Vegetarian on Thanksgiving? Now hear this.

Some days I get a little jealous of vegetarians. They’re conscientious objectors, which confers a certain measure of instant awesomeness. They can look a pig in the eye, which I bet would come in handy more often than you’d think. They don’t have to willfully ignore the clear reality that the steaks they get from their pastured meats CSA have the texture of extra-sturdy rubber bands. Unless they eat nothing but cheese, which is what I would do as a vegetarian, they probably have excellent HDL and LDL cholesterol levels. And if they’re like Umami Boy, maybe they’ve lost 40 pounds or so since they gave up eating meat. It’s not that I’d want to be a full-grown adult with a weight in the double digits and what I can only assume would be a completely concave bust, but who doesn’t enjoy making a brazen claim of self-achievement from time to time? “I’ve lost 40 pounds!” I’m automatically jealous.

On Thanksgiving, though, I’m not jealous at all. It isn’t so much the turkey flesh itself that sets my mouth a-gleek. But at your average Thanksgiving table, it’s just about everything else. Our two kinds of stuffing contain at least five kinds of meat between them. Some of the best Brussels sprouts are cooked with bacon. And what are mashed potatoes without gravy? On Thanksgiving, at least where I eat, I think it would be very hard to be vegetarian and not feel like an afterthought.

Every year there seem to be one or two more vegetarians at the Thanksgiving table than the year before, so every year I spend a little early-November time thinking about meatless main dishes that pack a serious savory punch. Last year’s Acorn Squash Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce went over better than your average turkey can fly. This year, among others (coming soon to a blog near you!), I’m thinking Warm Farro with Broccoli and Shiitakes. With mushrooms, soy sauce and parmesan cheese, this is one of the meatiest meatless dishes in recent memory. You could serve it spooned into roasted squash halves for a festive presentation or add a cup or two of cooked French lentils to up the protein. Whatever you do, I think the vegetarians at your table will feel well loved. As long as the carnivores don’t get to it first.

P.S. Do you like the sneak peek of our new kitchen countertop in the photo background there? That little semi-DIY kitchen project we were working on turned into a down-to-the-studs renovation of half the house, which is getting dangerously close to finished. I’m excited to unveil the results soon!

Carolyn xx

  • Sounds like a great vegetarian dish for Thanksgiving or any day! Love the nuttiness of farro with mushrooms.ReplyCancel

  • Sounds fab! We LOVED the lasagne last year… and I’m sure this will be fantastic! & I’m with you on the instant jealousy thing! ;o)ReplyCancel

  • Oh god I’ve been puzzling over what to do about Thanksgiving. I’ve been slowly phasing meat out of my diet, or rather trying to make my consumption of meat be extremely thoughtful, but when the holidays roll around I know I’ll have to throw caution to the wind. I hate the idea of sitting around the table at Thanksgiving and refusing the food that my family eats together. Or maybe I just can’t resist the smell of a freshly roasted turkey with all the fixings.

    Meanwhile that broccoli dish looks awesome. I can’t wait to make it on some non-Thanksgiving night.ReplyCancel

  • there is something about the farro nuttines that make it so versatile. Last week I prepare it with aubergines and a lemon vinaigrette. I will try your recipe soon.

    ps. I can imagine how difficult must be to properlu celebrate a Thanksgiving being vegetarian (or celiac). Vegetarians will be very happy with your recipe.ReplyCancel

  • Leslie

    I’m a vegan and have happily enjoyed my personal meals without Turkey for five or six years now. The sides are what does it for me and there are so many to choose from. My biggest problem comes with dealing with an animal carcass on the table meant to feed others.

    I appreciate the almost-vegan recipe and will try this with Soy-mage instead. :)

    PS: My cholesterol is still above 300! It’s a bad genes thing, but still.ReplyCancel

  • As a former veghead there are some fabulous side dishes out there. But there is a recipe for a vegan gravy in the book Passionate Vegetarian that is the best gravy I’ve ever had in my entire life – meaty juices or not!ReplyCancel

  • Forget Thanksgiving, I’m making this for myself!ReplyCancel

  • Leslie, I think this would be equally good with the cheese simply left out. It’s a bit of overkill, to be honest. Not that I shy away from that sort of thing…. And I am sorry to hear about your cholesterol!

    Corrina, what kind of gravy is it? I’m a big fan of mushroom gravy when there are no meat juices in question.ReplyCancel

  • Layla

    Fantastic – I signed up for 2 sides this Thanksgiving and I think it will be this one, and last year’s cream-braised brussels sprouts (huge hit)! Have printed out your leek soup from last week but need an immersion blender.ReplyCancel

  • The recipe sounds yummy. I didn’t like broccoli growing up, but now I love it. It is so healthy (and not one of the dirty dozen that need to be organic). I will definitely try this recipe in the next few days before Thanksgiving!

    Btw, love the kitchen countertop. Very simple and clean looking, but not boring.ReplyCancel

  • Layla, if you’ve got a regular blender, that works too. xxReplyCancel

  • […] the parmesan cheese, and it’s vegan (and still totally savory). Find the full post and recipe here, and don’t forget to check out all of the World Vegan Month posts. Happy Friday! Print, […]ReplyCancel

  • I haven’t tried farro before but have had my eye out for a delicious recipe using it. Can’t wait to try this! That lasagna looks really good too!ReplyCancel

  • […] the “Lemongrass and Honey Pork Stir-Fry,” from, along with the “Farro with Broccoli,” from Sounds wonderful. Come back to my site soon to see this meal. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] I sing the farro love song. The “Farro with Broccoli,” from, is a smooth celebration of farro and shiitake mushrooms. Farro tastes […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Warm Farro with Broccoli and Shiitakes […]ReplyCancel

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