped in sizzles to the surface, and once it’s hot enough, add in the seitan pieces. I usually do three at a time to avoid overcrowding in the pan.

Each piece only needs a minute or two on each side, and make sure the pan doesn’t get too hot or the panko will start to burn. Once both sides are golden and crispy, take out and drain off the oil on the kitchen roll, and you’re ready to serve.

Sweet potato casserole topped with Ritz crackers, pecans and walnuts

Makes enough for eight


For the mash:
800g sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
100g potato, peeled and chopped into large chunks
250ml soy cream (Alpro works well here)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp vegan margarine

For the topping:
150g crumbled Ritz crackers
2 tbsp vegan margarine
150g chopped nuts- a mix of walnuts and pecans works really well
2 tbsp brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Boil the sweet potatoes and regular potatoes in salted water until soft. Drain and mash, combining the cream, sugar, cinnamon and margarine in, so it becomes a really creamy consistency. Pack into a greased casserole dish.
Now blend the Ritz crackers, margarine, nuts and sugar. Sprinkle on top of the mash and bake for half an hour in the oven- remove just before the topping gets darker than a deep brown.

This will keep really well for days on end- and if you fancy making it a bit lighter, you can also halve the topping amounts and it will still be super filling and more-ish.

Pumpkin pie with whipped coconut cream and crushed Oreos

Makes eight large slices

300g Jus-Rol shortcrust pastry (or similar vegan brand of shortcrust pastry)

For the filling:
1 and ½ x 425g tins of pumpkin puree (such as Libby’s), or around 650g of homemade pumpkin puree
60ml maple syrup
60g brown sugar
100ml almond milk
1 tbsp olive oil or melted coconut oil
2 and ½ tbsp cornflour
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp sea salt

For the whipped coconut cream:
2x 400g tins of coconut milk with high coconut milk content- look for 60% or more in the ingredients list. Light or low fat coconut milk won’t do the trick, you essentially want the creamiest, fattiest liquid coconut milk you can find to make this whipped cream.
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence

Plus crushed Oreos for crumbling on top, or maple syrup to drizzle

** THE NIGHT BEFORE**= Place both your tins of coconut milk in the fridge to chill.

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease a pie or flan tin (I use a 26cm one with a removeable base which works really well with this proportion of ingredients. If yours is a little bit bigger, you might get a thinner pie, but it’s no worry really!).
Roll out the shortcrust pastry so you’ve got enough to cover the tin, and then carefully push it into place around the edges. If there are any cracks, just patch it over with a bit of extra pastry from the edges- you should have some left in the pack for any repairs! Cut around the edges of the pastry to make a neat crust, and set aside.
To make the filling, add all of the filling ingredients to a blender and combine, or do so by hand.
Pour the filling into the pie dish, and bake for just under an hour, or until the top has gone a golden brown colour but before it starts to burn.

Remove the pie from the oven (it may have a little wobble to it- that’s a good sign!) and allow to cool for half an hour. Then set in the fridge for 4-6 hours, or overnight if you can.
When you’re ready to serve, get the coconut milk out of the fridge, open up the cans, and spoon out the solid part of the coconut milk, leaving any watery parts in the can (you can save this for smoothies or to use in soups). Blend the creamy milk with icing sugar and vanilla until it resembles thick whipped cream.

Take the pumpkin pie out of the fridge, slice into pieces, and add a dollop of cream on top. Finish with a sprinkle of crushed Oreos or a drizzle of maple syrup.

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

Yes, You Can Eat Pasta. Cindy Crawford (And Science) Says So

The Lunch You Can Make To Eat All Week When All Your Pots And Pans Are Dirty

We GIF The Porniest Moments On Jamie’s Comfort Food
Follow Ava on Twitter @Guacandroll or over on her blog Guac And Roll

Tags: Food, Food Glorious Food, ReciPLEASE, Recipes