Tal Ronnen's Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and if you're anything like me, you've been thinking about nothing else for the past week. The menu is pretty much out of my hands on this one, since we go up to Vermont to eat with my fam. If it were at our place, I'm sure I'd be spending a lot of time dreaming up ways to spice things up.

Whether you're having turkey, Turk'y or Tofurky (does anyone really eat that?), you might be looking for a few new ideas for veg-friendly side dishes. The following recipes, created by Vegan chef Tal Ronnen, were sent to me by Gardein to share here. I haven't tried any of them yet for one reason or another (such as: I'm sick of red beet juice getting on everything, and I can't find pumpkin seeds without hacking open a pumpkin, and I'm not sure where to get the best "non-dairy cream cheese"), but they sound pretty good if you're up for it.
Chef Tal Ronnen  (*all photos courtesy Gardein) 

Recipes by Chef Tal Ronnen, author of The Conscious Cook

Beet and Orange Autumn Salad
Sage and Pumpkin Seed Encrusted Gardein with Cranberry Cabernet Sauce
Green Beans with Fresh Cranberries
Creamy Mashed Potatoes with Chives
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Oven Roasted Banana Rum Cheesecake with Spiced Pecan Crust and Maple Rum Sauce
Beet and Orange Autumn Salad

cider vinegar ......1/2 cup
sherry vinegar ....1/2 cup
maple syrup ........2 oz
shallots, minced ..2 tbsp
black pepper, crushed .....1/4 tsp
coriander ground....1/4 tsp
dry mustard... pinch
fenugreek ground ....1/4 tsp
canola oil, cold pressed ....6 oz
olive oil, extra-virgin ....10 oz
chives thinly sliced ....3 tbsp
baby spinach, washed ....3 cups
orange, sectioned and peeled .....3

red beets, golf ball sized, peeled & roasted....10
canola oil....2 tbsp
for the vinaigrette
In a large saucepan, combine the vinegars, maple syrup, shallots, black pepper, coriander, dry mustard, and fenugreek. Bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer until reduced by one-third. Remove from the heat and chill. Once chilled, purée in a blender, while slowly adding the canola and the olive oils. Strain, then add the chives.
for the roasted beetsVegetable oil sufficient to coat the beets. Heat the oven to 400°f. In a baking dish, combine the beets with the vegetable oil and roast until soft (approx 45 minutes). Peel and chill.
to assemble the salad
Slice the beets and arrange on a plate with the orange slices and spinach then drizzle with the maple sherry vinaigrette.

6 servings
10 min prep
45 min cook


Sage and Pumpkin Seed Encrusted Gardein with Cranberry Cabernet Sauce

…for the sauce
extra virgin olive oil....3 tbsp
large shallot....1
sprigs of thyme....4
dried cranberries....1/4 cup
cabernet....1 cup
faux chicken stock or vegetable broth....1 cup
arrowroot....1 tbsp
water....2 tbsp
‘earth balance’ butter....3 tbsp
salt and pepper....to taste

…for the cutlets
chick’n scallopini (frozen)...12 (3 pkgs.)
chick’n filets (fresh)....12 (3 pkgs.)
minced fresh sage....1 tbsp
toasted pumpkin seeds (without shells)....1 cup
paprika....1 tsp
panko breadcrumbs...1 cup
nutritional yeast flakes....2 tbsp
unbleached white flour

unsweetened soy milk...2 cups
olive oil for sautéing

salt and pepper....to taste

…for the sauce
Heat the oil in a sauté pan. Add the shallots and sauté for 3 mins. Add the thyme and cranberries and sauté for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cabernet and scrape the bottom of the pan, then reduce the liquid by half. Add the stock and reduce by half. Mix the arrowroot with the water and add to the pan. Stir well and continue to cook for 2 mins. Turn heat off and whisk in the vegan butter 1 tbsp. at a time. Remove thyme stems.
…for the cutlets
In a food processor, process the sage, seeds, paprika, bread crumbs, yeast, salt, and pepper until well incorporated. Thaw the frozen scaloppini. Dredge each Gardein cutlet in flour, then dip into the soy milk and then into the panco breadcrumbs. Sauté on each side until browned and crisp.

6 servings
20 min
40 min
Green Beans with Fresh Cranberries

fresh green beans, trimmed and cut on the diagonal ¾ lbs
margarine 2 tbsp.
cranberries 1 cup
garlic, minced and pressed 1 clove
fresh parsley, chopped 2 tbsp.
fresh tarragon, chopped 1 tbsp.
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the beans and cook for 3 to 4 mins. Drain the beans in a colander and hold under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Blot the beans with a paper towel to remove the excess water. Put the beans into a dry skillet and heat over medium heat until the remaining moisture on the beans evaporates. Stir in the margarine, cranberries, garlic, parsley, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat well. Cook until heated through.

6 servings
15 min prep
15 min cook
Creamy Mashed Potatoes with Chives
Pre-prep tip! Need to soak raw cashews overnight! (Or, if you’re short on time, use soy milk instead)

large potatoes, diced 6
cashew cream (recipe follows) 1 cup
Earth Balance vegan butter 3 tbsp.
chopped fresh chives ¼ cup
salt and pepper to taste


Cashew cream
Soak 2 cups of raw cashews overnight. Add the soaked cashews to a blender and fill with water sufficient to cover the cashews by 1”. Blend on high for 2 mins. Tip: if not using a professional high-speed blender, you might need to strain the cream through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth. May substitute soy milk for cashew cream, if needed.

Mashed potatoes
Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 mins. Drain the potatoes, place in a bowl with the remaining ingredients, and mix until smooth. Serve hot.

6 servings
20 min prep
20 min cook

Sweet Potato Biscuits

unbleached white flour 1 cup
baking powder 1 tbsp.
salt 1 tsp.
Earth Balance vegan butter, chilled 2 tbsp.
agave nectar 1 tsp.
mashed sweet potatoes, cooled ¾ cup
unsweetened soy milk ¼ cup

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in the margarine until well
incorporated. Add the agave nectar, sweet potatoes, and soy milk and combine, forming a soft dough.Roll the dough out on a floured work surface to ½“ thickness. Cut out biscuits of desired size. Bake in a preheated 400°F oven on a greased baking sheet for 12 to 15 mins.

8 biscuits
20 min prep
20 min cook
Oven Roasted Banana Rum Cheesecake with Spiced Pecan Crust and Maple Rum Sauce
For oven-roasted bananas:
4 very ripe bananas

For sauce:
1 cup grade B organic maple syrup
4 tablespoons Earth Balance
Sea salt
1 tablespoon dark rum
For crust:
1 cup pecan nut flour
½ cup spelt flour (white or whole)
1 tablespoon firmly packed light
brown sugar
4 tablespoons Earth Balance,
partially melted
⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of sea salt
For filling:
16 ounces nondairy cream cheese
¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup dark rum
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
To serve:
Toasted pecan halves
step 1: make the oven-roasted bananas:Preheat the oven to 325. Place 4 large, very ripe, unpeeled bananas on a roasting pan and roast for 15-20 minutes, until bananas are soft and skin turns dark brown. let bananas cool to room temperature in the pan in their skins. Set aside. Increase oven temp to 400.
step 2: make the spiced pecan crust:Combine 1 cup pecan nut flour*, 1/2 cup spelt flour, 1 tbsp. firmly packed light brown sugar, 4 tbsp. partially melted vegan butter, 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, and a pinch of sea salt in a bowl and stir until well incorporated. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and put in freezer for 5 minutes. Bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes, until crust is a little dry and edges are light golden. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
*To make pecan nut flour, freeze the nuts overnight, then place in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Freezing the nuts prevents them from turning into nut butter when you process them.
step 3: make the filling:Peel the roasted bananas and remove any obvious strings. Puree bananas in a food processor until very smooth. Add 16 oz. nondairy cream cheese, 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/4 cup dark rum, 2 tbsp. cornstarch, and 1/4 tsp. salt then pulse until smooth, scraping sides of bowl periodically. Do not overprocess or cream cheese will separate and curdle.
step 4: bake cheesecake:Pour the filling into the crust and bake at 400 for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 and bake another 35-45 minutes, until the top is the color of light brown sugar and center is set. A toothpick inserted in center should come out clean. Let cheesecake cool to room temperature on a rack for at least 1 hour, then cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
step 5: make maple rum sauce:In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup maple syrup, 4 tbsp. vegan butter, and sea salt to taste and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tbsp. dark rum, stirring carefully, as sauce will bubble up a bit. Let cool for a few minutes then taste and add more salt if necessary. Cool to room temperature, then transfer to a squeeze bottle. if not using immediately, the sauce can be rewarmed by putting the bottle in a pan of hot water off the heat.
to serve: In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup maple syrup, 4 tbsp. vegan butter, and sea salt to taste and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.

6-8 servings
2 hrs prep (plus 3 hrs chilling)
45 min cook
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