Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Thanksgiving Side Dishes

It may be Turkey Day and all, but everyone knows Thanksgiving is all about the sides, and many of the best ones are meatless.
By: Michelle Buffardi
Related To:
Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

Truth is, vegetarians don't have it all that bad on Thanksgiving. It may be Turkey Day and all, but everyone knows Thanksgiving is all about the sides, and many of the best ones are meatless. The only thing you need to keep in mind if you're cooking for vegetarians on Thanksgiving or are going meatless yourself is that sometimes meaty ingredients lurk in vegetable dishes like soups and casseroles. If you're doing the cooking, you can easily substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock, and if you're a vegetarian guest at a meal, just ask a lot of questions -- those bacon-braised Brussels sprouts might be a favorite side for everyone else at the table, but you might want to skip it.

The best way to make sure there are veg-friendly dishes at the Thanksgiving table is to make some yourself. The host will appreciate the gesture, and you won't starve; everyone will have reason to give thanks. I personally wouldn't recommend a tofurky; they scare me, frankly. Your best bet is to make something mainstream that everyone will love -- but make lots; you can count on the other guests gobbling up whatever you bring along with the meatier parts of the feast.

A Healthier Take on Dressing

You can make a vegetarian version of stuffing or dressing, but face it, the more you fill up on heavy bread dishes, the less room you'll have for pie. Make a brown rice salad instead; serve it warm, cold or at room temperature.

Go Big and Go Fancy

This is likely the only dish that's sure to upstage the turkey -- and probably the pies and sides, too. Move over Turducken, there's a new 'ducken in town: sweet potatoes surrounded by stuffing, leeks and packed into a squash.

Watch How to Make it: Veg-Friendly VeggieDucken

Dessert Meets Side Dish

©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

There's no meat here, but there's plenty of buttery, spicy, crunchy, dessert-like topping on these sweet potatoes.

Surefire Crowd-Pleaser

Alton Brown - Squash Soup

Photo by: Adrian Mueller ©2012, Adrian Mueller / AMueller.com, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Adrian Mueller, 2012, Adrian Mueller / AMueller.com, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

I make butternut squash soup every year for Thanksgiving; it's become the part of the meal that everyone looks forward to. I make the same soup recipe each year, but vary the toppings each time. This year it'll be ginger cream and a sprinkle of chopped toasted pecans and candied ginger.

Get the Recipe: Squash Soup

Vegetarian Main or Meat-Lovers Side

PUMPKIN LOVERS LASAGNA Rachael Ray Rachael Ray’s Week In A Day/Fall In Love With Fall Cooking Channel Kosher Salt, Escarole, Garlic, Butter, Sage Leaves, Butternut Squash, Chicken Stock, Allpurpose Flour, Milk, Nutmeg, Pumpkin Puree, Eggs, Ricotta, ParmigianoReggiano, Noboil Flat Lasagna, Italian Fontina,PUMPKIN LOVERS LASAGNA Rachael Ray Rachael Ray’s Week In A Day/Fall In Love With Fall Cooking Channel Kosher Salt, Escarole, Garlic, Butter, Sage Leaves, Butternut Squash, Chicken Stock, Allpurpose Flour, Milk, Nutmeg, Pumpkin Puree, Eggs, Ricotta, ParmigianoReggiano, Noboil Flat Lasagna, Italian Fontina,PUMPKIN LOVERS LASAGNA Rachael Ray Rachael Ray’s Week In A Day/Fall In Love With Fall Cooking Channel Kosher Salt, Escarole, Garlic, Butter, Sage Leaves, Butternut Squash, Chicken Stock, Allpurpose Flour, Milk, Nutmeg, Pumpkin Puree, Eggs, Ricotta, ParmigianoReggiano, Noboil Flat Lasagna, Italian Fontina

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Rachael Ray's hearty lasagna is loaded with butternut squash and pumpkin puree, plus escarole and lots and lots of cheese. It will serve as a main course for vegetarians, but you can be sure everyone else at the table will load some onto their plate next to the turkey and sausage stuffing. To make this recipe completely meatless, use vegetable stock instead of chicken.

Get the Recipe: Pumpkin Lasagna
Share your tricks for going meatless on Thanksgiving!
Keep Reading

Next Up

Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Thanksgiving Sides

The great news is that most side dishes are either meatless or can be made without meat very easily (and just as deliciously).

Feeding Guests During the Thanksgiving Holiday

Some smart preparation makes feeding your Thanksgiving houseguests a cinch — even if they're staying the whole holiday weekend.

Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Holiday Appetizers

Make sure there are plenty of meatless munchies to enjoy with your holiday cocktails: volunteer to bring one of these make-ahead, vegetarian appetizers to the part

Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Pot Pie

The Meatless Monday cure for the rainy-day blues: Aida Mollenkamp's Vegetarian Pot Pie.

Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Thanksgiving Appetizers

Make the first course at Thanksgiving a meatless one; vegetarians will be happy and meat-lovers won't miss the meat one bit.

Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Thanksgiving Appetizers

Serve a few simple snacks before your Thanksgiving feast to keep guests happy and out of the kitchen.

Meatless Monday: 8 Vegetarian Pasta Recipes

Keep your cabinets stocked with dried pasta and whip up easy, meat-free dinners in minutes.

Meatless Monday: Dinner of Sides

Michael Symon’s Greek feta and cucumber salad goes with just about everything. Crisp, tangy and refreshing, you’ll be coming back to this 10-minute side many times this summer.

On TV

Pick a Side!

The Snackdown

In our new animated series, we debate the most-pressing food matters of our time, like is cereal a soup?

So Much Pretty Food Here