TURKEY PARDON: A MEAT-FREE THANKSGIVING MENU (PART I)

THIS IS PART I OF A MENU I DEVELOPED FOR A THANKSGIVING FREE OF DEATH-CAMP TURKEY, EGGS, CREAM, BUTTER, ETC. IN TERMS OF COST, I SPENT ABOUT $45-50, AND THIS MEAL CAN FEED UP TO 8 PEOPLE. ALSO,  EVERYTHING CAN BE PREPARED AHEAD, AND IS GREAT LEFTOVER.

PART II IS HERE. -JRS

Ambrosia.

I. GARLIC OIL, SHALLOT OIL

THIS STUFF IS MAGICAL. IT KEEPS FOR A LONG TIME AND YOU CAN ADD A LITTLE BIT TO ANYTHING TO BOOST THE FLAVOUR BY A MILE.

Preheat oven to 300°. Peel the cloves from one head of garlic and put in a small baking dish with high sides. Add a bunch of neutral oil (vegetable, canola), a few cups. Cover with tin foil. Let cook in the oven for one hour. When done, drain the oil through a strainer, let cool, and store in the fridge.

For the shallots: Same as above, but with a bunch of peeled shallots.

Bean salad.

II. MIXED BEAN SALAD WITH ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND ROCKET PESTO

INGREDIENTS

– 3 cans beans (mixed beans, white beans, whatever)
– 2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets
– ½ package rocket (arugula)
– ½ cup walnuts (whole, loosely packed)
– ½ cup olive oil
– 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
– Salt and pepper, to taste

PREP: ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

Preheat oven to 425°. Put cauliflower florets in a big bowl and add toss with some vegetable oil (just enough to coat). Place on a baking pan in a single layer, season with a sprinkle of salt, and roast for about 20 to 25 minutes, turning every 10 or so minutes, until golden brown. Let cool.

PREP: PESTO

Add the arugula, walnuts, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a good pinch of salt and some pepper to a blender. Blend into a rough paste. Taste for seasoning (cf. my post on how to season); add more acid, salt or pepper, if necessary.

FINISH

Drain the beans and rinse well in a colander. Pour into a large bowl, season with some salt, and then the pesto and roasted cauliflower. Toss gently.

A classic French dish, for a reason.

III. FRENCH LENTILS

LENTILS DE PUY ARE A GREEN LENTIL OF FRENCH ORIGIN; IF YOU CAN’T FIND THEM CHEAPLY, JUST USE REGULAR GREEN LENTILS. ALSO, GRATE YOUR VEGETABLES TO SAVE TIME IF YOU LIKE.

INGREDIENTS

– 1 lb of lentils de Puy
– 2 carrots, finely diced (or grated)
– 1 medium onion, finely dice (or grated)
– 3 cloves garlic, chopped (or more if you wish)
– White wine vinegar (could also use balsamic)
– Bay leaves, if you have

Bring the lentils to a boil in a lot of seasoned water (generally about 1 tbsp per 3.5 liters) and a bay leaf or two, lower heat and simmer until tender, 12-15 minutes. Start testing them after 10 minutes and drain them when they’re done to your liking.

Add some oil to a pan and sweat the carrot, onion, and garlic over medium heat until onions are translucent, maybe 3 minutes. Add the drained lentils and stir through. Add a tbsp or so of vinegar. Stir and give it a taste; if it tastes bland, it needs more seasoning. Add additional salt, vinegar, or oil, a little bit at a time, until you’re happy with it.

Roasted vegetables: the glory of fall.

IV. ROASTED CARROTS WITH MAPLE AND WHITE WINE VINEGAR GLAZE

IF YOU DON’T HAVE MAPLE SYRUP, YOU COULD USE SOME OTHER SWEETENER—OR JUST SKIP THE GLAZE ALTOGETHER; THEY’RE STILL GREAT WITHOUT IT.

INGREDIENTS

– 2 lbs carrots
– Vegetable oil
– Maple sizzurp
– White wine vinegar
– Rosemary, thyme (if you have)
– Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425°.

Prepare the maple glaze by mixing 2 parts maple syrup and 1 part white wine vinegar in a bowl. (I used 2 tbsp maple, 1 tbsp vinegar; you may want to use more.)

Cut carrots lengthwise, put in a big bowl. Toss with enough oil to cover and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven, tossing and turning the carrots occasionally until they are browned a little and tender, 25-30 minutes. Check them regularly and reduce the heat in the oven if it seems to hot.

I’m all about that glaze.

When the carrots are pretty much done, remove the tray from the oven, pour over the maple glaze, and toss to coat. Add some fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary) if you are using—note that a little rosemary goes a long way, so use less of that than the thyme.

Put back in the oven and roast for a few more minutes. Done.

Potatoes are a glorious thing.

V. MASHED POTATOES WITH SAUTEED SPINACH, ONIONS, GARLIC OIL, AND BALSAMIC

YOU CAN LEAVE OUT THE SPINACH AND ONIONS TO SAVE TIME, AND YOU CAN ALSO SKIP THE GARLIC OIL, ADDING SOME FRESH GARLIC AND OLIVE OIL INSTEAD. THIS METHOD MAKES THEM EXTRA-SPECIAL, HOWEVER.

INGREDIENTS

– 5 lbs white potatoes (or any other potato suitable for mashing)
– Big bunch whole spinach, diced (with stems, if you can find)
– 1 medium onion, diced
– Garlic oil (see recipe above)
– Balsamic vinegar
– Salt and pepper, to taste

Cut up the potatoes (doesn’t matter how big or small, but bigger takes longer to cook). Put in a big pot with lots of water and season well with salt, at least 1 tbsp. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are soft—start testing with a knife after 15 minutes or so.

Drain the potatoes and let cool. Taste one of them; if you’ve used enough salt, it should taste good, as is. If not, no worries: You can adjust when seasoning the final product.

Sautee the spinach in oil over medium-high heat; you want to brown it a little bit. When fully cooked (maybe 3 to 5 minutes), season with a light pinch of salt and set aside. Repeat the process for the onions.

My Kung Fu name is “Potato Fist”.

Mash the potatoes (a masher comes in really handy here, or some pent-up aggression), add the spinach and onion, about ½ cup of the garlic oil, a big pinch of freshly ground pepper and a good tablespoon of balsamic. Stir everything through, and taste. Add more salt, vinegar, or oil, a little bit at a time, until it’s to your liking.

HERE IS PART TWO: GOOD OL’ AMERICAN APPLE PIE; SQUASH SOUP WITH SHALLOT OIL; COLESLAW WITH CARAWAY SEED.

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