As a vegan food blogger, Thanksgiving dinner is like this sort of daunting yet really exciting culinary challenge that comes around every Fall. It's like I have this compulsion to do better than I did last year, to veganize more dishes, and to show everyone that a vegan Thanksgiving is as good as (or better than!) any "normal" Thanksgiving.
I became vegetarian the summer after 6th grade, I was 12 years old. It's crazy to think about this now, but back then I was crazy about meat. Even so, I actually found it quite easy abstain from meat and I rarely felt any real cravings for the stuff either. But then Thanksgiving came around. Without a doubt that first Thanksgiving was hard - I mean I lived for my Mom's turkey dinners. I certainly hadn't considered that when I'd made the decision to be vegetarian.
I remember coming across the Tofurky Holiday Roast on the internet way back then. My family thought is was hilarious! Tofurky?!?
In our small city, trying to find something like the Tofurky Roast was pretty much impossible. For years it felt like some kind of vegan legend.
So, when I finally discovered Turtle Island's Holiday Tofurky Roast hiding in the very top corner of my supermarket's natural freezer section, I was ecstatic! It was like all my vegan dreams came true!
And after all that time, it was everything I'd hoped for. I'll happily admit it, I love the Tofurky roast! I look forward to every holiday where it seems acceptable to eat one. I love it so much I even made a tofurky tutorial back when I first started this blog!
So now here's my problem: The store that I always bought mine from has stopped carrying them and I've still haven't found anywhere else that stocks them.
What am I supposed to slather mushroom gravy all over this year!?!
Well, that's the dilemma that inspired this recipe for The Ultimate Vegan Thanksgiving Loaf. Because apparently not every vegan can hunt down a Tofurky this time of year. So this year I'm presenting you with a delicious alternative main dish for you to smother in mushroom gravy!
So why do I think this recipe deserves the title "The Ultimate Vegan Thanksgiving Loaf"? SO MANY REASONS.
Well, there's that perfect savoury-sweet contrast of the tart-but-sweet cranberry glaze and the hearty loaf.
And it fulfills every requirement of a holiday dinner main dish AND MORE! 1) Pairs well with gravy? Check. 2) Pairs well with cranberry sauce? Check. 3) Pairs well with gravy and cranberry sauce when they inevitably mix together on your plate? Check. 4) Delicious leftovers that are even more amazing as a sandwich? Check and Check!
Plus, it's PACKED with nutrient rich ingredients:
- fibre rich brown rice
- high protein green lentils
- tons of vegetables: kale, mushrooms, carrots, celery, onion and garlic.
- satiating oat flour
- omega-3 rich flax seed, walnuts, and olive oil
- fortified nutritional yeast (great source of vitamins B's for vegans!)
- and studded with dried cranberries
And lastly, if you like to entertain during the holidays this loaf is going to be your saving grace. With so many different food sensitivities, allergies, and lifestyle choices to consider, trying to feed everyone is hard! Luckily this loaf is vegan, gluten free, soy free, and can easily be nut free by omitting the walnuts.
See, it is The Ultimate Vegan Thanksgiving Loaf!
Notes on the recipe:
If you're not the kind of person to put cranberry sauce on their entire plate of Thanksgiving dinner or if you don't like that sweet-savoury thing, leave out the dried cranberries (for best appearance), or the glaze and dried cranberries.
This isn't called "The Ultimate Vegan Thanksgiving Loaf" for nothing! This hearty, gluten-free main dish is packed with healthy ingredients and holiday flavours, all topped off with a pretty cranberry glaze.
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
- 1 ½ cups kale, shredded and tightly packed
- 1 medium-large carrot, grated
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 1 rib celery, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ½ cups mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) oregano
- ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) thyme
- Black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup overcooked green lentils
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- ½ cup ground walnuts
- ⅓ cup oat flour (ground oats)
- 3 tablespoon ground flax seed
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup dried cranberries (optional)
- ½ cup (125 ml) cranberry sauce, canned or homemade (recipe below)
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
- In a large frying pan heat olive oil over medium-high. Once the oil is hot, add the kale, carrot, onion, celery, and garlic. Sauté until the onion is nearly translucent (about 2 minutes).
- Add the mushrooms, salt, oregano, thyme, and pepper. Sauté until the vegetables are just tender.
- In a large bowl, combine the vegetables, cooked lentils and brown rice, walnuts, oat flour, flax seed, and nutritional yeast. Mix thoroughly and roughly, mashing some of the ingredients in the process. This is important to help the loaf bind together.
If needed, blend ⅓ of the mixture using a food processor or immersion blender and recombine. For best texture and appearance do not blend all of the mixture.
- If using, mix in the dried cranberries. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and firmly press the mixture into the pan.
- Bake for 25 minutes. While the loaf bakes, prepare the cranberry glaze: In a high-speed blender, blend the cranberry sauce until smooth. Remove the loaf from the oven, pour the glaze over the top and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the glaze has set and no longer looks shiny.
- Allow the loaf to cool for 10-15 minutes to fully set.
- Store leftovers for up to 4 days.
Keywords: vegan thanksgiving loaf, thanksgiving lentil loaf
Tangy-sweet cranberry sauce is a holiday essential! Homemade cranberry sauce tastes so much better than store-bought and takes just 15 minutes and 3 ingredients to make!
- 1 (340g/12-oz) packages fresh (or frozen) cranberries (3 cups)
- 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
- 1 cup (250 ml) water
- Rinse cranberries.
- In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together cranberries, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Turn heat down to medium and simmer until most of the cranberry skins have burst, about 5 minutes. The cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.
- Transfer the cranberry sauce to a serving dish, and chill until thick.
Keywords: cranberry sauce, cranberry sauce recipe