Looking to change up the holiday menu this year? Whether your table craves a fresh, new dish to wow the crowd or you’re hosting vegetarian or vegan guests, consider going meatless or serving up more plant-based dishes. Not to worry, this doesn’t have to mean bucking tradition. Most any dish can easily be made without meat, and many holiday favorites are vegetarian already! The holidays are built around tradition, so they present the perfect opportunity to create new ones, even if they’re simply meatless versions of longtime favorites. Don’t be surprised when no one misses the meat!
The supporting cast
The real stars of holiday spreads are almost always the side dishes — cranberry relish, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole. Many traditional favorites have always been meatless, while others are easy to adapt with one or two plant-based ingredient swaps. If you are adapting any recipes that typically call for meat or meat-based ingredients, such as chicken or beef stock, have some plant-based alternatives on hand for easy vegetarian or vegan swaps, such as vegetable stock, non-dairy milk, cream, yogurt, butter, or cheese, egg substitute or aquafaba (cooked chickpea liquid), as well as ingredients to substitute for meat.
The main event
If your traditional holiday meals are built around a meat-based main dish, such as ham, prime rib, or turkey, they may not be easily replicated, but there are meatless stand-ins. One option is to make a roast-like loaf that may be made with any number of plant ingredients that are meaty in texture.
You may also choose to purchase a meatless roast, such as those that mimic turkey or ham. Be sure to check the ingredients list, as they may contain unwanted ingredients, such as binders, added sugars and salt, colors, and preservatives.
Another option is to center your table with a showstopper savory entrée, like shepherd’s pie, using mushrooms and lentils or walnuts in place of ground beef, or pot pie made with hardy root vegetables, like carrots, potatoes, and onions in a thick sauce that will satisfy as well as chicken.
Other countries’ holiday classics are wonderful inspiration as well. Try traditional Mexican tamales made with green chilis, black beans, and cheese or an enchilada casserole with beans, cheese, and roasted vegetables. Italian pasta dishes, such as meatless lasagna made with winter vegetables, like butternut squash, are delicious and filling, as is a Spanish-inspired paella of brightly colored tomatoes and peppers with hearty mushrooms on a warmly spiced platter of rice.
Plant-forward dishes bring variety and more choice to the holiday table, ensuring there is something for everybody to enjoy. Whether you’re serving no meat or just cutting back on it, a plant-based feast is sure to please.
(Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384. www.EnvironmentalNutrition.com.)
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