You won't even miss the bird Vegetarian: Putting together a tempting Thanksgiving feast that carves out the turkey.

November 13, 1996|By Mary Carroll | Mary Carroll,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

Living in a small Arizona town one memorable Thanksgiving, I drastically overbooked myself on the big day. I cooked and served (but never ate) three multi-course Thanksgiving dinners. When it was all over, I had a cheese sandwich and a hot bath at home. Happy Thanksgiving, I thought, glad the day was over.

As a part-time caterer, this was not so unusual a holiday for me. My specialty was catering vegetarian feasts for those who wanted to celebrate but counted among their number folks who abstained from the Bird. And that year there were plenty of customers.

My small crew and I followed the same rules to prepare holiday vegetarian meals as we did with any other festivity. We looked for hearty main dishes that were harvest-oriented, and we put flair into the large number of side dishes and hors d'oeuvres. No one missed the turkey -- or at least, they never mentioned it.

As more and more vegetarian cookbooks and magazines line the bookstore shelves and newsstands these days, the repertoire for the vegetarian Thanksgiving meal grows. It's not unusual for one or more family members to shun the turkey in favor of the vegetable dishes.

If you're going to have vegetarians at your table at Thanksgiving, they'll certainly want to share the festive atmosphere, so look for vegetarian recipes that are elegant, hearty and full of harvest aromas and tastes. Keep tradition with a flavorful bread dressing, gravy, and cranberry sauce. Serve a satisfying main course such as winter squash stuffed with herbs, nuts and sauteed vegetables.

Butternut squash is always a favorite choice in our menus; it lends its trademark buttery flavor to this delicious entree.

Stuffed butternut squash with wild rice, apricots

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 large butternut or Hubbard squash

1/3 cup defatted stock

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chopped apples

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

1/2 teaspoon dried sage, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

2 cups cooked wild rice

1 cup toasted bread crumbs

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, optional

1/3 cup chopped celery

salt, ground black pepper

Halve squash and scoop out seeds. Set aside.

Pour stock into 10-inch nonstick skillet and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, 8 minutes or until soft. Add garlic, apples, apricots, sage, thyme and wild rice. Cook 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir in bread crumbs, pine nuts, celery and salt and pepper to taste. Mound mixture over squash halves. Place on baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees 1 hour or until squash shell is soft. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes longer or until stuffing is lightly browned.

Here is a delicious dish from the Martin House restaurant in Provincetown, Mass.

Martin house spiced yams with ginger and pears

Makes 6 servings

2 pounds yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 ripe pears, peeled, cored and diced

Steam yams 10 to 15 minutes or until soft enough to mash. Drain well. Transfer to large bowl. Mash well with ginger, cardamom, coriander and salt. Fold in pears. Spoon into shallow nonstick 2-quart baking dish and smooth top. Bake at 350 degrees 15 to 20 minutes.

LTC Grilled marinated vegetables

Makes 8 servings

1/4 cup dry sherry or apple juice

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt, black pepper

2 medium eggplant, thickly sliced

2 large Vidalia or other sweet onions, quartered

4 large red bell peppers, cut into eighths

2 cups whole button mushrooms

Combine sherry, vinegar, oil and salt and pepper to taste in large salad bowl and mix well.

Add eggplant, onions, red bell peppers and mushrooms and toss to coat well. Marinate at room temperature 3 hours, tossing occasionally.

Put veggies on grill, basting with marinade. Grill over hot coals or under broiler (then, use baking sheet) 20 minutes, turning and basting frequently, or until golden brown and soft. Serve warm.

Pub Date: 11/13/96

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