I’m not sure how it came to pass that American Thanksgiving became firmly linked with turkey, but people don’t feel like they’ve celebrated properly without it. Of course, this is a dilemma for vegetarians.
Fortunately, there are some good imitation turkey products out there – and some NOT good ones, too. My favorite is Worthington’s Smoked Turkey Roll. This 4 lb log comes frozen and can be a little tricky to find. I’ve had luck at Adventist Book Stores and some natural food stores. It, also, can be purchased on Amazon.
But let’s be honest. A slice of fake turkey is NOT the same as a slice of the real thing. So I decided to create a layered Thanksgiving pie, incorporating the fake turkey into the bottom layer with the dressing, thus giving the essence of turkey flavor. Layer with other traditional Thanksgiving dishes of mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and gravy – and you’ve got yourself a vegetarian Thanksgiving.
By the way, if you’re not a fan of turkey, real or fake, then leave it out completely. It will make a delicious and very pretty side dish.
WARNING: Make sure you tell people this is NOT a dessert. It’s so pretty, my husband took a bite, thinking it was a pie (probably because I originally called it Thanksgiving Pie), and spit it out. Very disconcerting to expect pastry crust, cream filling, and cherries, getting instead , “turkey”/stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce.
ONE-DISH “TURKEY” FEAST
- 8 oz whole cranberries
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (I use dark)
- 1 cup onions, chopped small
- 1 cup celery, chopped small
- 7 T butter, divided
- 2 tsp salt, divided
- 1/2 lb imitation turkey
- 5 cups herbed bread cubes (I used Mrs. Cubbison’s)
- 1 cup vegetable stock (I used my homemade VEGETABLE STOCK)
- 2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4″ slices
- MUSHROOM GRAVY (you don’t have to use my recipe – but it’s delicious & super easy)
Make the cranberry sauce ahead of time to give it time to thicken. In a saucepan combine the cranberries, water, and brown sugar. Bring to boil, and let simmer UNcovered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Refrigerate when cooled.
Preheat oven to 350º fahrenheit.
In a large pot melt 4 T butter. Add in onions and celery. Sauté until onions become translucent – about 10 minutes, stirring often.
Note: I used herbed bread cubes. You can use plain ones and add your own herbs to the cooked onions and celery.
While onions are cooking, cut the fake turkey into 3/4″ cubes and pulse in food processor 12 times to form crumbs.
Cook potatoes in salted water until easily pierced with a fork. Drain, add 3 T butter, and 1 tsp salt. Mash. Add milk, if needed so they’re not too dry. Cover to keep warm.
When onions are done, turn off flame and mix in crumbled “turkey”, bread cubes, 1 tsp salt, and vegetable stock. Stir several minutes to moisten the bread cubes – add in extra stock (or water), if needed. (The mixture will need to stick together.) Pat firmly into a greased 10″ x 7½” casserole dish or a 10″ pie pan. (or any other size equivalent).
Cover with foil and bake at 350º F for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes.
Spread mashed potatoes on “turkey”/stuffing layer. Top with cranberry sauce.
Pass the gravy separately.
Note: This dish can be created with Thanksgiving leftovers – just to perk up those bits and bobs.