“What do you eat instead of turkey?”
I have heard this question around the holidays almost as often as good ol’ protein.
Anyone else find that ironic?
Because with all traditional holiday dinners I remember the turkey was never the most interesting thing to eat. It’s always the sides, stuffings, and gravies that get attention (and get polished off)!
I think the answer to what to eat instead of turkey is… the good stuff! However, today I’ll give you some recipes to answer a little more politely. 😬
Instead of Turkey, serve…
1. Yellow Sweet Potato Chickpea Pie with Basil
The ingredients and flavors in this dish might catch you by surprise, but the chickpeas and sweet potato add body, giving a quiche-like texture. Try serving with my “Homestyle Gravy” from Plant-Powered Families, page 109.
image credit: Anna Pelzer
Yellow Sweet Potato Chickpea Pie with Basil
- 1-2 tablespoon water to saute
- 1 - 1 1/4 cups diced onion
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced minced
- 1/2 tsp scant sea salt
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 14-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 1 3⁄4 cup)
- 1 cup cooked yellow-fleshed sweet potato (skins removed) see note
- 1/4 cup chickpea flour
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon turmeric optional, for color
- 1/2 cup packed fresh basil
- 2-3 tablespoons pine nuts for sprinkling (optional; slivered almonds are also nice)
- 1 9-inchprepared whole wheat pastry crust, thawed (or other crust of choice) (optional, see note)
- Preheat oven to 425°F. In a skillet over medium heat, combine the water or oil oil, onion, garlic, 1⁄2 (scant) teaspoon of salt, and pepper. Cook for 9 to 12 minutes, until the onion has softened and becoming golden (reduce heat if needed, to prevent garlic from burning). Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine all the remaining ingredients, including the remaining 3⁄4 teaspoon of salt, except the basil and pine nuts (and pie shell!). Puree until very smooth. Once the onion mixture is cooked, add it to the food processor and puree again until smooth. Add the basil and puree fairly well, but leave a little more unprocessed with green flecks. Transfer to the pie shell, scraping out all of mixture. Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 375°F, sprinkle on the pine nuts, and bake for 20 to 22 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing.
- Sweet Potato Note: I cook the sweet potato in advance by baking it whole in the oven. Simply scrub the potato, leaving the peel intact, and place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Bake at in a preheated 400°F oven for about 45 to 60 minutes, until tender throughout (time depends on size of the potato). The first couple of wedges of pie will be the trickiest to cut and serve; the pie is much easier to slice and remove from the pie plate after it has been allowed to cool for 10 to 15 minutes. You can use orange sweet potato if you cannot find yellow, just the color of the pie will change (and you can omit the turmeric).
- Savvy Subs and Adds You can use cannellini beans or other white beans in place of the chickpeas. The pie will be a touch looser with white beans, as chickpeas are firmer, but still great!
- Serving Suggestions: Serve the pie with a fresh salad, and another vegetable such as Simplicity Asparagus or steamed broccoli. A side of long-grain brown rice or roasted potatoes is also good, and the pie can be topped with a sauce or gravy of choice, such as Smoky Spiked Tahini Sauce or Rosemary Gravy from LTEV, or my "Homestyle Gravy" from Plant-Powered Families, page 109.
- Pie Shell Note: If you want to make the tart without the crust, simply prepare the pie plate with a spray of oil (or wipe), and then bake for about 5 minutes less.
2. Festive Chickpea Tart
Not only have I been making this tart for Christmas for many years, so have many of you!
I hear from readers all the time that this recipe is part of your holiday menu. Some of you double-batch and freeze one for later, and many of you bake it crustless for a gluten-free version. You can find this popular cbickpea tart recipe here.
3. No-Fu Love Loaf
I think this recipe resonates so well with folks because (1) it has familiar flavors (2) it’s easy to pair with gravy and sides and (3) it doesn’t use seitan, tvp or tofu (hence the name), making it ‘friendly’ for vegans and non-vegans alike.
No-Fu Lentil Loaf
- ½ cup brown green lentils
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 3/4 cup bulgur toasted cracked wheat (for gluten-free version, use certified gf steel cut oats)
- 1 cup water boiled
- 1/4 cup natural ketchup
- 1 cup rolled or quick oats ensure gf certified for gluten-free
- 3 tbsp tamari
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp ground white chia or can use flax meal
- 2 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce see note for gf version
- 2 tbsp tahini or sunflower seed butter
- 2 tsp blackstrap molasses
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- ¼ - 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/8 tsp ground fennel optional
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3-4 tbsp natural ketchup
- 1 tsp vegan worcestershire sauce optional OR 2 tsp vegan bbq sauce (optional)
- Combine the lentils, vegetable stock, 1⁄3 cup of water, and bay leaf in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until just about tender. Once done, add the bulgur and boiling water, cover, and cook on medium-low heat for another 8 to 9 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil an oven-proof glass loaf pan and line the bottom of the pan with a strip of parchment paper to cover (place it in to protrude along the short ends of the pan; this helps for easier removal of the veggie loaf from the pan). Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl.
- Once the bulgur is cooked, remove the bay leaf and add all the remaining ingredients (except topping). Stir very well. Transfer the mixture to prepared pan and pack it in. Spread the topping mixture over the top.
- Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25 to 28 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 7 to 8 min- utes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 to 15 min- utes or so, before cutting to slice and serve.
- Allergy-Free or Bust! Despite its not having any tofu, tempeh, or TVP, I cannot technically categorize this recipe as “soy free” because of the inclusion of tamari and vegan Worcestershire sauce. These are important seasonings in the loaf. That said, to replace the Worcestershire for a gluten-free version, use instead an extra 1⁄2 tablespoon of wheat-free tamari, along with an extra 1⁄2 teaspoon of molasses, and 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar.
- Savvy Subs and Adds: If you’d like to add some veggies to the loaf, try adding 1⁄2 cup of seeded and finely chopped green pepper, or 1⁄4 cup of finely chopped celery (stir into the mixture with the seasonings).
- Serving Suggestions: Rosemary Gravy is excellent with this loaf, but this dish is equally delicious served with condi- ments as a burger of sorts: Pop slices of the loaf into pita or a folded tortilla, along with ketchup and vegan mayonnaise (or “Almonnaise”).
Another veggie loaf to consider as a main instead of turkey is this Autumn Dinner Loaf from PPF. This recipe is similar to my No-Fu in that it’s a loaf, however the flavors and ingredients are different. First, it’s not legume-based. This one uses a base of carrots along with rice, oats, and almonds seasoned simply but sufficiently with sage and rosemary, for a comforting, homey taste and texture.
The beauty of this loaf is its preparation. All the ingredients into the food processor, then into the loaf pan. No saute or other fussy prep needed! Recipe here.
5. Moroccan Phyllo Rolls
Finally, instead of turkey, try these Moroccan Chickpea and Vegetable Phyllo Rolls (originally from eat, drink & be vegan). These rolls don’t have traditional flavors for a holiday main course, with the moroccan seasonings, it’s a dish that impresses! I often make phyllo pies or rolls for holiday meals – for that very reason. They always impress, and you can fill with all sorts of savory fillings.
Sometimes I make phyllo in a casserole dish, and layer with a nut or seed dip/pate along with veggies, or do my mushroom potato phyllo pie from my very first book, The Everyday Vegan. I’ve been thinking my artichoke dip would be especially good layered in the phyllo! Definitely give one of these ideas a go, and then drizzle on the Maple Balsamic Sauce (recipe also below)!
Moroccan Chickpea and Vegetable Rolls with Balsamic Sauce
- 2 cups combination of yellow red, and orange bell peppers, chopped
- 2½-3 cups zucchini or yellow squash cubed
- 1 cup onion diced
- 1½-2 cups fennel bulb chopped (about 1 medium bulb)
- ½ cup dried apricots preferably unsulfured, chopped (or if in season, 1 cup fresh figs, stems removed, and halved)
- 5 large cloves garlic minced
- 1 - 1 1/2 tbsp orange juice or balsamic reduction
- 1½ tsp cumin
- ¾ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp paprika
- ¾ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas or white beans
- ½ cup packed fresh basil (or parsley) leaves, minced
- 8 to 12 sheets phyllo pastry sheets whole-wheat or spelt preferred, see notes
- 1 1/2 - 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (see note for oil-free) to brush phyllo
- 1/4 cup chopped or slivered almonds lightly toasted (for garnish)
Preheat oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Line a wide-rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place bell peppers, zucchini, onion, fennel, apricots, and garlic on sheet, and toss with orange juice or balsamic reduction, cumin, ginger, paprika, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Roast in oven for 35–45 minutes, tossing once or twice, until veggies are caramelized in some spots and softened. Remove from oven, toss in chickpeas or white beans and basil, and let cool slightly. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F (190ºC). Line a baking dish or sheet with parchment paper. Place a lightly dampened dish towel over phyllo sheets to keep moist while preparing rolls. Lightly brush top of one sheet with oil. Place another sheet (not brushed with oil) on top. Spread ¾–1 cup roasted veggie mixture (see note) down the center of top sheet, leaving 1–2-in (2½–5-cm) space from edges. Fold left side over filling and roll up, tucking in sides as you go. Brush with additional oil and place in lined baking dish or sheet. Repeat process until all phyllo and mixture are used; you will have 4–6 rolls (see note). Bake for 24–28 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm, drizzled with Balsamic Maple Sauce (recipe below), and garnished with almonds. Serves 4 (or more, as appetizers, see note).
- Oil-Free Adaptation: If you want to make this dish oil-free, substitute the oil for roasting the veggies with about 11/2 - 2 tbsp of orange juice. For the phyllo, you can omit or brush with a little aquafaba (the brine from the can of chickpeas).
Balsamic Maple Sauce
This tangy, sweet sauce will perk up any vegetable or grain, and… it’s a breeze to make! Serve warm over steamed green vegetables or baked sweet potatoes, or use for dipping tempeh, potstickers, spring rolls, and more! It’s also an absolute must to serve with the Moroccan Chickpea-Vegetable Phyllo Rolls (recipe above). Makes about 1/2 cup.
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 medium clove garlic minced
- 1/8 tsp rounded sea salt
- 1 tsp arrowroot powder
- 3 tbsp tamari
- In a saucepan on low heat, combine syrup, vinegar, garlic, and salt, and heat for several minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine arrowroot and tamari, stirring through until well incorporated. Add tamari mixture to saucepan, whisk to combine, and increase heat to bring mixture to a boil, stirring continually. Let boil gently for 1 minute, then remove from heat and let cool slightly (the mixture will thicken more as it cools down).
- Leftovers can be refrigerated.
- This sauce is delicious chilled and drizzled over steamed or sautéed veggies or leafy greens, as a dipping sauce for pan-fried tempeh or tofu, tossed into whole grains or noodle dishes, or topped on sandwich ingredients.
What dish do you love to serve instead of turkey for the holidays? Please share your favorites, I’d love to hear and have you share with others!
enjoy… x Dreena