For our last Thanksgiving in America, I served two alternatives to turkey. Plates were overflowing, which presented fascinating possibilities to the dog.
What do vegetarians eat on Thanksgiving? I wish I had a pound (sterling) for every time I've been asked that. (I once supplied an answer to the Albuquerque Journal.)
Over the years I've prepared a number of bird-less meals, most of them featuring some turkey-like centerpiece. And sides. Lots of them. I love sweet potatoes with pecan topping. My favorite dressing is Wild Rice with Fruit and Nuts. Brussels sprouts can be prepared a variety of festive ways, as can purple cabbage. But I also love a simple dish of fresh green beans, blanched and then sautéd with pine nuts in margarine or olive oil.
Oddly, mashed potatoes have never made an appearance on my Thanksgiving table, although they're often found there on more ordinary days. And yes, we've had the famous Tofurkey, endorsed wholeheartedly by Kathys everywhere.
For many years, I've made Vegetarian Times' No Turkey "Turkey", a real show piece despite its unimaginative name. We make the homemade wholewheat bread cubes the night before, and assemble the rest on Thanksgiving morning.
In recent years, I made this Soy and Seitan "Turkey" from Byranna Grogan. I've altered it slightly—I place it in two loaf pans, or else it creeps over the top. (That could have been due to the altitude.) It's flavorful and moist, essentially a homemade seitan, pronounced Sa-tan. That's right. I eat with the Devil.
A primer on seitan, or gluten "mock meat": Gluten is the protein part of wheat, the bit people on a gluten-free diet want to avoid. Many Chinese restaurants serve it, often as "mock duck". Seitan is available in most health food stores in the U.S., already prepared and marinated in flavored stock. It has a very meat-like texture which seems to please some people. (I prefer the texture of blanched peas, frankly.)
When I asked for gluten in a well-stocked (by British standards) health food store last year, I got blank looks. Then I asked the manager, who told me British HFS's were about five years behind American ones. He's off by a decade or two, but suffice to say, I've never seen either gluten or seitan in stores here. (I got my supply from America.)
Another favorite of vegetarians is a tofu "turkey". I've never made it, but those who have report success. Maybe for Christmas dinner I'll give tofu a whirl.
This year, I'm trying a new recipe. If it works, I'll post it here. It's another version of the Seitan Roast. Shhh...don't tell Bill O'Reilly. He's already mad with us liberals for taking Christ out of Christmas (more on that later); if he hears I'm adding Satan to Thanksgiving he'll pop his already cracked cork.
Why do I suspect Bill O'Reilly never ate his brussels sprouts?
UPDATE: Fast forward to 2006: Here's a recipe for Breast of Tofu with Herb Cornbread Dressing, which surpasses them all, I think, for presentation as well as taste.