Meatless? Me?

Thanks Romulo Yanes, Gourmet, and epicurious for this gorgeous photo.

Thanks Romulo Yanes, Gourmet, and epicurious for this gorgeous photo.

Those who know me know that I am far, FAR, from a vegetarian. As I type this, bacon fat lurks in my freezer for cooking and baking projects, a quarter of a cow nestles snugly in my deep-freeze, and many of my favorite recipes for vegetable sides have traces of meat in them (like this one).

But when my lovely neighbor wrote me, asking if I had ideas for a meatless Thanksgiving, the answer was immediately, yes. Years ago, when I worked at Gourmet magazine, I walked into the test kitchen where the stellar Ruth Cousineau had just pulled this miraculous vision out of the oven—a roasted pumpkin, filled with a pumpkin and root vegetable stew (along with seitan, for some filling protein!). The idea, she explained, was that the problem with vegetarian Thanksgiving wasn’t the lack of meat—almost all the side dishes have no meat at all, and all of them do, if you leave the sausage out of your stuffing. The problem was that there was no obvious central dish to focus on, to take the diners’ breath away, nothing to crow over how beautiful it was this year, the way we meat-eaters do with turkey. This pumpkin absolutely fit the bill, and was completely delicious too. I don’t usually go in for seitan, but it soaked up all the juices and was just right in this dish.

As for a fabulous classic stuffing, do oysters count as meatless?  There I go again, trying to cheat animal protein back into the meal…

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2 thoughts on “Meatless? Me?

  1. Interesting point about there being no “wow factor” to a meatless meal centerpiece. And, i have never had oyster stuffing. It has always sounded horrifying to me.

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