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A Very Vegan Thanksgiving Debriefing

I don’t know about you, but I was all set to break out the Tofurky this Thanksgiving. In the end, though, my cousin invited me over for an intimate vegan gathering, and for a change, a fake roast was not the centerpiece. She said I didn’t have to bring anything, that I should consider myself a guest, but my mother would roll over in her grave if I went to someone’s house and didn’t bring something, no matter what I’d been told.

Dinner started a little late because the Butternut Squash Risotto didn’t seem to want to cook (man, it’s hard to find a recipe without Parmesan cheese!). But that was fine because I’d made an appetizer: the Artichoke Puffs from Carol Adams’ Living Among Meat Eaters, tasty, flaky little treats filled with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, roasted red pepper, scallions and garlic. Everyone was surprised I’d made them because I’m not a mushroom fan; in fact, they’re way more mushroomy than artichokey. But these small bites are incredibly savory and flavorful, so if mushrooms are your thing, you’ll definitely want to pull Carol’s book off the shelf and flip to the recipe section. There aren’t many recipes in the book, but the ones that are there were well-chosen, and I’ve never been disappointed.

Carol Adams’ Artichoke Puffs should really be called Mushroom Puffs. These tasty bites were almost gone before I got a chance to take a picture!

When the risotto was finally ready, we sat down to eat. And this is how the meal played out: apple and cabbage salad with sesame-tamari dressing; Portuguese kale soup with red beans and Field Roast Mexican Sausages; Candle 79’s Cornmeal-Crusted Tempeh, marinated in garlic and ginger (she never got around to encrusting it, but it was still delish!); a mash of parsnip, potato and celery root; and, of course, the risotto. Everything was amazing—I would make the tempeh any day of the year, and the soup was incredibly flavorful, even if the sausages were way too spicy for my wimpy palate. That said, I would have preferred the risotto seasoned more traditionally; cumin and tarragon just don’t do it for me. But overall the meal was stellar, as was the company.

Then it was time for dessert. My cousin made the best Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake I’ve ever tasted (she used the classic filling from the spelt crust recipe). Okay, so she bought a premade crust, but she used fresh pumpkin from her CSA share instead of puree from a can—how’s that for ambitious? She also made a cashew cream to go on top, but it was incredibly rich, so I opted for a dollop of vanilla ice cream instead. What can I say, I’m a purist.

Of course, I’d made a dessert, too. Though delicious, the cookies were a departure from the route I normally would have taken: Chocolate, my ingredient of choice, gives my cousin migraines, and her husband can’t digest tofu. So as you can see, my options were limited. Leave it to Hannah Kaminsky to save the day! Her Maple Pistachio Cremes, from My Sweet Vegan, were pure genius: a sandwich of simple cookies, sweetened with maple syrup, and filled with a thick, rich pistachio paste. The dough was so delicious, I didn’t think there’d be any left to make the cookies with. And the cream was just the right balance of rich and sweet. I’m always amazed when recipes with very few ingredients pack such a flavor punch, and these treats definitely fall into that category.

Hannah Kaminsky’s Maple Pistachio Cremes are simple and sweet yet rich, the perfect holidy treat for anyone who can’t have chocolate or soy (I used hemp rather than soymilk).

So yet again, we vegans prove that being animal-free doesn’t mean being deprived, and that we can stuff ourselves with the best of them. How was your holiday? Did you use any of our reader-submitted recipes? Let us know how your Thanksgiving meal turned out. And start thinking about what you’ll be serving for Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa!

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