A golden turkey, a glazed ham, a roasted leg of lamb – these are traditional mainstays for holiday menus across North America, but for vegetarians, this is not the case. Around many tables of those who choose not to eat meat, the bounty of the season truly shines in an array of main and side dishes featuring grains, mushrooms, legumes and every variety of vegetable from winter squash to leeks.
For me, some side dishes like Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon & Parmesan and piping hot Yorkshire Pudding tend to steal the show anyway, so I probably wouldn’t miss the turkey if I were a vegetarian. In fact, I’ve often been tempted to serve up my favorite sides and forget the main protein on our holiday meal, but I imagine I’d get a few complaints from the peanut gallery. Who knows. Maybe if I could make it up to them in the pie department…
Last year I posted a Simple Bites holiday menu, in all it’s traditional glory, but this November, I wanted to spotlight a few options for a meatless meal that is elegant enough to serve to your guests.
So today’s post is a round-up of what I believe would make a first-rate vegetarian holiday menu, either for the upcoming American Thanksgiving, or for a dinner party in December closer to Christmas.
Suggestions for a Vegetarian Holiday Menu
Now unless you were feeding a crowd of college boys, this menu is too big to be considered preparing in full, but I’ve given an array of ideas so you can pick and choose your favorite dishes and build a more modest menu of your own.
The finger foods: tasty bites that stimulate the appetite, yet leave plenty of room for the meal.
- Endive with Blue Cheese and Toasted Almonds
- Almond & Cream Cheese-Stuffed Olives
- Cheddar & Hazelnut Stuffed Apricots
- Vegetable Crudite with Buttermilk-Black Pepper Dip
Choice of a seasonal soup, made from scratch with the freshest vegetables possible. Garlic croutons optional.
A fresh salad, a sophisticated potato presentation, everyone’s favorite squash dish and braised cabbage for that rustic touch. And for the main dish? Earthy wild mushrooms and leeks baked under a smooth polenta crust. I guarantee everyone will ask for seconds.
- Mushroom & Leek Bake with Polenta-Parmesan Crust
- Butter Braised Cabbage & Apples with Leek
- Potato Rosemary Strudel
- Butternut Squash Gratin
- Apple-Fennel Salad with Pecans & Pomegranate
Thankfully pie is vegetarian, especially when made with an all-butter crust. These two are the perfect balance between nutty-rich and fruit-filled, leaving you with no choice but to try a slice of both.
A memorable holiday menu doesn’t have to revolve around meat, as illustrated brilliantly in this Vegetarian Thanksgiving menu from Saveur. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian or even flexitarian there are plenty of alternative options, all it takes is a little extra planning and an open palate.
For more menu planing ideas, visit I’m an Organizing Junkie.
What is your favorite vegetarian holiday side dish?