Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes From Three Star Chefs
Mr Tim Anderson’s Japanese Style Celeriac Steak. Photograph by Ms Nassima Rothacker, courtesy of Hardie Grant.
The cultural shift towards a plant-based diet for both ethical and ecological reasons has seen a vegan food revolution and any tired associations with bland lentil stews, hempseeds and dour black bean patties have been left in the past.
Mr Neil Rankin, a chef formerly known for his uncompromisingly carnivorous ventures, now heads up Symplicity – a plant based food company that uses fermented vegetables to make everything from sausages to burgers. Meanwhile, over at Rovi in Fitzrovia, vegetables are pushed to the centre of the table with dishes like the Jerusalem Grill, which is packed with umami mushrooms, baharat onions, pickles and tahini to satisfy even the most committed carnivores.
And Mr Daniel Humm, the chef behind three-Michelin-star restaurant Eleven Madison Park, sent shockwaves through the food industry earlier in the year when he announced his decision to go 100 per cent plant-based post pandemic. There’s no denying that there is more inspiration than ever for serving up plants cooked in innovative and delicious ways.
Cooking vegan this Thanksgiving is also much more economical, plus it will inspire you to be more creative with dishes that burst with the flavours of the seasonal harvest. We asked some of our favourite vegetable forward chefs to offer some tips and celebratory meat-free recipes for Thanksgiving dinner.
Don’t approximate meat
“Just think outside the box a bit,” says chef and restaurateur Mr Tim Anderson. “You don’t have to try and make some sort of vegan mock turkey, because there are plenty of vegetable dishes that are just as satisfying without having to rely on dubious substitutions. Go for hearty root vegetables, brassicas, and sweet, dense ingredients like plantains, pumpkins and sweet potatoes. You don’t need to do too much to these things to make them delicious. Also, think about what you might be making that’s very nearly vegan and adapt – do you need to use goose fat in the potatoes, for example, or will oil do the job?”
“Personally, I’ve always felt that the vegetable sides are the best part of a festive dinner,” says Ms Noor Murad, who heads up Mr Yotam Ottolenghi’s Test Kitchen. “Meat and fish often add more stress. Instead of feeling like you need to have that one wow-factor dish when planning a vegan menu, you can instead celebrate vegetables in each dish that you make.”
Anderson recommends “an amazing plant-based pulao rice, a Japanese miso hotpot, a whole roasted head of cauliflower or an aubergine katsu curry – all of these things are just as show-stopping and heartwarming as a roast.”
Lean into umami flavours
“The thing about vegan food generally is that you’ve got to get the umami in,” says Anderson. “This isn’t really hard, because a lot of umami-rich ingredients come from plants anyway. Remember to season food not just with salt, but with plenty of umami-fun ingredients, too – things like soy sauce, Marmite, miso, dried mushrooms or MSG.”
Vegan food relies on depth of flavour, variety and acidity, but texture is especially important to keep things interesting and crave-able. “I love the richness that nuts can bring to a meal whether toasted for a creamy 'butter' or for crunch – spice them, roast, then chop up for addictive texture,” says Ms Chantelle Nicholson, chef, restaurateur and author of Planted: A Chef’s Show-Stopping Vegan Recipes.
Remember good fats
“Richness is key especially for puddings,” says Nicholson. “This can easily be achieved with nuts and oil. I find that roasted cashew nuts, blended with water until thick and creamy, is a great addition to any pudding. I also love tahini and coconut cream.”
Murad is a fan of the voluptuous fattiness of olive oil. “Although I do love butter you don't necessarily need it when you can get that unctuous mouth-feel with a good quality olive oil.”
Vegetables cooked in plumes of smoke on the barbecue or charred have a more intense depth of flavour. Anderson drizzles mirin, a Japanese rice wine, over vegetables before roasting for sweet caramelisation. Nicholson agrees that caramelising vegetables whether on a barbecue, oven or in a pan is a game changer. “Caramelised celeriac has a rich, nuttiness which doesn’t come through without a good amount of colour on it,” she says. “Salt baking is also a wonderful way to cook any tubers or root vegetables. By creating the seasoned dough around the vegetable, it creates a sealed cooking vessel which essentially steams the vegetables while imparting them with the seasoning from the salt and the herbs you mix into the dough.”
Ms Chantelle Nicholson
Salt-baked carrots, pine nut crumb, freekeh, roast garlic aioli
Photograph by Ms Nassima Rothacker.
4 large heritage carrots
100g wholegrain freekeh
50g rock salt 150g flour 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
Pine nut crumb:
2 tbsp non-dairy butter
50g panko breadcrumbs
50g pine nuts, toasted and finely chopped
1/2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
sea salt and freshly milled black pepper, for seasoning
Roast garlic aioli, to serve:
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp roast garlic purée
175ml olive oil
1/2 tsp table salt
For the salt dough, mix the ingredients together in a large bowl. Add 80ml cold water and mix together to form a stiff dough. Cover in cling film and refrigerate until needed.
Preheat the oven to 180℃. Wrap the carrots in the salt dough and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until a knife goes through the dough and carrots with no resistance. Remove from the oven, chip off the salt dough and allow the carrots to cool slightly.
Cook the freekeh according to the manufacturer’s instructions and strain off. Mix with some olive oil and season well.
For the pine nut crumb, heat the butter in a large frying pan over a moderately high heat. When hot, add the panko breadcrumbs and toast until golden. Add the cooked freekeh, pine nuts, rosemary, salt and pepper. Mix well.
For the aioli, put the aquafaba, mustard, vinegar and garlic into a beaker or narrow jug. Using a stick blender, slowly drizzle in the oil, little by little, mixing continuously until fully emulsified. Season to taste.
Scrape the carrots, to remove any skin and the very salty layer. Cut each in half and garnish with the crumb. Serve with the aioli.
Ms Noor Murad
Confit tandoori chickpeas
Photograph Ms Elena Heatherwick, courtesy of EburyPress.
Extracted from Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love (Ebury Press) by Ms Noor Murad and Mr Yotam Ottolenghi
2 tins of chickpeas (800g), drained (480g)
11 garlic cloves, peeled,
10 left whole and 1 crushed 30g fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
400g datterini or regular cherry tomatoes
3 red chillies, mild or spicy, a slit cut down their length
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp cumin seeds, roughly crushed with a pestle and mortar
1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric
1⁄2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp red Kashmiri chilli powder
1 tsp caster sugar
200ml olive oil
180g Greek-style yoghurt
15g picked mint leaves
30g fresh coriander, roughly chopped 2–3 limes: juiced to get 1 tbsp and the rest cut into wedges to serve
Preheat the oven to 150°C fan.
Put the chickpeas, whole garlic cloves, ginger, tomatoes, chillies, tomato paste, spices, sugar, oil and 1 tsp salt into a large sauté pan, for which you have a lid, and mix everything together to combine. Cover with the lid, transfer to the oven and cook for 75 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the aromatics have softened and the tomatoes have nicely broken down.
Meanwhile, put the yoghurt, mint, fresh coriander, lime juice, crushed garlic and 1⁄4 tsp salt into a food processor and blitz until smooth and the herbs are finely chopped.
Serve the chickpeas directly from the pan, with the yoghurt and lime wedges alongside.
Mr Tim Anderson
Japanese-style celeriac steak
Photograph by Ms Nassima Rothacker, courtesy of Hardie Grant.
Extracted from Vegan Japaneasy: Classic & Modern Vegan Japanese Recipes To Cook At Home (Hardie Grant) by Mr Tim Anderson
Makes 3 steaks
I am in two minds regarding the phenomenon of calling vegetables cut into large slabs and cooked in a pan “steaks”. I mean, on the one hand, they’re not steaks. But on the other hand, who cares? So yes: two minds. Please subscribe to my podcast. But seriously, these pan-fried, slightly caramelised celeriac slabs, bathed in a sweet onion sauce and garnished with fried garlic, are so delicious, it really doesn’t matter what you call them.
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 celeriac (celery root), peeled and cut into 3 big slabs, about 2.5 cm (1 in) thick
black pepper, to taste
1 tsp sesame oil
180–200ml wafu dressing (see below)
few pinches of sesame seeds
½ punnet salad cress
2 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
Place the garlic in a frying pan (skillet) with the cold oil and set over a medium heat. Allow the garlic to slowly fry in the oil until just golden brown, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Return the oil to the heat and turn it up to high, then lay the celeriac slabs in the oil and hit them with a few good grinds of black pepper. Cook on each side for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned (and perhaps starting to blacken in places), then drizzle over the sesame oil and the wafu dressing and let it boil briefly.
Remove from the heat, transfer the celeriac to a cutting board and slice it like a steak, then serve on warmed plates and pour over the sauce. Garnish with the sesame seeds, cress, spring onions and fried garlic.
(Sweet onion and ginger dressing)
Makes about 350ml, enough for 6 salads
¼ onion or ½ banana shallot
2 cm (¾ in) piece of fresh ginger root, peeled
100ml (3½ fl oz/scant ½ cup) soy sauce
100ml (3½ fl oz/scant ½ cup) mirin
100ml (3½ fl oz/scant ½ cup) rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Finely grate the onion and ginger and combine with all the other ingredients. Stir to combine and, ideally, let it sit for 30 minutes or so for all the flavours to come together. Alternatively, bung everything in a food processor and whizz it up until the onion and ginger are broken down. Store in a jar in the refrigerator for up to a month (it won’t go off, but the flavours will start to fade).