Preparing for a Vegan Guest at Thanksgiving

While all of you are getting ramped up for Halloween, I am anxiously awaiting Thanksgiving!  You see, I love making my Thanksgiving meal.  I have spent years perfecting it and it is delicious (if I do say so myself…and I do!)  It’s got all the traditional fixings: Turkey, homemade giblet gravy, green bean casserole, mashed garlic gruyere potatoes, home-made cranberry relish and a wild rice, cornbread and sausage stuffing that is to die for. 

This is definitely NOT a VEGAN meal.  But this year, I will be hosting a guest who is a vegan.  And there in lies my challenge. Of course, my vegan guest insists I not make any special menu items for her.  But I’m Italian, I must feed people. Plus, based on my menu, she’d only be able to eat the cranberry relish (which is delicious but not very filling).

So I set out to find a Vegan dish that would compliment my meal as well as satisfy my desire to fill the belly of my guest.  I found this one from Vegan Holiday Kitchen and made it for my family (with some minor adjustments to suit our tastes). We all agreed that it was yummy! Even my hubby who automatically assumes that anything healthy can’t taste good. :)

What is nice is that I can also use this recipe in our Gluten Free, Dairy Free diet rotation. This diet has reduced Asperger’s symptoms. I’ll blog more on that in the future.

Here is the recipe with my adjustments. Let me know what you think!

Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie

  • 6  large or 8 medium potatoes (Yukon gold works well)
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance
  • 1/2 cup rice milk
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 ounces cremini or baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 ½ cups chopped carrots
  • Two 15-ounce cans lentils, lightly drained
  • 2 tablespoons dry red wine, optional
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons all-purpose seasoning blend (such as Spike or Mrs. Dash)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 8 to 10 ounces baby spinach or arugula leaves (chopped)
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup fresh gluten free bread crumbs (or run rice cakes through a food processor)
  • Truffle oil (optional)
  • Paprika

Peel and dice the potatoes. Place in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small mixing bowl. Stir the Earth Balance into the potatoes until melted, then add the rice milk and mash until fluffy. Season with salt, cover, and set aside until needed. Preheat the oven to 400º F.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms and  sauté until the onion is golden. Add the lentils and their liquid and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir in the optional wine, soy sauce, seasoning blend, thyme, and pepper. Cook gently for 5 minutes.

Combine the cornstarch with just enough water to dissolve in a small container. Stir into the lentil mixture. Add the spinach, a little at a time, cooking just until it’s all wilted down. Remove from the heat; taste to adjust seasonings to your liking.

Lightly oil a 2-quart casserole dish. Scatter the breadcrumbs evenly over the bottom. Pour in the lentil mixture, then spread the potatoes evenly over the top. Drizzle truffle oil over potatoes and sprinkle with paprika.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to turn golden and slightly crusty. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, then serve.

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