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Hearty Holiday Entrées that are not the Classic Vegan Roast

Hearty Holiday Entrées that are not the Classic Vegan Roast

diet & exercise lifestyle on being vegan podcast Dec 14, 2017

You know me and my hearty holiday vegan roasts, I simply love them. Whether they're store-bought, made with seitan, our lentil and mushroom holiday roasts, nut roasts, mushroom roasts, etc, I love feeling that there's a traditional hearty main entrée in the center of the table. Since most of our friends and family who come over for Thanksgiving and Christmas aren't vegan, I always love to serve something that will seem familiar. It's why when non-vegans come over and they see this giant platter of perfectly sliced seitan roast with mushroom gravy slathered all over it they get VERY excited! Now we even have ready made roasts from brands like Tofurky, Gardein and Field Roast which even come with their own gravy and all you have to do is heat them up, cook up some sides and you have a perfect holiday meal.

What if however, this year you wanted to make something different. What if, you live in an area where these products aren't as readily available and you want to create something hearty, using simple staples you can find at the grocery store? What if you don't have the time this year to make big holiday roast from scratch? What if you simply want to mix things up and surprise your guests with something different this year? Today's post is all about those hearty vegan main dishes you can make when you want to skip the classic vegan roast.

There are countless options, and the good news is, even if you do feel like making something in the vegan roast arena, you can serve these next to that too!

Let's get to it shall we?

Make a Big Holiday Quiche or Tart


Part of the idea of a main entrée is we're so used to having a central focus on the plate. This doesn't have to be the case, in fact I think what people love most about holiday food are those yummy side dishes, but still, there's something about that focal point right? Individual tarts, or a big tart or quiche that you can place in the center of the plate is a perfect example.

The basics:

  • Vegan quiches and tarts usually start with a standard pie crust.
  • Lots of delicious vegetables and fillings sautéed or roasted: my favorites for the holidays are mushrooms, leeks, broccoli, caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, shallots, tempeh or tofu bacon, potatoes, asparagus, peas and kale.
  • Use some herbs and seasonings to add flavor to your filling: my favorites are sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley, garlic, balsamic vinegar, red wine or sherry, salt (you can add a bit of black Indian salt -kala namak- to add an egg-y flavor to your quiches) and pepper. Use these while you sautée or roast your veggies.
  • Use a base for your batter: cashew cream, heavy non-dairy cream, chickpea flour mixed with broth or water. Flavor this with some nutritional yeast, and any herbs and spices you might like.
  • Use a thickener: like cornstarch, arrowroot powder or flour.
  • Top with herbs, your favorite gravy, cranberry sauce, chutney, compotes or even figs or fig jam!

A yummy recipe to try:

Here's our recipe for my favorite holiday tart, a vegan leek and mushroom tart with figs. It's delicious, easy to make and so incredibly beautiful! Click here for the recipe, or watch the video below!


Make a Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd's Pie

Photo and recipe from

Photo and recipe from

This is a stunning dish that is so comforting for the winter months and looks super festive, especially when you make it like Melissa does, at Cilantro and Citronella (the recipe I'm linking to below). It was also invented by some crazy brilliant cook who thought that mashed potatoes could be a topping. I mean... genius!

The basics:

  • You'll need mashed potatoes. I prefer to make them with non-dairy butter but without any milk or cream when I'm making them for Shepherd's pie, it will help you do all sorts of cool decorations and get very crisp on top.
  • You'll need to make a hearty ragu: My favorite ingredients to choose from for the ragu are onions, shallots, garlic, leek, brown lentils, plenty of mushrooms, peas, carrots, turnips, parsnips and celery.
  • You'll need seasonings and spices: my favorites are bay leaves (which you'll then remove), rosemary, thyme, sea salt, pepper, soy sauce or tamari soy sauce, tomato paste, liquid smoke and paprika.
  • You'll need vegetable broth and sometimes a thickener for the gravy like flour, cornstarch or arrowroot powder.
  • After creating a flavorful and rich ragu, place it in a casserole dish and top with mashed potatoes and bake until the potatoes are golden and slightly crispy. Traditionally, Shepherd's pies also had the mashed potatoes on the bottom and sides, making the perfect potato pie! If doing this, make sure to rub the bottom and sides of your casserole dish with oil, herbs and some breadcrumbs to ensure that the sides and bottom also get slightly crispy. We'll have a recipe using this method soon!

A yummy recipe to try:

This gorgeous Shepherd's Pie by Cilantro and Citronella. this one will surely get everyone excited to dig in.

Photo and recipe from

Photo and recipe from

Make a Big Stuffed Squash or Pumpkin, or Individual Ones!


Nothing screams Christmas or the Holidays more than something that's stuffed with delicious fall and winter flavors. They also make great central points to the dish and they look stunning! When you make individual ones, watch people melt with cuteness at the thought of having their own little stuffed pumpkins, plus, they're very easy and quick to make! Make a gravy or sauce so that people can pour it on top.

The basics:

  • You'll need one big pumpkin or squash or individual ones.
  • You'll need a whole grain like quinoa, bulgur wheat, couscous, wild rice, or your favorite grain to serve as the base for your pilaf.
  • You'll need to sauté some vegetables and seasonings to add flavor to your grains.
  • You can also add a protein source if desired in the form of things like crispy tofu, crumbled smoky tempeh or our tempeh bacon, lentils, beans, peas, etc.
  • Add some holiday additions that provide crunch and sweetness: pecans, walnuts, slivered almonds, dried cranberries, raisins, chopped dried apricots or figs.
  • Add seasonings and herbs: my favorites are sage, thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, cajun seasoning when you want a little added heat.
  • Sauté all the ingredients for your pilaf together, stuff the previously roasted pumpkin or squash, and serve a yummy gravy or sauce for people to pour all over them if desired.

A yummy recipe to try:

Try our stuffed pumpkins with a sage, bulgur, fall filling and creamy mushroom sauce. It's always a big hit! Check out the recipe here, or watch the video below!

Make a Classic "Meat"Loaf!


The reason we all love holiday food is it's really all about comfort food, and in the comfort food arena, I always think of meatloaf! I don't know if it's the ketchup on top, or simply that it was a staple in families when I was growing up and I have fond memories of it, but whatever the case may be, it's hearty, it's delicious, and you can make it with.... wait for it... lentils! It's one of the easiest vegan entrées to make because basically everything goes into the food processor and then into the oven while you watch some Holiday movies on the couch.

The basics:

  • You'll need to cook some lentils until they're slightly overcooked and are breaking apart a little bit, but if you're in a pinch, you can use canned.
  • You'll need vegetables to add flavor: this can be as basic as finely diced carrots, celery, onion and garlic.
  • You'll need a binder: I love using oats and flour.
  • You'll need something Holiday-ish to add more body and flavor: Walnuts, pecans, chestnuts or a combo.
  • You'll need seasonings: Salt, pepper, garlic or garlic powder, nutritional yeast if desired, thyme, oregano and/or parsley, and some liquid smoke if you have and want to add an extra kick!
  • You'll need ketchup to coat your loaf of course! Use barbecue sauce if you want to give it a twist! Serve some extra for the table, or give it a holiday twist by topping it with gravy, a berry glaze, peppercorn sauce or cranberry sauce.

A yummy recipe to try:

Our delicious, chestnut and lentil holiday loaf, which has an out of this world texture. So good! Check out the recipe here or watch the video below!

Make Mushroom and Veggie Puff Pastry Pockets or Wellingtons

Photo and recipe by

Photo and recipe by

Vegan puff pastry is readily available these days at the grocery store, and with it come endless possibilities! You can use it to make seitan wellingtons, quick apple turnovers, delicious appetizers, and even a main entrée.

The basics:

  • You'll need some store-bought puff pastry
  • You'll need vegetables and/or other goodies for the filling: I love mushrooms, onions or shallots, roasted garlic, carrots, celery, peas, apples, smoky tempeh, BBQ jackfruit and even potatoes or sweet potatoes!
  • You'll need some kind of fat (oil or non-dairy butter) to start your veggie and filling sauté, flour or cornstarch, and vegetable broth to add to your veggie mixture in the pan, let it reduce and form a sauce right there with the filling.
  • You'll need some herbs or seasonings: salt, pepper, bay leaves (which you'll then remove), thyme, rosemary, tamari soy sauce and even some balsamic vinegar are some of my favorites.
  • Once you have a nice rich and meaty filling, make some puff pastry rectangles or pockets stuffed with the filling and bake them until golden. Everyone gets to cut into their own little golden pocket of vegan goodness! You can also turn it into a large wellington like the one shared in the recipe below by Delicious Everyday.

A yummy recipe to try:

This gorgeous mushroom wellington by Delicious Everyday which looks utterly scrumptious! Her site is amazing!

Photo and recipe by

Photo and recipe by


More ideas?

This just scratches the surface of some of the things you can make and serve as holiday entrées that step out of the classic vegan roast. Here are some more ideas:

  • Stuffed large portobello mushrooms with melted vegan cheese on top.
  • Phyllo triangles stuffed with BBQ jackfruit.
  • Mini vegan pot pies.
  • Vegan cheese fondue with roasted potatoes, bread, mushrooms, vegan sausages and baked apples for dipping.
  • Vegan chorizo sausages topped with caramelized onions and gravy.
  • Stuffed eggplants with Italian flavors, tomato and white beans, or with red wine smothered mushrooms and kale.
  • Vegan lasagna with a mushroom or lentil bolognese.
  • Wild mushroom cannelloni or manicotti, stuffed with stewed jackfruit, mushrooms, sage and red wine.
  • Lentil, mushroom and walnut meatballs served with a pan gravy or cranberry sauce.
  • Mushroom strogonoff over gnocchi or noodles or even as a stuffing for baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.
  • One of my favorite things on this planet: a big plate full of holiday side dishes, and forget about the whole main entrée situation.

As you can see there are so many options for delicious main dishes as vegans, even if you can't get your hands on the ready-made vegan roasts, or you wanted to get creative and skip the traditional roast this year.

What are you serving for your holiday meals this year? What is tradition at your house? Leave us some more ideas in the comments below!


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