Stand Aside, Turkey: The New Vegetarian Main Course for Thanksgiving

Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times  |  Updated: July 13, 2017 10:36 IST

Stand Aside, Turkey: The New Vegetarian Main Course for Thanksgiving
When it comes to Thanksgiving Day, vegetarian and vegan diners aren’t looking for fake turkey or tofu. They want what everyone else at the table wants: delicious food to celebrate the fall harvest.

This year, as part of the Well column’s annual Vegetarian Thanksgiving, we asked New York Times readers to send us showstopping vegetarian or vegan dishes that can hold their own at the center of the holiday table. We wanted dishes that would make the meat eaters take a second look — or better yet, skip the turkey altogether.

Our search for the next great vegetarian main course did not disappoint. Readers submitted a variety of recipes, using various cooking techniques and packed with the flavors of fall. All of them are featured at

One of our favorites is this pumpkin ravioli with sage walnut pumpkin butter, submitted by Kate Reilly, a reader in Bedford Hills, New York. The homemade ravioli are simple to make but add a wow factor to the holiday table. Plus, they can be made ahead and frozen and cooked up in minutes on the day. It was a dish born out of necessity.

“With four meat eaters, three vegetarians and one carnivorous but lactose-free family member, Thanksgiving can be a cooking challenge,” Reilly said. “I wanted one dish that would be spectacular, could be made ahead of time and frozen, eaten on Thanksgiving Day and all weekend — or later — with little effort.”

Over the last seven years of collecting new vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes on Well, we’ve learned that inviting a vegetarian or vegan to your holiday table creates more opportunity than challenge. Readers have seen that by making flavorful vegetarian and vegan dishes, they end up enhancing everyone’s meal.Ann Schreifels of Peoria, Illinois, who created a festive vegan torte layered with chickpeas and walnuts, green lentils and sliced sweet potatoes, said creating her dish was “much like the original Thanksgiving legend where two cultures were brought together to enjoy nature’s bounty.” But in this case, she said, the two cultures were “omnivore and vegan.”

Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Walnut Pumpkin Butter

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Yield: 60 ravioli


1 small cinderella or sugar pumpkin, halved and seeded

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

Sea salt and black pepper

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, more as needed

Semolina flour

About 3 pounds fresh pasta sheets

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped

2 tablespoons crushed walnuts

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


Heat oven to 400 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place pumpkin on pan, cut sides up, drizzle with olive oil and generously season with brown sugar, salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, or until soft. Allow to cool slightly.

2. Scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin into the bowl of a food processor. Add egg and nutmeg, and purée until smooth. Set aside 1/4 cup pumpkin purée for the sauce.

3. Dust a work surface with semolina flour. Lay out a sheet of pasta, then place 2 teaspoons of filling every few inches. Brush around the filling with water, then place a second pasta sheet over the top. Cut with a ravioli stamp or sharp knife, and crimp to seal individual raviolis.

4. Bring a large pot of water to boil and season with 2 tablespoons salt. Drop in ravioli a few at a time and cook for 5 to 7 minutes.

5. Make the sauce to serve by heating 1 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the reserved 1/4 cup pumpkin filling, the sage leaves, walnuts, balsamic vinegar and a few grinds of nutmeg and cook until combined and sizzling. Spoon sauce onto plates and top with ravioli.

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Tip: Ravioli can be frozen on a cookie sheet dusted with semolina flour. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer storage bag, return to the freezer. Ravioli can be cooked from frozen; increase cooking time to 10 minutes.

© 2015 New York Times News Service


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