Any vegan will probably tell you the same thing about Thanksgiving dining: You're likely to be limited to a side dish-only meal.
While there are usually quite a few vegetables involved and many traditional side dishes can easily be made vegan, usually with the simple substitution of olive oil for butter or non-dairy milk for regular milk, you're probably going to miss out on an entrée.
And no matter how delicious the sides are, it can feel a little sad, a little out of keeping with a holiday meal that’s so focused on celebration and plenty.
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My strategy is to always offer to bring a vegan main dish to the Thanksgiving feast. Sometimes the host or hostess would rather take charge, and in those cases, I’m happy to put together a colorful plate of vegetable sides. But I’m always happy when I have a chance to contribute a vegan centerpiece, especially since it’s often the case that everyone at the table enjoys it along with me.
The risotto filling is creamy and filling—decidedly worthy of being called a main course—and the mushroom caps create a pretty presentation and an additional layer of substance and heartiness. They’re easy to adapt, and while I love the choice of roasted carrots (which are a little unusual in risotto), you could use pretty much any root vegetable you like.
An added bonus of the recipe is that it’s easy to prepare and assemble in advance (prior to baking), so that you can simply transport and bake on Thanksgiving day.
Once you’ve mastered the recipe, you’ll find that it’s a perfect option for vegan entertaining at any time of year—holiday season or not!
8 large portobello mushroom caps, stems removed and cleaned
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound carrots or parsnips, peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces (cubed beets would also be great here, as would rutabaga or celery root)
Salt and pepper
5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
1 medium shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.