At Serious Eats, we firmly believe that a meatless Thanksgiving can actually be a tastier Thanksgiving, one in which your precious stomach is all about real stars of the show: the sides.
But Thanksgiving always requires a centerpiece, and we’ve got you covered on that front, too. Armed with this collection of recipes, we’re confident you can make the cheesy, creamy, rich, but totally turkey-free or any other meat-free Thanksgiving of your dreams. For more Thanksgiving recipes and tips, check out our full Thanksgiving guide.
Thanksgiving Stuffed Roasted Pumpkins
These pumpkins are architectural marvels of stuffed vegetables. The completely edible exterior, which you can brush with a honey-miso glaze, contains a blend of roasted kabocha squash, mushrooms, kale, and cheese, which is more than appropriate for the holidays. One of the best things about this main dish is that it can be made up to two days in advance, giving you plenty of time to focus on everything else.
The best squash lasagna
Roasted squash is really delicious. But you know what’s even better? Mashed roasted squash with cream cheese and butter; spread on lasagna noodles; covered with sautéed apple cubes seasoned with sage and more squash; drizzled with a white sauce made from Gruyère; layered with it all over and over again; then topped with more cheese and sauce. Yeah. You will like this one.
Creamy Roasted Broccoli Soup with Buttermilk and Spicy Nuggets
If the word “broccoli” tends to conjure up a hellscape of limp, bland stems, it’s time to revisit classic brassica. Rather than blanching or steaming our broccoli, we start by roasting it until tender and brown, for a deeper, more complex flavor. A splash of tangy buttermilk adds brightness and acidity, not to mention a creamy texture, to the mix. Pureed with sautéed onions and a seasoning blend of coriander, red pepper flakes, cumin, mustard seeds and turmeric, the resulting soup packs a powerful punch. But hey, if that’s not exaggerated enough for you, you can always give our broccoli and cheddar soup a shot instead.
Crispy mashed potatoes
Many potato recipes claim that they will get crispy, but we can’t count the number of times a so-called crispy potato has turned into a soft, squishy mush within minutes of coming out of the oven. But here the idea is simple: boil pieces of potatoes in salted water until tender, mix them in a large bowl with a little fat using a fork to mash and roughen their surfaces, then roast them until crisp. The boiling and bashing steps are essential because they add surface area to the potato pieces, allowing them to roast with a thick, ultra-crispy shell. They’re crispier than the best fries and packed with great roasted flavor.
In our opinion, cauliflower is one of the best winter vegetables. Here, the cauliflower florets are coated in a velvety morning sauce-A Bechamel enriched with semi-firm cheeses like Swiss, Gruyère or Parmigiano-Reggiano, then topped with breadcrumbs. A touch of miso paste also brings a deep, savory flavor to the sauce.
Whether you roast them or sauté them, the biggest challenge of cooking mushrooms is dealing with their spongy texture and high moisture content: they tend to steam in their own liquid, rather than getting the flavors rich and golden that we associate with roasted vegetables. Fortunately, the solution is simple, simple and quick (we’re talking 25 minutes on the stove). With this basic technique, you can customize the mushrooms however you like: use onion instead of shallot, omit the garlic, replace the thyme with another woody herb like rosemary, or deglaze with juice of lemon. If you are adding a more delicate fresh herb like parsley or chives, I recommend doing so off the heat just before serving. The important thing is that with this solid method, perfect sautéed mushrooms are always at hand.
Extra-creamy pumpkin pie
Pumpkin is not a universally loved flavor, but even pumpkin haters will make an exception for this pie. With ground nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger, it’s spicy, sweet, and autumnal enough to satisfy lovers of all things pumpkin; but bright, tart and tangy enough to maintain broader appeal. Its superior flavor and remarkably velvety texture come from a generous dose of cream cheese, which holds the dessert together just shy of the cloying territory.