Everyone knows the best foods at Thanksgiving are the side dishes. Why fill up on turkey when you can gobble down the best fruits and vegetables of the fall harvest?

That’s why the Well blog uses this time of year to try out new vegetarian recipes that may quickly become old family traditions. To help you discover a new vegetarian favorite, we’ve asked some of our favorite chefs and food writers to offer creative, meat-free appetizers, main courses, side dishes and desserts to fill the Thanksgiving table. From now until Thanksgiving, the Well blog will feature daily vegetarian recipes to help you plan your holiday menu. This year’s lineup includes some mouthwatering recipes from top chefs, sneak peeks at new recipes from some of your favorite cookbook authors and even some vegan and gluten-free dishes.

So whether you have a vegetarian at your holiday table or you just want to surprise your family with some new recipes, the holiday is an ideal time to celebrate vegetables, learn some creative new recipes and even save a turkey in the process.

The Eat Well Vegetarian Thanksgiving series starts today with our own Martha Rose Shulman, creator of the popular New York Times cooking series “Recipes for Health.” Ms. Shulman offers a new take on holiday sweet potatoes, infusing them with the flavors of fruit, honey and nuts.

Orange-Scented Sweet Potato and Fruit Gratin

The vegetarians and vegans at your Thanksgiving table will love this, but so will the meat eaters. Orange is a flavor that complements sweet potatoes, and the walnut oil contributes a subtle background nuttiness. Make sure to stir the mixture every 15 minutes as it bakes, so that the sweet potatoes on the top layer don’t dry out. The apple and pear slices may fall apart, but that’s fine, they won’t disintegrate and they’ll contribute wonderful flavor to the dish.

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced about 1/4 inch thick
2 tart apples, such as Pink Lady, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 large ripe but firm pear, peeled, cored and sliced
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons mild honey, such as clover (substitute agave nectar for vegans)
2 tablespoons walnut oil, plus more for greasing the pan
2 teaspoons finely chopped or grated orange zest
2 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil a 3-quart gratin or baking dish with walnut oil. Toss together the sweet potatoes, apples and pear in a large bowl. Season with salt to taste.

2. In a small saucepan or in a microwave at 50 percent power, heat the honey (or agave nectar) and the walnut oil together just until warm. Add to the sweet potato mixture, add the orange zest and toss together well until the fruit and vegetables are well coated. Scrape into the baking dish, making sure to scrape out all of the honey and oil using a rubber spatula. Pour on the orange juice. Set the baking dish on a sheet pan and place in the oven.

3. Bake 1 hour, setting the timer so that you remember to stir the mixture at 15-minute intervals. Cover the pan with foil and continue to bake for another 1/2 hour, or until the sweet potatoes are thoroughly tender and the liquid in the pan is syrupy. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes (or longer) before serving.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8 (8 as part of a Thanksgiving menu).

In addition, be sure to check out Ms. Shulman’s Vegetarian Thanksgiving suggestions from last year, “Recipes for a Healthy Thanksgiving.”
Need I say anything?

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Great...that must be way of life
A Vegan Thanksgiving

Check out these great recipes, certain to delight ANYONE's tastebuds!

Harvest-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

This hearty Thanksgiving entrée is made of savory lentil cashew stuffing baked in juicy Portobello mushrooms infused with aromatic herbs. It’s topped off with a sliver of sweet tomato and fresh thyme leaves. This dish is packed with protein and fiber and will hold its own on the Thanksgiving table!
(6 servings)


2 tablespoons olive oil + extra for brushing
1 large yellow onion, small dice
1 cup cashews
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cooked brown rice (or grain of choice)
1 can lentils, drained and rinsed
¼ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves + extra for garnish
6 Portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed
1 tomato, sliced in thin rounds
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In large skillet, sauté the onions and cashews with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium/high heat. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until onions are soft and lightly browned. Add garlic and let cook a few more minutes.

3. In a large bowl combine onion mixture, brown rice, lentils, breadcrumbs, vegetable broth, basil, and thyme. Mix together and season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Brush both sides of mushrooms caps lightly with olive oil and place top-side-down on an oiled sheet pan. Stuff mushrooms with about ½ cup lentil cashew stuffing then press one tomato slice on top of the stuffing.

5. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the stuffing is browned and the mushroom begins releasing juices.

6. Garnish with extra fresh thyme leaves and let the feast begin!

Do-ahead Tip: The stuffing can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator (steps 1-3). The mushrooms can be stuffed and assembled on a baking tray the day before (step 4). Bake and finish the stuffed-mushrooms right before serving.
Well's Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Gluten-Free Apple-Pecan Cornbread Stuffing

Celebrate Thanksgiving with vegetarian and vegan dishes from some of your favorite chefs and cookbook authors. Find all the recipes from Well’s Vegetarian Thanksgiving series below or go to the Well blog to learn more about the series. New dishes will be added daily until Thanksgiving Day.

Check out the various array of delicious recipes. Lot of pictures >>> LINKS

Dr. Weil’s Simple Roasted Root Vegetables

Sometime the best foods at Thanksgiving are the simplest, cooked in their natural state with minimal spices to let the original flavor shine through.

That’s certainly the case with the latest contribution to the Eat Well Vegetarian Thanksgiving series. The recipe comes from Dr. Andrew Weil, the popular alternative health physician who espouses the power of healthful eating and simple living as the best way to improve health. When I asked Dr. Weil for a recipe this year, he offered an “easy and good” dish of roasted root vegetables lightly seasoned with paprika or chili powder. Cooking, he says, should focus on “really good food from fresh ingredients without spending a lot of time, work or money on it.”

In addition to Dr. Weil’s roasted root vegetable dish, I’ve also included his Thanksgiving contribution from last year, a robust squash soup garnished with walnut-cilantro pesto. And go to Vegetarian Thanksgiving to see all the recipes published in the series so far.

Dr. Andrew Weil’s
Thanksgiving Roasted Root Veggies

1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
1 to 2 pounds root vegetables, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, beets, sweet potatoes)
1 medium onion, peeled, in 1/4-inch wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons smoked Spanish paprika or mild red chile powder

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Put vegetables (except garlic) in a bowl. Toss with the oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika or chile.

3. Spread the veggies in a roasting pan. (Do not crowd the pieces; use two pans if necessary.) Roast, stirring every 15 minutes, until tender and evenly browned, 45 to 50 minutes.

4. Add garlic cloves during the last 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Dr. Andrew Weil’s
Roasted Winter Squash and Apple Soup

1 large winter squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), such as butternut, buttercup or kabocha; peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tart, firm apples, peeled, cored and quartered
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and red chili powder to taste
4 to 5 cups vegetable broth

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large roasting pan, toss the squash, onions, garlic and apples with the oil to coat. Season well with the salt and chili powder. Roast, stirring every 10 minutes, until the vegetables are fork tender and lightly browned, about 40 minutes.

2. Put half of the vegetables and 2 cups of the broth in a food processor and purée until smooth. Repeat with the remaining vegetables and broth. Return puréed mixture to the pot. If the soup is too thick, add more broth. Correct the seasoning and heat to a simmer.

3. Serve in warm bowls with dollops of cilantro-walnut pesto.

Dr. Andrew Weil’s
Cilantro-Walnut Pesto

1 cup walnut pieces
2 cups cilantro leaves, washed, drained and stemmed
1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1. Put the walnuts in a food processor and grind them fine.

2. Add the cilantro, jalapeño, salt, vinegar and 2 to 3 tablespoons of water and blend. Blend in a little more water if necessary to make a thick sauce. Taste and correct the seasoning, adding more salt if necessary.


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