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Thanksgiving menu: Vegetarian dishes to please any crowd

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Contrary to popular belief, meat is not a Thanksgiving prerequisite. These dishes are a delicious alternative. 

More Thanksgiving menus: Make ahead | Last minute | Simple | With a twist | Americana | Cooking for twoVegan | Calorie conscious | WaPo Favorites

Roasted Sunchoke and Celery Root Soup

Roasting concentrates the flavors in this root-vegetable soup, which gets a mysterious depth from za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend.

  • 2 pounds sunchokes, scrubbed well and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 12 ounces celeriac (celery root), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 small onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic (unpeeled)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for optional garnish
  • 2 teaspoons za’atar (see headnote)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 cups homemade or no-salt-added vegetable broth

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Toss together the sunchokes, celery root, onion, garlic, oil, za’atar and salt in a roasting pan, making sure the vegetables are evenly coated. Roast until they are very soft, 35 to 40 minutes.

Pick out and reserve 1/2 cup of just sunchokes and celery root (combined). Cool, then chop them for a garnish.

Pick out the roasted garlic cloves from the remaining mixture, and squeeze them out of their papery skins (discard the skins). Scrape the remaining contents of the roasting pan into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add the roasted garlic cloves and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the mixture is barely bubbling around the edges. Cover and cook for just a few minutes, stirring, so the flavors can meld.

Use an immersion (stick) blender to create a thick, textured soup (see headnote). Divide among individual bowls and top with the sunchoke-celery root garnish. Drizzle a little oil on each portion, if desired, and serve hot.

Moroccan-Style Carrot and Beet Salad

Finely grating the carrots and beets (both of them raw) helps them absorb the orange juice and spices, making for a vibrant, fresh counterpoint to the rich foods of the holiday table.

  • 8 ounces carrots, scrubbed well and finely grated
  • 8 ounces beets, peeled and finely grated
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch ground cayenne pepper (optional)

Toss together the carrots, beets, orange zest and juice in a mixing bowl. Drizzle in the oil, then toss to coat. Sprinkle in the cumin, paprika, salt and cayenne, if using, then toss to incorporate. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Kale and Butternut Squash Gratin

This is a creamy and rich way to treat fall’s deeply colored vegetables.

SERVINGS: 8 – 10
  • 2 medium butternut squash (about 3 pounds), cut in half and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 8 ounces kale (stems trimmed and large ribs removed), rinsed and cut into thin slices
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch allspice
  • Leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons panko (japanese) bread crumbs
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Use butter to lightly grease a large (2 1/2-quart) gratin dish.

Peel the squash, then cut it crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the kale, still slightly damp, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, until it has wilted. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 45 to 60 seconds, until it is fragrant.

Place half of the sliced squash in the prepared gratin dish; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Combine the nutmeg, allspice and thyme in a small bowl.

Place the kale over the squash and sprinkle with half of the nutmeg-thyme mixture. Top with the remaining squash and sprinkle with the remaining nutmeg-thyme mixture.

Pour the cream over the vegetables; cover the gratin dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for about 45 minutes, until tender.

While the vegetables are baking, combine the panko bread crumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in a small bowl.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Discard the foil from the gratin dish and use a spatula to press down on the mixture. Sprinkle the bread crumb-cheese mixture over the vegetables. Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Tamari-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Tamari, a mild variety of soy sauce that contains less wheat than other varieties (and sometimes none at all), gives Brussels sprouts a sharp tang, while toasted sesame oil adds a hint of smokiness. Roasting adds caramelization.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup tamari (see headnote)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon southeast asian fish sauce (optional)
  • 3 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Have one or two large rimmed baking sheets at hand.

Whisk together the oil, tamari, sesame oil and fish sauce, if using, in a small bowl.

Spread the Brussels sprouts on the baking sheet(s); keep them to one layer, with room for air circulation in between the sprouts. Drizzle the tamari mixture over them and toss to coat. Roast, shaking the pan every 5 minutes or so, until the vegetables are crisp and browned, about 20 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Portobello Mushroom, Pecan and Chestnut Wellington

Impressive, decadent and easy to assemble, this is the perfect vegetarian entree for Thanksgiving or other celebratory meals. If you want to make it vegan, choose a vegan puff pastry, such as Pepperidge Farm, and use soy cream to seal the pastry.



  • 3 to 4 large portobello mushrooms (1 1/2 pounds), stemmed
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 7 ounces cooked, peeled chestnuts (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 1/3 cups fresh white bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed


  • 14 ounces store-bought puff pastry dough (all-butter unless you are vegan), defrosted
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (may substitute soy cream)

For the mushrooms: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Use a teaspoon to gently scrape off the dark gills from the underside of the portobello caps. Arrange the caps, gill side up, on the baking sheet; scatter with the garlic, thyme and rosemary; then drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast until the mushrooms are browned and tender but still holding their shape, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool, then tip off and drain any collected liquid. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate.

Once the baking sheet itself cools, wipe it off and replace the parchment with a fresh piece of parchment paper.

For the filling: Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, rosemary and thyme. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is very soft and starting to brown, 15 minutes. Pour in the wine, and stir in the sugar until it has dissolved. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

Combine the pecans and chestnuts in a food processor; pulse until reduced to small pieces. Transfer to the bowl with the onion mixture, along with the bread crumbs, toasted sesame oil and salt.

Cut the mushrooms in half, and reserve all but one of the halves to form the center of your Wellington. Cut the remaining half into small chunks and add those to the bowl for the filling. Use your hands to thoroughly mix the filling. Taste, and add toasted sesame oil and/or salt as needed.

When ready to assemble, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly flour a large piece of parchment paper. Roll out the puff pastry dough on it to form a 10-by-14-inch rectangle that’s about 1/8 inch thick. Trim the edges of the dough to make it tidy; reserve the excess for decorating the top of the Wellington.

Spoon half of the filling mixture lengthwise down the center of the dough and spread it out evenly, leaving a border of 2 to 3 inches all around. Arrange the portobello halves evenly over the mixture down the middle of the dough, then cover with the remaining filling. (You may have more filling and/or mushrooms than you need; save them for another use.)

Brush the borders of the dough with a little cream. Fold over the ends and sides to wrap the dough around the filling. (Use the parchment paper to help if needed.) The dough should overlap in the middle; stretch it gently if needed. If there is a gap, use your excess dough to cover it, using cream to hold it in place. Use the parchment paper to lift the Wellington onto the prepared baking sheet, turning it over so the seam is on the bottom. Brush the dough with more cream and use the trimmings to make stars, leaves or other decorative shapes, and place them on the top, brushing them with cream.

Bake the Wellington until puffed, golden brown and heated through, 60 to 75 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Cut into thick slices and serve warm or at room temperature.

Garam Masala Pumpkin Tart

A state dinner for the prime minister of India inspired this tart. Chef Marcus Samuelsson recommends serving it with a buttermilk sorbet. He has since updated the recipe, adding a touch of garam masala to the pie crust dough and turning the bits of extra baked dough into a delicious crumble topping. You’ll need a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.



  • 1 1/2 cups flour, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala, toasted (see NOTE)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water


  • 4 large eggs
  • 15 ounces canned pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala, toasted (see NOTE)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, plus more for optional drizzling
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons, plus the juice of 1 lemon
  • One 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup half-and-half


  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • Sorbet or ice cream (optional)

For the crust: Combine the flour, salt, garam masala and lemon zest in a food processor; pulse once or twice to blend. Add the butter and pulse just until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 2 tablespoons of the ice water; pulse just until the dough comes together in a ball. Add some or all the remaining ice water as needed, 1 teaspoon at a time.

Lightly flour a work surface. Turn the dough out onto it; knead it for 15 seconds or so. If the dough seems sticky, work in a little flour. Shape the dough into a smooth disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.

Roll out the dough on the floured surface (re-flour as needed) into a 12 1/2-inch round, moving the dough as you work to make sure it doesn’t stick. Transfer it to the tart pan, draping the dough over the edges. Do not trim; you’ll be baking and using those extra bits of dough to make crumbles. Gently press the dough into the pan and around the sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line the unbaked tart shell with aluminum foil (shiny side down) and fill it with pie weights or dried beans/rice. Bake for 18 minutes or until lightly browned, then transfer to the stove top (off the heat). Remove the foil and weight material.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl, then whisk in the pumpkin puree. Gradually add the light brown sugar, then the garam masala, salt, maple syrup, lemon zest and juice, ginger and vanilla extract. Whisk in the half-and-half until thoroughly incorporated.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Place the parbaked tart shell on a baking sheet. Pour the filling into the shell. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the filling is almost set; it should still jiggle just a bit at the center. Transfer the tart (in its pan) to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes before removing the outer ring.

Meanwhile, knock off the excess baked bits of dough and gather them in a bowl. Combine the confectioners’ sugar and garam masala in a separate small bowl. Stir some of the spiced sugar into the bits of dough; use a fork or spatula to create crumbles.

Sift the remaining spiced sugar on top of the tart. To serve, top each slice with some crumbles, and sorbet or ice cream and a drizzle of maple syrup, if desired.

NOTE: Toast the garam masala in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for about 30 seconds, or just until fragrant. Cool completely before using.