We’re somewhat in denial but it’s true: Thanksgiving is around the corner. This year is our first time hosting Thanksgiving in quite a while; 8 years ago actually, when we’d just started learning about how to cook. I ate roasted Brussels sprouts for the first time (a revelation!), and made my Grandma’s pumpkin pie. We crowded around the table in our “new to us” house and took our wedding dishes on their first run. This year we’re 8 years older, there’s a handful of new nieces and nephews, and we’re in a different “new to us” house with a kitchen that comfortably fits more than one cook.
Each year Alex and I have a little Thanksgiving tradition: we create and share a veggie-filled menu to show that the holiday can be about seasonal, nutritious eating instead of stuffing ourselves with rich foods. Usually it’s a vegetarian main dish, accompanied by several sides and a wholesome dessert. It’s a fun challenge to come up with something other than turkey and pumpkin pie, and each year the dishes get even tastier. The funny part is that we have to make it well in advance of the holiday in order to photograph it and get it to you in time for the big day, so each year it’s like a little October date just the two of us. This year was much easier than previous years; in particular, the main dish turned out wonderfully (last year we made countless flavorless stuffed squashes before we finally settled on this one).
Our pick for a vegetarian Thanksgiving main dish (or any fall or winter meal, really): stuffed sweet potatoes with lentils and goat cheese. With no exaggeration, it’s one of my favorite recipes we’ve made this year. I modeled it off of these potato skins with pinto beans, but used lentils and goat cheese for a more refined, french-style winter vibe. The goat cheese is not only crumbled over the top with black lentils, fresh thyme, and crunchy celery leaves, but it’s mixed into the inside of the potato for a creamy, savory filling. While the recipe takes about 1 1/2 hours to prepare, it is well worth it for the flavorful dish that results.
We hope you’ll give this a try for a Thanksgiving meal or other menu – let us know if you try it out! And tell us: what are you making for Thanksgiving?
Why to Make It: A vegetarian and gluten-free entree that’s elegant and full of flavor, with black lentils, fresh thyme and creamy goat cheese
When To Make It: Fall or Winter
Caveats: It takes about 1 1/2 hours to put together, so plan accordingly.
Instagram: Tag your healthy Thanksgiving creations on Instagram with #healthythanksgiving2015. (We’ll be using it for ours and would love to see yours!)
Menu: Below is our menu for this year, which we’ll post this week and next week. Are you interested in seeing our recipes and menus from previous years (starting in 2010)? Let us know in the comments and if so, we’ll post them in an upcoming post.
Pinterest: Our Healthy Thanksgiving pinboard
- 4 medium sweet potatoes (2 ½ pounds)
- ¾ cup black lentils (or French lentils)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 2 stalks celery, including leaves
- 1 large green onion
- 4 ounces goat cheese, divided
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Wash the sweet potatoes, and prick them all over with a fork. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of the sweet potatoes, until tender.
- In a medium pot, combine ¾ cups black lentils with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes, until tender but not soft. Drain in a colander, removing as much liquid as possible, then transfer to a bowl. Mix lentils with 1 tablespoon olive oil and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Thinly slice celery stalks and green onion and chop 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, then mix in with the lentils. Reserve the celery leaves.
- When the potatoes have finished baking, remove them from the oven. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool slightly until able to handle. Cut each potato in half with a serrated knife, then scoop out the insides into a bowl, making sure to keep a layer of sweet potato within the skin so that it can stand on its own. In the bowl, mash the potato with a masher, then stir in half of the goat cheese, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper.
- Fill each potato skin with the potato filling and top with the lentils. Bake until heated through, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the oven and garnish with celery leaves and the crumbles of the remaining goat cheese. Serve hot.