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A Vegetarian-Friendly Thanksgiving Dinner

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Got vegetarians in the family? Make everyone happy with this versatile menu for 12.

This menu can serve up to 8 carnivores and 4 vegetarians, but you'll need to double the salad, brussels sprouts, and mashed potatoes. The shopping list reflects the scaled-up amounts.

Help vegetarians and turkey-lovers coexist peacefully at the Thanksgiving dinner table with this delicious menu.

The meat-free centerpiece, a beautiful roasted pumpkin stuffed with bread cubes, cheese, and cream, is also a tasty side for the carnivores. A roasted turkey breast topped with chunks of crisp pancetta gives everyone else their meat fix without the need to roast an entire bird.

The meal is completed with creamy Brussels sprouts with wild mushrooms, classic buttermilk mashed potatoes, tangy cranberry sauce, and a pumpkin layer cake with rich brown-butter cream cheese frosting.

Menu Timeline

If you don’t have two ovens, make sure yours is large enough that the pumpkin and turkey breast can both fit in it at the same time.

Up to 3 days ahead:

  • Make the cranberry sauce and refrigerate, covered.

1 day ahead:

  • Bake and frost the pumpkin layer cake (do not garnish with the topping yet).
  • Prep the turkey breast and rub with herb-and-spice paste.

3-1/2 hours ahead:

  • Heat the oven to 450°F.
  • Trim and halve the brussels sprouts and mushrooms, slice the 2 large shallots.

3 hours ahead:

  • Roast the brussels sprouts at 450°F.
  • Remove the turkey breast from the fridge and let sit at room temperature.
  • Clean and stuff the pumpkin.

2-1/2 hours ahead:

  • Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
  • Prep the grapes, greens, shallot and cheese for the frisee salad.

2 hours ahead:

  • Begin baking the pumpkin at 350°F
  • Sear the turkey breast, top with pancetta, and put in the oven to roast with the pumpkin.

1-1/2 hours ahead:

  • Make the mashed potatoes. Keep them warm in a stainless-steel bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
  • Sear the wild mushrooms.

20 minutes ahead:

  • Remove the turkey breast from the oven and let rest, tented with foil.
  • Make the sauce and finish the brussels sprouts and mushrooms.

Just before dinner:

  • Toss together the frisee salad.
  • Sprinkle the nut topping on the pumpkin cake.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce

  • 3 lb. Brussels sprouts
  • 6 lb. russet potatoes (8 to 12 medium)
  • 1-1/2 lb. wild mushrooms, such as chanterelles or hedgehogs
  • 16 cups lightly packed baby frisée or mixed salad greens
  • One 2-1/2- to 3-lb. fresh pumpkin (or two, if you don’t want to use canned puree for the cake)
  • 2 large bunches fresh chives
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary
  • 1 bunch fresh sage
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 small and 2 large shallots
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 4 cups mixed red, green, and/or black grapes
  • One 12-oz. bag fresh or frozen cranberries

Meat, Eggs & Dairy

  • One whole skin-on turkey breast (5 to 7 lb.), boned, or 2 boneless skin-on turkey breast halves (2 to 3 lb. each)
  • 8 pancetta slices (1/8-inch thick) or 8 strips thick-cut bacon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 oz. blue cheese, such as Point Reyes or Maytag
  • 4 oz. Gruyère, Emmenthal, cheddar, or a combination
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 2-1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 2-1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 1-1/2 lb. (6 sticks) unsalted butter

Other Groceries

  • 1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree (if you’re not using fresh pumpkin for the cake)
  • 1/4 lb. artisan bread, such as French or Italian
  • 1-1/3 cup pecans
  • 1 cup unsalted, raw, hulled pepitas
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup verjus
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 3 Tbs. chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 whole nutmeg

Pantry Staples

  • 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the cake pans
  • 2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1-1/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 5 oz. (1-1/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • Kosher salt
  • Black peppercorns

The Menu


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