Vegetarians can find a lot to love about Thanksgiving, too. There are all those sides, for one thing. But if you’re a meat-free household, love a vegetarian, or are one, consider having a vegetable-first feast… and apologizing to absolutely no one. These are the recipes, all featuring seasonal produce, that we get excited about this time of year. They’re the sorts of beauties that anyone, including carnivores, would delight to see on the table.
As pretty as an autumnal centerpiece, roasted acorn squash with farro has all the flavors you crave this time of year. There’s nutty, protein-and-fiber-packed farro, that whole grain beloved in Italy. There’s sweet acorn squash, fried sage leaves, juicy pomegranate seeds and pungent fennel, too. Oh, and plenty of butter. (Bring on the butter!)
Meaty as all get out, these braised lentils with squash, mushrooms and baby kale are a far cry from the ho-hum pasta primavera your vegetarian family member expected you to bust out this year. It’s stunning, for one thing, and can feature any mushroom from hen-of-the-woods to shiitake to portobello. Lentils cook in a flash, and in this preparation, so does the sweet delicata squash. A turmeric-spiked yogurt is a luxurious finishing touch.
When was the last time you had really good roast cauliflower? Remember that flavor, and then add the best word in the English language to that memory: “fried.” Crispy cauliflower steaks with lemon and Parmesan treats cauli like chicken cutlets. You dip it in egg and mustard, “bread” it in panko, and briefly pan-fry it before tossing it into the oven. It emerges crispy as fried shrimp. Garnish with lemon and fresh soft herbs, dig in, enjoy the crunch, and love your life.
For a while, there, you couldn’t swing a cannolo without hitting an Italian restaurant that had pumpkin ravioli with sage butter on the menu. (Or butternut squash; remember?) There’s a reason it was trendy for decades, and there’s no reason for something so sultry and fabulous to go out of style: It’s so good. Ravioli are not that hard to make, amazingly, if you roll out the dough to the right thickness. These flavors always go together: clarified butter; sweet pumpkin; sage; Parmigiano-Reggiano. Something about homemade pasta just says “I love you.”
The colors of a traditional Thanksgiving cornucopia are present in beautiful braised chickpeas and carrots with yogurt topping. With flavors loosely recalling Indian cuisine, it mingles cumin, cinnamon and ginger with raisins, chickpeas, quinoa. Olive oil-sautéed carrots provide a soft, sweet note, and a finishing dollop of yogurt makes the whole thing feel luxe. Exactly right for T Day.
Vegetarians like spicy things, too, but be sure to taste your harissa before slathering it on the squash in this bright, slightly spicy fregola with cauliflower, delicata squash and harissa dish. It’s glorious, and interesting, and inspired by the cuisine of North Africa. Fregola, toasted spheres of pasta from Sardinia, make a neat textural contrast to supple delicata. A flurry of cilantro brightens the whole thing.
Lasagna is forever a labor of love, but you’ll save time serving mushroom lasagna with Gruyère bechamel family-style. (It also evokes “oohs” and “aahs” when you place it on the table on a trivet.) This recipe is a knockout, featuring a silky Gruyère and Parmesan bechamel that is simply glorious. Straight from the recipe: “Layer the noodles, bechamel, mushrooms and cheese three more times, ending with a final layer of noodles and cheese.” How marvelous does that sound? This dish is as good as it looks.