Y’all. I have a secret.
Being vegan during the holidays is actually kind of awesome.
1. You don’t have to bother with the main dish.
You have complete and total permission to fill up on all the hummus and sesame sticks you want, go STRAIGHT for the side dishes, and eat as many bread rolls as your heart desires.
If you’re anything like me, holiday meals have always ALWAYS been about the side dishes. Win.
2. Food comas optional.
My husband isn’t vegan, but I only cook plant-based foods in our house. I was as shocked as the next Texan when he told me that he loves having a light supper. And a diehard butter-loving friend of mine even admits that eating vegetables for lunch doesn’t make her super exhausted from 2–5.
Now, in America, holidays have never been about moderation. If you WANT to induce food coma? Great! When you’re eating vegan food, you increase your “helpings” capacity twofold. Without a layer of grease and cheese, you can blow through seconds and move on to thirds.
3. Potluck politics.
You know when your aunt brings the green bean casserole? And it’s doused in cream of mushroom soup? And a whole can of crispy fried onions? And it makes your breath taste like the plague but you have to choke it down so you don’t offend her? Or when you other aunt brings stuffing and it’s like swallowing forkfuls of sand?
Well now you can play your vegan card.
Over Thanksgiving, I was lucky enough to have a family that loaded up the table with so many vegan dishes I lost count, but I know we’re not all this lucky. It’s not always easy showing up to a family dinner as the lone vegan. If you’re showing up to a house of Texans who add extra sausage to the stuffing, offal to the gravy, and butter to the rolls, all you’ll have on your plate is a pile of the aforementioned sesame sticks and some Wheat Thins, sans cream cheese dip.
I rounded up some awesome vegan dishes from some of my favorite bloggers, plus threw in a few from Week of Plenty and my old blog, Crandlecakes.
Whether you’re hosting this thing (if that’s the case, hop to) or you’re in charge of the potatoes, you’ll find a reliable recipe here. And don’t worry. If you don’t TELL your bacon-obsessed brother that the rolls are vegan, he’ll never know!
Speaking of family staples, another ubiquitious appetizer is the sausage ball. These flour-y, cheddar-y, fennel-spiced balls bring up holiday memories for many a Texan, and I have to say—the vegan version on peta2 looks pretty close to the real thing.
Pot luck = free hummus. It’s 2015, and when we gather around a table as family, someone’s got to bring the hummus. Skip the shrink-wrapped variety this year and show up with this sweet potato hummus from Sarah Britton of My New Roots.
I’ve liked tofu since the first time I tried it, but I know lots of people who find it a little creepy. If anyone can convert a meat-lover, it’s got to be Lily Diamond of Kale & Caramel. Her herb-crusted tofu looks super satisfying, and I bet the shiitake gravy is great on potatoes too.
As much as I love sides, sometimes you do want a star of the show to sink your teeth into (and to slather with gravy. This vegan loaf from Gena Hamshaw at Food52 look delicious (unlike those seitan roasts I haven’t quite gotten on board with yet!).
Sides (why we’re all here):
First things, first: the bread. Yep! In my world, bread qualifies as a side dish. I made these vegan dinner rolls from Dana of Minimalist Baker and while I was kneading, my mother-in-law called it “a beautiful dough.” If that’s not enough of an endorsement, these things taste exactly like the par-cooked bread rolls you can buy in a plastic bag, but without the chemical aftertaste. In other words, they’re heaven. Make more than you think you need.
Photo by Stephen Johnson
Everything I have ever cooked from Amy Chaplin’s book At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen has been delicious, and delicate but hearty in a super satisfying way. It’s not tofu knocking you over the head, but neither is it just a bunch of crunchy green things. This cauliflower bake looks like a tasty take on shepherd’s pie that would be easy to bring to potluck (and a big hit!).
Let’s talk potatoes. Jessica Murnane, who I mentioned above, has potatoes on lockdown. These chipotle mashed potatoes will definitely make the carnivores jealous. Or try her Shallot Horseradish Mashed Potatoes or Rosemary & Garlic Mashed Sweet Potatoes.
I went to Chloe Coscarelli’s new restaurant in NYC last month, and the vegan burger was everything I dreamed of. The salted caramel fudge vegan ice cream was too creamy for words. This sweet potato mac ‘n’ cheese looks perfect for a holiday table (talk about a crowd pleaser), but also a new weeknight staple? Can’t wait to try it!
The first food blog I ever read was Smitten Kitchen, and while most of Deb’s concoctions are off-limits to me these days (she’s decidedly not vegan!), I still think she’s one of the best recipe writers out there. This crispy, lemony, garlicky broccoli will add something green to your table. You are supposed to be eating vegan, after all. 😛
Speaking of green, Brussels sprouts are a great dish to bring to a party since they hold up well in a Tupperware. Deliciously Ella’s maple glazed version topped with hazelnuts and pomegranate arils look irresistible.
Another food blog I loved when I first started cooking was 101 Cookbooks. Heidi Swanson’s simple, healthy recipes always made me want to try new things with vegetables. This vegetable orzo would be easy to bring to a family dinner, even if you have a long car ride.
You might not consider soup a side dish, but I don’t know any vegans who would turn down a steaming bowl of this vegan broccoli “cheese” soup from Week of Plenty (me!). The nutritional yeast and miso give it a cheesy umami, while a dash of lemon give it the tang it needs.
And in case you didn’t have enough carbs, here’s my FAVORITE bean salad. The creamy white beans mesh so well with the briny capers and sharp lemon…I could eat JUST a bowl of this. (But I won’t, obvz.)
Let’s get the pumpkin out of the way first. Just because Thanksgiving has passed it does NOT mean we have to let go of our gourds.
Then there’s my own pumpkin-spiced bundt cake. Pro-tip: It’s delicious with fresh coconut whipped cream or vegan vanilla bean ice cream.
Lily Diamond’s chocolate cream pie on Kale & Caramel has all the necessary fall buzzwords: pecan, crumble, bourbon—and a bonus—gingersnap. This thing looks CRAZY. And by crazy, I mean the best thing since sliced bread.
And while we’re on pies, here’s another from Ashlae at Oh, Ladycakes (I told you her stuff was good).
And if you’re really after a piping hot dessert with rivulets of just-melted ice cream running through crags of sugar and oats, then this is your dish: my Healthy But Still Delicious Apple Crisp on Week of Plenty.
The Morning After
You know, when everyone wakes up at the crack of dawn to brave the mall, but you cozy up with some coffee and eat another pastry. It’s like the way a beer helps you get over a hangover…I’ve heard…
Okay, ONE more from Ashlae: pumpkin wake-and-bake cinnamon rolls.
And last but not least, my JUMBO sorghum-pecan banana muffins. These super versatile muffins work with maple syrup swapped in, walnuts instead of pecans, or even in tiny little mini-muffin tins (just make sure to adjust cooking time accordingly). Bonus, the house smells like fall nirvana while these are baking.
What did I miss? What are your favorite vegan holiday go-tos? Let me know in the comments!
The Waco Vegan is no longer updated. You can find me over at RandleBrowning.com instead.