Usually, I’m not a very jealous person. Jealousy, in my humble opinion, is simply time wasted. Time that you could have spent actually doing sh**, instead of being envious of other people doing sh**. Jealousy brings out the worst in people and that is why I always try to live a jealousy-free life.
There is only one moment every single year that I am truly jealous. And that is when all you Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. To me, a girl who has been living in Belgium her entire life – a country where there is no such thing as Thanksgiving, boohoo! – Thanksgiving seems to be the most decadent of holidays with an (over)abundance of food, family and friendship.
It seems wonderful.
It seems brilliant.
And most of all, it seems like a whole lot of food.
So yes, I am genuinely jealous.
However, instead of letting myself be consumed with jealousy, I decided to tackle the green-eyed monster and turn a negative emotion into a positive one. I decided to get busy and started cooking myself. My very own vegetarian Thanksgiving!
I know that it must be hard to be a vegetarian on Thanksgiving. Especially if you are the only vegetarian in your family and everyone else is digging into a turkey the size of a Kim Kardashian butt.
But if you are a little bit creative, you can enjoy a marvelously decadent, vegetarian Thanksgiving as well. Forget the turkey. Forget the gravy. The following recipes are heartwarming in their own right.
Ps: If you are one of those vegetarian Americans (or American vegetarians), and just had a Thanksgiving with a family who weren’t exactly animal-friendly: take pen and paper and write down the following recipes. Next year’s Thanksgiving will be one big, delicious vegetarian bash, I promise!
Brussels Sprouts Risotto with Stilton and Pecan nuts
What could possibly be more comforting than a risotto? A risotto with fragrant roasted Brussels Sprouts and pungent stilton cheese of course!
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 2 small onions, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, one minced and the other one just bashed
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1 lemon
- 300gr risotto rice
- 500gr Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
- 200ml white wine (the good stuff)
- Vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp cream cheese
- 250gr stilton cheese
- 2 handfuls of pecan nuts
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Heat a knob of butter in a pan and add the Brussels sprouts and the bashed clove of garlic. Season with salt and pepper and some nutmeg. Let them fry for a couple of minutes, until they have a nice colour. Remove from the heat and put the Brussels sprouts in an oven-proof dish together with a couple of strips of the lemon rind. Put in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The Brussels Sprouts should be al dente: tender enough to be enjoyable to eat, but not too mushy.
- Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Add the onion and minced garlic and let it sauté for a couple of minutes. Stir in the rice and let it fry for a couple of minutes on a medium heat.
- Pour in the wine and let the rice absorb all the moisture. Stir in the thyme. Now spoon in the vegetable stock, one ladleful at a time, until the rice is tender.
- Remove the Brussels sprouts from the oven and stir those lovely roasted gems into the risotto together with the cream cheese.
- Finish with a good squeeze of lemon juice. Spoon the risotto onto your plate and scatter some pecans and crumble stilton cheese on top.
Spiced Sweet Potato Mash with Peanut Butter and Ginger and Chili Sautéed Kale
An exotic twist on sweet potato mash. The zingy flavours of ginger and chili kale marry beautifully with the warmth of all the spices in the sweet popato mash. Add to that some good oll’ peanut butter and you just know that this dish will be an instant family favourite.
For the sweet potato mash (serves 1):
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1tbsp honey
For the sautéed kale (serves 1):
- 2-3 large kale leaves, sliced into thin strips
- 2cm piece of fresh ginger
- 1 large chili pepper, finely sliced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp terriyake sauce
- Boil the sweet potato in some salted water until tender. Drain and mash together with the peanut butter, spices and honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remember: it should be a rather sweet and spiced mash, but if it tastes like a dessert, you’ve been a bit too generous 😉 It’s all about a balance of flavours. That is why the combination with the peanut butter works so damn well.
- Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan. Add the kale, ginger, garlic and chili. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté the kale on a medium heat for about 15 minutes –don’t forget to stir, otherwise it will burn – until your kale is tender.
- Stir in the terriyake sauce.
- Serve the sweet potato mash with the fragrant kale.
Spiced Lentil and Pumpkin Stew with Maple syrup and Pecan Brussels Sprouts … and some Feta Cheese
You can’t have a Thanksgiving party without serving at least one pumpkin dish. This lentil and pumpkin stew is spicy and sweet at the same time and works brilliantly with the Brussels sprouts. Even if you are not really a Brussels sprouts fan, you have got to try this recipe. The sprouts were fried with some fragrant pink peppercorns and are coated in a lick of maple syrup. The pecans add extra crunch and all these ingredients together make one explosive Brussels sprouts dish. The stew and the sprouts were finished with a crumbling of feta cheese. This tangy and salty kick lifts this already incredible dish to unseen culinary heights.
Ingredients (serves 1):
For the Brussels sprouts:
- 2 handfuls of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
- ½ tbsp. maple syrup
- ½ tsp pink peppercorns
- Handful of pecan nuts, chopped
For the lentil and butternut stew:
- Handful of lentils
- 1 shallot, finely sliced
- 200gr butternut, cut into large chunks
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- Pinch of chili flakes
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- Vegetable stock
- Feta cheese
- Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a small pan, add the shallot, lentils, chili and cinnamon. Stir and cover with vegetable stock. Let it simmer for 10 minutes before adding the butternut chunks.
- Add some more stock and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the butternut and the lentils are tender. Add vegetable stock once and a while to make sure your lovely stew doesn’t burn. The end result should be “oozy” not “runny”.
- Meanwhile, heat a tbsp. of oil in a frying pan. Add the Brussels Sprouts and the pink peppercorns. Season with salt. Let it fry until golden brown. Turn down the heat and let it fry on a low heat until the sprouts are al dente. Stir in the pecan nuts and maple syrup and stir.
- Serve the stew with the Brussels Sprouts and scatter some feta cheese over the top.