2 Easy Ways to Sneak Vegan Dishes Onto Your Thanksgiving Spread
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Have you ever looked at a vegan recipe that uses a thousand ingredients for a single sauce, said “yeah, right," and stuck a frozen tofu meal in the microwave instead? The Forks Over Knives Flavor! ($20) cookbook won't do that to you. Darshana Thacker, culinary projects manager of Forks Over Knives (the company behind the 2011 documentary), just released a book full of whole-food, plant-based renditions of her favorite foods from around the world, including tacos, curry, and pizza. Sure, Thacker will have you make cheese out of cashews and sweetener out of dates, but she won't call for obscure roots and spices. She thinks you'll find that those few extra steps are worth the healthier, happier way you'll feel.
Especially exciting right now. Flavor! is full of nourishing alternatives to meaty Thanksgiving staples that even your grandparents will like. Read on to learn more about the release and for two celebration-friendly recipes.
Thacker grew up cooking with her vegetarian family in Mumbai, so naturally her book includes Indian-inspired dishes like sweet potato tikkis (potato patties) with fresh cilantro chutney and masala-baked corn on the cob. But Flavor! also includes foods from just about every other part of the world. You can go to Spain one night with tortilla española and then have maple-orange Moroccan pancakes the next morning.
While you're whipping up these worldly meals, you might also learn that a vegan diet isn't so hard. Thacker became a vegan in 2003 when she moved to the US and met Brian Wendel, the president of Forks Over Knives (and now her life partner). She found that her diet based on fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and starches has given her more mental clarity, energy, and happiness. When you bite into her rustic pizza toasts or crunchy hashbrown waffles with applesauce, you just might feel the same way.
Our favorite part about Flavor! (and this is hard to narrow down) is the baked entrées section, which has mouthwatering comfort food recipes for entertaining a crowd or eating throughout the week. Think pastitsio (Greek baked pasta with lentils and potato “cheese" sauce), potato panade (basically a creamy potato-bread casserole), and tamale pie with vegetable picadillo, all three of which we'll be bookmarking for the colder months.
Even though Flavor! is written by “hands-down thebest whole-food, plant-based chef there is" (as Wendel puts it in the preface), the book feels more approachable than overly aspirational. You can tell that Thacker truly does cook these dishes on a normal weeknight, which means you can cook them, too. Below are two of our favorite Thanksgiving-worthy recipes from the book.
Baked Brussels Sprouts in Creamy Mustard Dressing Recipe
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Brussels sprouts, when prepared well, are transformed from a not-very-popular vegetable into something really delicious. In this recipe, I shave the Brussels sprouts and then bake them in a creamy mustard sauce; the slight sweetness of the sauce complements the natural bitterness of the vegetable. I like to shred my own Brussels sprouts, since I find that the pre-shredded ones in the grocery store are dried out. For the shredding, you can use a knife, but a food processor or mandoline would make the task easier.
- 1 pound (about 6 cups) Brussels sprouts, sliced 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick
- 1 pound (about 5 ounces) fresh or frozen green peas
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tablespoon low-sodium tamari (or low-sodium soy sauce)
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Spread the Brussels sprouts on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1/2 cup water and bake in the oven for 10 minutes to soften. Remove the baking sheet from the oven.
3. Increase the oven temperature to 425°F.
4. Stir the peas in with the Brussels sprouts and return the baking sheet to the oven. Cook until the Brussels sprouts begin to brown around the edges, about 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, combine the almond flour, mustard, tamari, and vinegar in a blender. Add 1/4 cup water and blend until smooth. Add pepper to taste.
6. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and drizzle 1/4 cup of the dressing over the vegetables. Toss to coat the vegetables with the dressing. Add more as desired, and serve the remaining dressing on the side.
7. Serve warm or chilled.
Apple and Dried Cherry Hand Pies Recipe
Cook Time: 2 hours
It seems as though just about every culture has its version of a small, handheld fruit-filled pastry. Such pies are easy to eat, so they're perfect to take to a picnic or any outdoor occasion. The pies take some time to assemble, but watching your friends and family enjoy them makes it all worthwhile. You can freeze the pies before or after baking and then either bake them as desired or warm the prebaked pastries before serving.
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup hot (but not boiling) water
- 1 cup potato flour (or 1 1/2 cups cooked, mashed russet potatoes)
- 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- unbleached all-purpose flour (or whole-wheat flour) for dusting
- 3 apples, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup grain-sweetened vegan chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup chopped dried cherries (or apricots or other tart fruit; about 3 ounces)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- unbleached all-purpose flour for dusting
- 1/4 tablespoon Trader Joe's Coldbrew Coffee
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed
- whole cane sugar for sprinkling
1. Make the dough. Soak the cashews in the hot water for 20 minutes. Transfer the cashews and their soaking liquid to a food processor fitted with a dough blade and process until creamy. Add the potato flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, and 3/4 cup water. Process to a spongy, soft dough, adding more water if needed to make the dough come together. Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the gluten to relax.
2. Make the filling. Put the apples, chocolate chips, walnuts, cherries, and cinnamon into a bowl and stir to combine.
3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
4. Lightly dust your work surface or cutting board with all-purpose flour. Transfer the dough to the floured surface and knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions, and roll each portion into a ball with your hands.
5. Assemble the hand pies. Prepare an assembly line including a rolling pin, a pastry brush, and a bowl containing all-purpose flour for dusting. Clear a clean, flat work surface or cutting board for rolling out the dough.
6. Dust a rolling pin with flour and roll one ball of dough into an 8-inch disk, dusting the work surface and dough with flour as needed. With a knife or bench scraper, trim off the edges to cut the disk to form a square. Reserve the scraps to reroll.
7. Divide the square of dough into four imaginary quadrants. Mound 2 tablespoons of the filling in each of the two lower quadrants. Fold the top edge of the dough to meet the bottom edge, covering the filling and forming a rectangle with the long edge facing you. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut the rectangle in half down the middle to form two hand pies. Press on the edges of the dough with the tines of a fork or your fingertips to seal the edges, dusting your fingers or the fork with flour if the dough is too sticky to crimp. Transfer the finished hand pies to one of the prepared baking sheets.
8. Repeat, rolling out the remaining dough and filling, cutting and crimping them as you did the first batch, placing them on the second prepared baking sheet as they are completed. Reroll the reserved scraps to form additional hand pies.
9. Place both baking sheets in the oven and bake the hand pies for 25 minutes.
10. Meanwhile, combine the flaxseed meal in a small bowl with 1/2 cup hot water and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid, and discard the contents of the strainer.
11. Remove the hand pies from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 400°F.
12. Brush each hand pie with the flaxseed gel and sprinkle liberally with sugar. Return the hand pies to the oven, rotating them from front to back and from top to bottom rack. Bake for about 5 minutes, until they are golden brown.
13. Remove the hand pies from the oven. Allow them to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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(Photography credit: Matt Armendariz Photography / From the book Forks Over Knives: Flavor! by Darshana Thacker. Copyright © 2018 by Forks Over Knives LLC. Published on October 30, 2018 by Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.)
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