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.
By: Michelle Buffardi
white bean dip
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?

In most circles, it's likely you won't get away with a vegetarian entree for Thanksgiving. Everyone expects a turkey and those who go meatless can fill up on green bean casserole and sweet potatoes. But Thanksgiving appetizers are a different story. An entire appetizer spread can be meatless and no one will notice. Expect to hear squeals of glee accompanied by comments like, "Ohhh, is that spinach-artichoke dip?" (Which is much nicer to hear than "Where's the stinking turkey?!)

Use a food processor to whip up Giada's White Bean Dip (pictured above) in seconds; serve it with warm, homemade pita chips, or if you're pressed for time (and oven space) use store-bought pita chips or crudites. You can save yourself even more time by making the dip the day before Thanksgiving.

Alton's Hot Spinach-Artichoke Artichoke Dip is made in the microwave so it's ready in minutes. Make extra — this tends to be everyone's favorite appetizer so expect it to be devoured. And if it's not, serve the leftovers for Thanksgiving dinner, part 2 (this happens at around 10pm on Thanksgiving night at my house), or use it as a sandwich spread for leftovers sandwiches.

Make a pot of Butternut Squash Soup (use vegetable broth instead of chicken to make it meatless) and set out bowls of spiced nuts, dried cranberries, chopped apples and crystallized ginger so guests can top their soup as the like.

Many stuffed mushroom recipes rely on meat (like sausage or pancetta) for flavor but Giada makes her Stuffed Mushrooms simply with just garlic, Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs and bread crumbs -- no one will miss the meat.

If you know a single person out there who doesn't love baked brie, let me know because I don't believe brie-haters exist. This extra-gooey version is made with a sticky-sweet maple pecan praline topping.

Debi and Gabriele would like to remind you that bruschetta (pronounced "broo-skeh-tah") is, by definition, "a flame-toasted thick slice of bread dressed with any kind of sauce, topped with extra-virgin olive oil, some salt and some pepper." This means you're not limited to the tomato-basil combination everyone knows and loves; save that bruschetta for next year when tomatoes are in season again and top your toasted bread with savory wild mushrooms instead.

Hungry for more vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes? Browse our 20 Thanksgiving-worthy meatless recipes, sure to please even the carnivores at your table.

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