The Vedic Chef: Vegan Ayurvedic Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving dinner can be stacked with challenges for vegans and vegetarians. Turkey is obviously off the menu. And many side dishes include animal- or dairy-based ingredients.

Although you might be tempted to succumb to family pressure or politeness to have a slice of bird or just a few bites of heavy-cream-laden mashed potatoes, it’s not worth it if you’re going to feel bad physically or emotionally afterward.

Instead, stick to your diet with this menu, which brings a vegan or vegetarian twist to traditional Thanksgiving side dishes and introduces an innovative main dish.

Nut Loaf and Sweet Potato Tower with Tarragon Gravy

Vata, Pitta, Occasionally Kapha

Nut Loaf and Sweet Potato Tower with Tarragon Gravy

This is nut loaf is an enticing main course ideal for festive occasions. It’s rich-tasting and has an eye-catching presentation, and the crunchy texture offers a nice contrast to the smooth sweet potato. The often-overlooked herb tarragon brings an unexpected flavor to the gravy.

Ingredients for the nut loaf:

  • 2 cups pecans, whole
  • 2 cups almonds, whole
  • 2 cups sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white basmati rice
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped leeks
  • 1 cup finely grated zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped thyme leaf
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley or cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sage leaf
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Vata seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons organic ketchup or tomato puree
  • 4 teaspoons organic mustard sauce
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon rock salt or Celtic salt  

Ingredients for the sweet potato filling:

  • 2 to 3 large orange sweet potatoes, baked whole in the skin
  • 2 tablespoons very finely minced celery
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon leaf
  • 2 tablespoons almond or cashew cream

Ingredients for the leek and sundried tomato topping:

  • 1 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped leeks
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon agave or maple syrup
  • 1/3 teaspoon black pepper
  • Sea salt

Directions:

Spread out the nuts and seeds on a baking tray, and bake for 7 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove from oven. Sprinkle with Bragg Liquid Aminos. 

Gently sauté the ginger and leeks in 2 tablespoons oil. Add the Vata seasoning and grated zucchini after 4 minutes and continue to sauté for another 2 minutes.

Grind the nuts and seeds to a coarse texture in an electric grinder or mixer.

In a large bowl, mix the cooked leek mixture, rice, nuts, fresh herbs, tomato puree, mustard, salt and pepper, lemon juice, and agave syrup into a thick paste. 

Press and spread this mixture onto a flat surface dusted with ground fennel seed and sesame seeds until the mixture is about 1-inch thickness. Take a circular cookie cutter and cut out rounds about 3 inches in diameter. Turn them to coat with the seed mixture.

Place the rounds on a lightly oiled baking tray and sprinkle them with a little oil. Place in the middle shelf of the oven and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 to 45 minutes. They should be nicely browned and crunchy on the surface.

While they are baking, remove the skins from the sweet potato and discard. Place the potatoes in a bowl and add the almond cream, celery, chopped tarragon, 2 tablespoons parsley, salt and pepper, a little olive oil, and lemon juice, and mash until smooth and creamy. Keep warm.

To construct the tower, place one round of the nut loaf on your serving plate, then neatly spread a good spoonful of the sweet potato mixture on top of each round. Neatly smooth the sides and then place a second round of nut loaf on top.

To make the leek and tomato topping, first steam the sundried tomatoes in a small pan for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile sautée the leeks in sunflower oil and cook on low heat for 7 minutes. Then add the tomatoes, fresh herbs, and agave. Stir well. Place half of this mixture in a blender with some almond cream cheese and 1/3 cup of water, and blend. Add back into the pan, heat gently, and stir well.  Finish by placing a spoonful of sundried tomato and leek mix on top of each tower.

Then top each tower with tarragon gravy (recipe below).

Serves 6

Tarragon Gravy Sauce

Vata, Kapha

A delicious vegetable-based gravy with rich flavor that will complement a wide variety of pies, nut loaves, or tofu dishes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons leek , finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons roasted ground almonds
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons white mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 2 dates, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1/3 cup red lentils, soaked for 1 hour 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons tomato puree (optional)
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons basil herb
  • 1/2 small zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons wheat-free flour or chick pea flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons non-dairy cream such as almond or cashew cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large pan and pop the mustard seeds. Use a lid or spatter cover to avoid the seeds popping out of the pan. Sauté the leeks until softened, add the basil, cumin, and coriander; stir and add the rest of the ingredients except flour and fresh herbs and simmer with a lid until well cooked. (About 30 minutes.)

Stir in the flour with a whisk cooking for 5 minutes, then blend the entire sauce in a blender. Add the non-dairy cream and fresh herbs and blend again. Return to the pan and heat but do not boil. Add extra stock if it is too thick and whisk well to attain a gravy sauce consistency.

Serve with pasties or burgers or nut loaf.

Cranberry Sauce

Vatta, Pitta, Kapha  

Homemade cranberry sauce

It’s easy to see how cranberry became the number one chutney choice for Thanksgiving. Its deep burgundy color, sour, sweet and spiced flavor, tempered with a little apple and lemon juice makes it a delicious accent to the Thanksgiving plate.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can organic cranberries, whole or 12 ounces of fresh berries or frozen berries 
  • 1 tablespoon fine chopped leek
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger root
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1 teaspoon Vata seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons agave nectar
  • 2-3 cups vegetable stock 
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro or fresh mint leaves, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or sunflower oil

Directions:

Heat a small saucepan with olive oil and add the ginger and leek; sauté for 3 minutes and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir and gently simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Keep warm until serving time.

Mint Sauce

Homemade mint sauce

Pitta, Kapha

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
  • Black pepper to taste                                                           

Directions:

Chop the mint leaves finely and mix them with all other ingredients with a whisk or blend very briefly in a magic bullet or blender.                                    

Sage and Leek Sourdough Stuffing           

Vata, Pitta

Sage and Leek Sourdough Stuffing

Stuffing is one of those age-old side dishes that makes us keep coming back for more. Utilizing the healing herb sage, iron-rich leek, and ground almonds, this recipe is soft, springy, and crunchy around the edges.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower or coconut oil
  • 2 cups sourdough breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves (or 1Tbsp dried sage)
  • 3 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 5 tablespoons finely chopped leek)
  • Dash of herb salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated apple
  • 2-3 tablespoons thin cashew cream                                

Directions:

Sauté the leek and almonds in the oil. Add to the other ingredients, mix well, and bake in a small baking dish or stuffed inside an acorn squash. Bake at 375 degrees F until golden brown or until the squash is tender. 

Saffron Roast Potatoes

Vata, Pitta

Saffron Roast Potatoes

The trick to getting that beloved crisp texture for roasted potatoes is by first parboiling the cut potatoes, draining the water well and then adding them gently to a baking pan with hot oil and immediately place back in the hot oven.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds red or golden potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 tablespoons coconut or sunflower oil for baking
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • Several stalks of fresh rosemary or 3 tablespoons of dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

Boil a large pan of water and place all the potatoes in the pan, sprinkle with a little salt and half the saffron. Boil the potatoes for about 6 to 9 minutes so that they are partly cooked.

Remove and drain. Shake the pan vigorously with the lid on to soften the outer surfaces. Meanwhile heat the oven to 425F.

Pour the oil and the rest of the saffron onto a metal baking tray and heat it for a few minutes then place the potatoes on the tray. Brush or baste the potatoes with the oil to cover all surfaces.

Bake for 45 minutes on the top shelf of your oven.

French Beans with Fennel and Slivered Fried Almonds

Vata, Pitta, Kapha

A perfect combination in color, texture, and taste, this green bean side dish is highly nutritious and the fried almonds make it a savory Thanksgiving treat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of green beans tops and tails removed, cut into 1-2 inch lengths
  • 1 large fennel bulb cut into small chunks or into slices
  • 1 cup of slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons Braggs Liquid Aminos
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

Place the fennel in a steamer on a large pan over medium heat and cover with a lid. After 7 minutes, add the green beans and cover again.

Steam until just tender—do not overcook. Turn off the heat. While the vegetables are steaming, heat a medium sauté pan, add sesame oil and the almonds and sauté gently. Add salt and black pepper, Braggs and continue to stir and heat until the almonds become just golden brown in color.

Toss the almonds with the beans and fennel, sprinkle with some lemon juice, and salt.

Share This Article
About the Author
Chef Johnny Brannigan
Chef Johnny Brannigan is an international Ayurvedic vegetarian and vegan chef with a deep knowledge base in Vedic wisdom and holistic medicine, and a lifelong love of food and cooking. Trained in Ayurveda and as a teacher of meditation by the Maharishi in Switzerland and Thailand, he has cooked and taught in over 33 countries, writing new recipes along the way. He co-founded The Organic Snack Company in 1998 in the U.K. and then travelled to the United States, where he cooked at The Raj, the top Ayurvedic spa in the country, and wrote The Global Vegetarian , his first cookbook. He’s also the chef/co-author of the seven-award-winning cookbook,...Read more