November 13, 2011

A Vegetarian Thanksgiving Feast

After kicking the idea around for the past couple of weeks, I finally made a Thanksgiving-style dinner today.  It was quite fun, and I am still amazed that everything turned out so well.  Granted it is a lot easier preparing a meal for just two people, compared to cooking a big family meal! 

The Menu:
Ciabatta Stuffing
Maple Sweet Potato Puree
Cranberry-Orange Relish
Pear Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
Mini Pecan Tarts

Chris also grilled himself a pork chop, which I was in favor of because he initially wanted to make a turkey which I would have had to share oven space with.

As I mentioned last month, I had a wonderful cranberry-orange relish at my Dad's church during a Harvest Supper.  I made it yesterday for the first time, and it was just as amazing as I remembered.  I also wanted to try a similar NY Times recipe, so I made half a batch of each and loved them both.

According to The New York Times, "The cranberry-orange combo is very high in vitamin C, much of which is lost in cooked cranberry sauce."

Cranberry-Orange Relish Recipe
12oz fresh cranberries
1 whole navel orange, skin included
1 cup sugar

On Saturday, I cut the ciabatta bread so it could dry out overnight.  I spread it in an even layer on a 12x17 baking sheet, then put it in the oven and put a post-it note over the on button, so I wouldn't mistakenly turn the oven on.  Approximately 24 hours later, the bread was perfect for stuffing.

The original recipe calls for pancetta, and the chef in my cooking class last week mentioned that you could add more vegetables for a vegetarian option such as peppers, tomatoes or mushrooms, but I wanted a stuffing that tasted more traditional.

Ciabatta Stuffing Recipe
1lb (6-8 cups) ciabatta bread, cut into 3/4" cubes
4 tablespoons butter
2 large onions, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 teaspoons dried sage
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup vegetable broth
2 large eggs, beaten
salt & pepper

I love mashed potatoes, but standard potatoes aren't exactly a healthy Chris loves to remind me.  So I was excited to sample a maple sweet potato puree in the same cooking class last week that tasted even better than mashed potatoes. 

Plus, it is really easy to make! Just boil the potatoes, and add to a food processor with maple syrup and a little butter.  This dish easily reheats, which makes it ideal for Thanksgiving.

Maple Sweet Potato Puree Recipe
4 large sweet potatoes
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon butter
salt & pepper

The pear salad I made is a modified version of the delicious salad that my friend Claire made recently.  I didn't have any fresh raspberries, but I loved the combination of pear and raspberry flavors, so I added raspberry jam to the dressing.

Pear Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette Recipe
8 cups baby spinach, red leaf lettuce or a mix of the two
2 Bosc or Anjou pears, quartered lengthwise, cored, and thinly sliced
2 oz. Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp whole-grain mustard
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp raspberry jam

For dessert, I made mini pecan tarts, and it was the perfect sized dessert after a very filling dinner.  I've never had pecan pie, but I imagine that these taste very similar.

1/2 cup butter, softened
3oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecans, finely chopped


  1. Oh my this all looks so delicious!!! I want all of it!

  2. That's quite a spread! Looks delicious!