For some, Thanksgiving is and will always be about turkey. Other eaters are more adventurous, and love the challenge of incorporating interesting new traditions at the Thanksgiving table. Alex and I are flexitarians, meaning that we eat meat once in a while. At Thanksgiving, we like to offer several options to make everyone at the table satisfied. This week, my sister and her husband have flow in from Thailand, and my parents from Minnesota. There are both voracious meat eaters and veggie lovers at our table, so along with a meat entree we’ll offer a vegetarian main dish as well. After seven years of posting vegetarian main dish Thanksgiving recipes, we’ve built up quite a collection. Here are our 10 favorite vegetarian main dish Thanksgiving recipes–each of which we can vouch for as a delicious and something the entire family will love.
This is a new main dish this year and our most popular recipe for the season. The gooey gnocchi are drenched in savory pumpkin sauce with creamy pockets of goat cheese–need we say more? We’ve made it for a few occasions and it gets rave reviews. If you’d like to make this gluten-free, pick up some gluten-free gnocchi (while potato based, traditional gnocchi contain flour).
Here’s a new way to eat spaghetti squash: as mac & cheese! It’s served in the shell for a beautiful presentation. The spaghetti squash strands are drenched in a Béchamel sauce with Gruyere cheese, which gives it a sophisticated flair. A glass of tart white wine is a perfect complement to the rich creaminess. Our 9-month-old son Larson devoured this, so it’s a hit with the younger crowd.
In this cozy bake, pumpkin is mixed with ricotta cheese and a bit of fresh sage for a savory, gooey filling. It’s baked in a marinara sauce that’s homey and complex in flavor. It takes a bit of effort to put together, so pull in some friends and family for the assembly. It’s a filling meatless main that would pair well with Thanksgiving sides.
This season we cooked up a vegetable bake from The Pollan Family Table cookbook, recommended to us by sister Tracy Pollan. She was absolutely right: it’s a stunner. Shallots, garlic, white wine, and sherry are used in the sauce to bring out a savory, almost meaty flavor from the vegetables and tofu. Topped with bubbly cheese, it’s a beautiful showstopper.
This is one of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes, since sweet potatoes are one of my top veggies. Instead of topping them with marshmallows and brown sugar like the Thanksgiving tradition, these are made up as a main dish. They’re baked, then the filling is removed and mixed with goat cheese. It’s topped with French lentils, goat cheese crumbles, and celery leaves for an aromatic twist. While this meatless main dish could work for any meal, it’s especially lovely on the Thanksgiving table.
We’ve remade the famous spinach & artichoke party dip into a main dish, using red rice as a filling and wholesome grain. You can use any type of rice for this one, combining it with spinach, canned artichokes and provalone cheese. While we created it as a cozy meatless main dish, it’s also one of our favorite new ideas for Thanksgiving recipes.
Acorn squash is Thanksgiving perfect: it’s a tender, sweet squash with edible skin. Here, we’ve chopped it into quarters and topped it with a Mediterranean-style wild rice stuffing. The tender grains are mixed with pistachios, kale and feta. It’s a delicious main dish that’s showy and crowd-pleasing.
Parmesan mashed potatoes with rosemary top this cozy filling of lentils and mixed veg. The filling is flavored with miso, which brings a savory, almost meaty flavor. This one takes a bit of time to prepare, but it’s a perfect project for the friends and family to help pitch in. It makes enough to feed a crowd, and it’s a fitting dish for a special occasion.
When it comes to Thanksgiving recipes, squash is top on our list. Delicata squash is our favorite squash variety, for its sweet flavor and because it roasts quickly. Here, the delicata squash is roasted and stuffed with wild rice and pepitas. It’s also got some sharp cheddar cheese, but it can easily be made vegan by omitting the cheese.
This is one of our most popular Thanksgiving recipes–and recipes in general! The mixture of nuts, vegetables, and cheese has the flavor and texture of meat, pleasing even the most passionate meat lovers. You won’t believe it until you try it yourself!
About the Authors
Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is author and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best vegetarian cookbooks” by Epicurious, and a recipe developer and healthy & sustainable food advocate behind the award-nominated food blog A Couple Cooks.
Cookbook Author and photographer
Alex Overhiser is photographer and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best new cookbooks” by Bon Appetit, and a recipe developer, photographer, and technical expert at A Couple Cooks.