No bird, no problem

Healthful and savory: Best of both worlds with vegetarian dishes

November 10, 2010 


    What: Vegetarian Thanksgiving cooking class

    Who: Bayview School of Cooking with chef Kelsang Tsoglam

    Where: Bayview Thriftway, 516 Fourth Ave. W. Olympia

    When: Nov. 16, 6-8:30 p.m.

    Cost: $45

    Information: 360-754-1448, www.bayviewschoolof

    Also: David Gabbe teaches cooking classes in Tacoma, Puyallup and Olympia starting spring. www.davids

Thanksgiving without the bird? You betcha. Cooking a vegetarian Thanksgiving can be healthful, more varied and a way to take care of guests who have special diets – but that doesn’t mean it’s bland. With a few key recipes and interesting combinations, you’ll have a feast that has the same structure and traditional harvest tastes as a meat-based one, without any animals.

“I’ve been vegetarian for 35 years, and my whole family are vegans,” says Portland-based cooking teacher David Gabbe, fresh from a round of vegetarian cooking classes in the South Sound. “For Thanksgiving, we would cook all plant-based dishes, but it would look traditional – the emphasis being on nuts, apples, beans and grains.”

Oh, and a big old squash. Gabbe doesn’t do fake meat – “One of my motivations for teaching is to promote good health via plant-based, unrefined foods,” he says, explaining that Tofurkey and similar fake meats are made from “unwholesome soy proteins or gluten-based seitan.” But he’s as keen as anyone on a large central dish with lots of stuffing. The solution? Squash – baked, scooped out and stuffed.

“Squashes are great, my kids loved them,” says Gabbe. “Especially if you want the illusion of a fake bird.”

So if a traditional Thanksgiving meal involves a central dish with side dishes orbiting like an edible solar system, can a vegetarian meal look like this?

“Definitely,” says Gabbe. “Usually, my vegetarian meals have no one main dish per se, but the big exception is Thanksgiving.”

For the sides, Gabbe cooks a host of plant-based dishes, most of which reflect harvest time with a slight twist. He does a nondairy corn chowder, salads and steamed vegetables, a maple-glazed millet corn bread and a sweet potato pudding instead of pumpkin pie.

Chef Kelsang Tsoglam is another veggie cook who gives a twist to standard Thanksgiving dishes. Tsoglam’s upcoming Vegetarian Thanksgiving class at Olympia’s Bayview School of Cooking includes roasted butternut squash and caramelized shallot tart with goat chevre, cranberry chipotle corn bread and roasted mini-pumpkins stuffed with Bhutanese rice and quinoa.

Worried about protein? Look through the recipes again: Corn, black beans, quinoa, cheese, nuts and soy milk all provide adequate protein, especially when combined with grains. If you’re vegetarian, of course you’d cook a veggie Thanksgiving dinner. But why would other people want to try it?

“People are looking for lighter foods,” says Gabbe. “Or they need something dairy-free, or gluten-free. Sometimes people have relatives who are vegetarian. And lots of my students just want variety.”

Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568 rosemary.ponnekanti@


Stuffed Squash

Yield: 4-8 servings

4 small delicata (or other) squashes

11/2 cups onions (chopped)

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup each (chopped): celery, mushrooms, and carrots

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil or olive oil

2 teaspoons each (dried) basil, chives, and parsley

1 teaspoon each: liquid smoke, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried thyme

2 cups cooked Chewy Buckwheat (recipe below)

1 cup cooked black beans

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans (chopped)

3 tablespoons red miso dissolved in 3 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pierce squashes and bake 60 minutes, or until tender.

Place onions and next 13 ingredients in large skillet and simmer, covered, 10 minutes.

Add next four ingredients to skillet mixture and combine thoroughly. Set aside.

As soon as squashes are cool to handle, cut each in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and stringy material.

Fill squash halves with stuffing and place squashes in oiled baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes or until stuffing is thoroughly heated.

Note: Refrigerate leftovers and use within 3-4 days.

Source: David A. Gabbe;

Corn Chowder

Yield: Serves 4-6

4 cups unsweetened, plain soy milk or Almond ‘Milk’ (recipe below)

2 cups onions (chopped)

1 cup potatoes (chopped)

1/2 cup celery (chopped)

1/2 cup green onions (sliced)

2 tablespoons olive oil or toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons dried parsley

2 teaspoons garlic powder

11/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon each: paprika and thyme

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen and thawed)

2 tablespoons red miso dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

For the almond milk:

3/4 cup raw almonds

3 cups water

1/4 teaspoon salt

For the chowder: Combine all ingredients, except corn and miso, in large pot. Bring to slow boil over medium heat, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir occasionally. Add corn and simmer an additional 2 minutes to heat corn thoroughly.

Remove chowder from heat. Stir in miso and serve. Note: Refrigerate leftovers and use within five to seven days, or freeze for longer period.

Variation: Replace unsweetened soy milk with 2 cups Almond Milk (recipe below) and 2 cups water. Add 2-4 tablespoons nutritional yeast, if desired.

For the almond milk: Sort through almonds and discard any broken or discolored ones. Thoroughly rinse and drain almonds. Place almonds and 1 cup of water in blender and blend about 30 seconds. With blender on, add remaining water and other ingredients. Blend about 30 seconds longer. Pour blender mix into fine strainer (or in strainer lined with unbleached cheesecloth) and press out milk from pulp with spatula.

Note: Refrigerate leftovers and use within four to five days.

Chewy Buckwheat

Yield: about 3 cups

1 cup uncooked raw buckwheat

1 cup water

Pick through buckwheat and remove any stones or other foreign matter.

Rinse buckwheat.

In pot, combine buckwheat and water. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and leave covered 5-10 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve.

Note: Refrigerate leftovers and use within five to seven days.

Source: David A. Gabbe;

Sweet Potato Pudding

Yield: about 31/4 cups

3 medium sweet potatoes or yams

1 cup nondairy milk

1/4 cup dates (chopped)

2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

Peel sweet potatoes and slice into 1-inch thick rounds.

Steam sweet potatoes 15 minutes or until tender when pierced with fork.

Place sweet potatoes in blender with all remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

Note: Serve immediately. Refrigerate leftovers and use within three to four days.

Source: David A. Gabbe;

Millet Cornbread

Yield: 4-6 servings

2 cups Millet Flour (see attached recipe)

1/2 cup Flax Seed Meal (see attached recipe)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup raw almonds

11/4 cups vanilla soymilk or other nondairy milk

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)

1 medium apple (cored and chopped) or banana

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 recipe Maple Glaze (optional) (see attached recipe)

For the Millet Flour: Take 21/2 cups raw millet and pick through it to remove any stones or other foreign matter. Place 11/4 cups millet in blender and grind into flour (about 30-45 seconds). Remove flour from blender and grind remaining millet. Makes about 2 cups. Note: Refrigerate and use within 14 days, or freeze for longer period.

For the Flax Seed Meal: Place 1/3 cup flax seeds in blender and grind into coarse powder (about 20 seconds). Makes about 1/2 cup. Note: Refrigerate leftovers and use within 7 days, or freeze for longer period.

For the Maple Glaze: Combine 3 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 tablespoon nonhydrogenated vegan margarine (i.e. Earth Balance, Spectrum Spread) and 1 teaspoon vanilla in small bowl. Mix thoroughly. Makes about 1/4 cup. Note: Refrigerate leftovers and use within five to seven days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In bowl, combine first four “dry” ingredients.

Sort through almonds and discard any broken or discolored ones. Rinse almonds.

In blender, blend almonds and liquid until smooth.

Add next four ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.

Pour blender mix into bowl of dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly.

Transfer batter into oiled 8-inch square (or similar size) baking dish or 3 small oiled loaf pans.

Bake 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Cover with glaze, if desired.

Note: Refrigerate leftovers and use within three to four days.

Variation: For a cornier bread, add 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen) to batter and continue as directed.

Source: David A. Gabbe;

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