The December holiday season is rolling quickly towards us and with it come festivities with family and friends and the inevitable foods of celebration. Unhappily the traditional foods we prepare at this time of year are not usually at the top of the healthy check list.
Whatever holiday you may be celebrating, the centerpiece of your meal is often a golden-brown stuffed turkey. Sometimes it seems hard to forsake such a long-standing and delicious custom but it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might think. It helps to have tasty plant-based choices up your sleeve.
A traditional Christmas dinner is the sum of many different parts. In our house, we delight in velvety mashed potatoes, golden roasted carrots and parsnips, festive carmelized Brussels sprouts, garlicky green beans and plant-based stuffing with our rich plant-based gravy to enhance the experience. In fact the only customary food not gracing our table is the turkey itself. And it is not even missed among the bounty of tastes awaiting us on our festive table.
On the day of the big feast we cook our vegetables, brew up our savoury vegan gravy and make stuffing cooked in a covered dish instead of a turkey. Voila! A delectable and satisfying dinner to share with family and friends without the animal-based foods that we no longer eat.
Here are our recipes for plant-based stuffing and gourmet gravy.
PLANT-BASED CHRISTMAS STUFFING
Makes about 12 cups
12 slices whole wheat bread or 12 whole wheat dinner rolls, broken into small pieces
Wine or apple juice
2 medium onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped in small pieces
5 or 6 mushrooms, chopped in small pieces
2 tsp poultry seasoning
2 tsp sage
2 tsp thyme
Wine or apple juice
Tear bread or buns into small pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.
In a heavy frying pan, heat a couple of tablespoonsful of wine or apple juice mixed with a couple of tablespoonsful of water.
Over medium heat, sauté onions, garlic, celery and mushrooms until softened (about 5 minutes), adding wine/water mixture when needed to keep bottom of pan moist. Add spices. Continue sautéing while stirring to mix spices in.
Add 2 to 3 tbsp soy sauce. Continue sautéing a few more minutes until mixture is just starting to brown.
Add vegetable mixture to the bowl of bread pieces and mix together well.
Taste and adjust spicing to your liking.
Spray your “turkey” (a large casserole dish that has a lid) with spray oil. Place stuffing in dish and cover.
Bake about 1 hour at 300 degrees.
Remove the lid for the last ten minutes of baking for a crispy brown crust.
SAVOURY PLANT-BASED GRAVY
½ cup red wine or apple juice
1/3 cup chopped onion
5 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
4 tbsp or more of nutritional yeast
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp rubbed rosemary
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2 – 3 tbsp Veloutine (or flour) to thicken
Heat a small amount of wine in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Saute onion and garlic until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Stir in soy sauce & continue sautéing.
Add nutritional yeast, broth, rest of the wine and spices.
Bring to a boil.
Add Veloutine and stir to thicken.
Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until thickened.