WILMINGTON — The holiday season is a time for family and friends to get together, to give and receive gifts, to reflect on the year that has passed and to look ahead to the year to come.
It’s also a time to eat. A lot.
So, in the spirit of the season, Port City Daily presents your guide to a five-course vegan holiday meal. Whether you are a vegetarian or vegan yourself or cooking for those who are, this meal presents classic holiday flavors – with some modern touches – that anyone can enjoy.
A note before the big day of cooking: if you are a vegan cook, or going to be cooking for vegan friends and family, it is always a good idea to make some vegetable stock ahead of time. Homemade veggie stock is cheaper and more flavorful than store-bought types, and can be frozen for future use (check out Port City Daily’s recipe for stock, along with gravy, stuffing and other great vegan recipes).
Roasted root vegetable soup w/ spiced pear and pecan relish
Note: This soup requires a blender or – even better – an immersion blender. If you have neither, this soup might not be for you (although serving the soup ‘homestyle,’ that is, with chunks of veggies, is an acceptable variation). That said, immersion blenders run only about $20 and are among the most useful tools in an home-cooks arsenal.
- 1 pound each butternut squash (about one squash), carrot and parsnip, cleaned, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 apple (granny smith works well) cored, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 1 large pear (Bartlet or Anjou)
- 1 cup crushed, candied pecans (see below)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup pecans
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamon
- 1 oz of bourbon (or other whiskey)
- 1 oz of water
- 1 teaspoon each thyme, sage and parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil
Preheat oven to 325º F.
To candy the pecans, mix whiskey (your choice, although most are vegan-friendly), water, brown sugar, spices and whole shelled pecans. Toss together, spread on a baking sheet (lightly oil foil or baking paper is recommended). Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring the pecans every 8-10 minutes. Remove, allow to cool and crush (either in a good food processor, or place in a plastic bag, wrap in a towel, and hammer with a heavy pan.
While pecans are cooking, clean, peel and dice root vegetables. Toss lightly in olive oil (about 2 oz.), salt and pepper, and roast for about 45 minutes.
Remove vegetables from oven, add to a tall soup pot with vegetable stock. Add herbs, reserving a little bit for garnish. Using an immersion blender, work the soup until it is smooth. Simmer until it reaches desired thickness. (If you are using a blender, you can simmer the vegetables and stock, and then puree a few cups at a time in a blender.)
Peel, core and dice pear. Add remaining herbs, diced, and crushed candied pecans. Serve mixture as a garnish on top of the soup.
Roasted sweet potato with chili, fried garlic, and mint
- 4 medium sweet potatoes
- olive oil
- 5-6 large cloves of garlic, sliced thin (think: “Goodfellas”)
- dried chilies, ground (arbol is you like a lot of spice, ancho for moderate and guajillo for mild – you can also use basic red chili flakes)
- mint, about a tablespoon, diced
- salt and pepper
- a lemon
Preheat oven to 400º F.
Dice sweet potato (about 1” chunks, skin on if you prefer). Toss in olive oil (about 2 oz.), salt and pepper. Roast for about 45 minutes.
While sweet potatoes roast, heat about 4 oz. olive oil over medium heat. Fry thin slices of garlic until golden brown, stain out with a slotted metal spoon onto a towel (the oil, which is now garlic-infused, can be cooled and used in a vinaigrette, to finish a soup, or to saute vegetables).
Toss finished sweet potatoes with chilies, diced mint, and fried garlic. Finish with the juice of one lemon.
Vegan shepherd’s pie
- 5-6 medium-sized potatoes
- 1 cup each: peas (can be thawed from frozen), carrots, corn, broccoli, onions and mushrooms (you can substitute other vegetables for a total of 6 cups)
- ½ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (almond or soy work best)
- ¼ cup vegetable stock
- Minced parsley, rosemary, and thyme (a small handful, about a tablespoon of each)
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegan margarine
- 1/2 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
Preheat the oven to 400º F.
Peel and dice the potatoes (about 1’’ chunks). Cover in a pot with water and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until fork tender. Drain and move to mixing bowl.
While potatoes cook, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. Sauté vegetables until onion is translucent, add stock and reduce slightly. Add nutritional yeast and fold in about ½ cup of mashed, cooked potato. And herbs and salt and pepper to taste.
Put cooked vegetables in a greased/oiled casserole dish (use a smaller dish for deeper ‘slices’ of pie, about 6’’ x 6’’).
Mash the rest of the potatoes, adding non-dairy milk. Gently spread mashed potatoes on top of the vegetable mix. Back for about 40 minutes, until potatoes start to brown.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 1/4 cup diced carrots
- 1/4 cup diced onions
- 1/4 cup diced celery
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 4 oz. vegan margarine (such as “Earth Balance”)
- Maple Syrup
- 2 1-lb. acorn squash, halved and seeded
- 1 green apple, peeled and chopped (about 1/4” pieces)
- 1 cup of vegan bread-crumbs (you can make your own by drying bread overnight, and feeding though a food processor)
- 1/4 cup crushed walnuts, pecans or almonds
- 1/4 cup cranberries
- 1/4 cups raisins
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a saucepan, sauté carrots, onions and celery in 2 oz. margarine (or olive oil, if you like) until translucent. Add diced apples, about 2 oz. of maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and vegetable stock. Cook down until stock is reduced and apples are soft.
Place mixture in scooped-out acorn squash. Bake about 35-50 minutes, until the skin on the squash is easily pierced with a fork.
Mix another 2 oz. maple syrup, bread crumbs and crushed nuts. Sprinkle on top of squash, cover lightly with aluminum foil and back for another 30 minutes.
Vegan pecan pie
Note: This pie uses the vegan shortening-based pie crust featured in our Battleship North Carolina pie story; this is a great crust for any vegan pie, sweet or savory.
- ½ tsp salt
- 6 tablespoons vegan margarine
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 10 saltine crackers (vegan) crumbled
- 1¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup light corn syrup (or molasses, for heartier flavor)
- 1 oz bourbon (optional)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 tablespoons of applesauce
- 3 Tbsp corn, potato or tapioca starch
Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a heavy skillet on medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons vegan margarine. Add pecan halves and salt, and stir frequently as pecans toast. When pecans darken slightly and smelly toasty, remove from heat.
In a small bowl, stir together crackers and 1/2 up of water. When crackers have absorbed water, add to a food processor with 3 tablespoons vegan margarine, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla (and optional bourbon) and apple sauce. Blend in starch.
Heat mixture over medium heat until it reduces slightly and thickens. Stir frequently to avoid burning. Remove from heat and fold in pecans. Pour into par-baked pie crust.
Bake for 50 minutes.
Allow to cool or at least two hours – or even overnight – before slicing and serving.