As a vegan food blogger, Thanksgiving dinner is like this sort of daunting yet really exciting culinary challenge that comes around every Fall. It’s like I have this compulsion to do better than I did last year, to veganize more dishes, and to show everyone that a vegan Thanksgiving is as good as (or better than!) any “normal” Thanksgiving.
I became vegetarian the summer after 6th grade, I was 12 years old. It’s crazy to think about this now, but back then I was crazy about meat. Even so, I actually found it quite easy abstain from meat and I rarely felt any real cravings for the stuff either. But then Thanksgiving came around. Without a doubt that first Thanksgiving was hard – I mean I lived for my Mom’s turkey dinners. I certainly hadn’t considered that when I’d made the decision to be vegetarian.
I remember coming across the Tofurky Holiday Roast on the internet way back then. My family thought is was hilarious! Tofurky?!?
In our small city, trying to find something like the Tofurky Roast was pretty much impossible. For years it felt like some kind of vegan legend.
So, when I finally discovered Turtle Island’s Holiday Tofurky Roast hiding in the very top corner of my supermarket’s natural freezer section, I was ecstatic! It was like all my vegan dreams came true!
And after all that time, it was everything I’d hoped for. I’ll happily admit it, I love the Tofurky roast! I look forward to every holiday where it seems acceptable to eat one. I love it so much I even made a tofurky tutorial back when I first started this blog!
So now here’s my problem: The store that I always bought mine from has stopped carrying them and I’ve still haven’t found anywhere else that stocks them.
What am I supposed to slather mushroom gravy all over this year!?!
Well, that’s the dilemma that inspired this recipe for The Ultimate Vegan Thanksgiving Loaf. Because apparently not every vegan can hunt down a Tofurky this time of year. So this year I’m presenting you with a delicious alternative main dish for you to smother in mushroom gravy!
So why do I think this recipe deserves the title “The Ultimate Vegan Thanksgiving Loaf“? SO MANY REASONS.
Well, there’s that perfect savoury-sweet contrast of the tart-but-sweet cranberry glaze and the hearty loaf.
And it fulfills every requirement of a holiday dinner main dish AND MORE! 1) Pairs well with gravy? Check. 2) Pairs well with cranberry sauce? Check. 3) Pairs well with gravy and cranberry sauce when they inevitably mix together on your plate? Check. 4) Delicious leftovers that are even more amazing as a sandwich? Check and Check!
Plus, it’s PACKED with nutrient rich ingredients:
- fibre rich brown rice
- high protein green lentils
- tons of vegetables: kale, mushrooms, carrots, celery, onion and garlic.
- satiating oat flour
- omega-3 rich flax seed, walnuts, and olive oil
- fortified nutritional yeast (great source of vitamins B’s for vegans!)
- and studded with dried cranberries
And lastly, if you like to entertain during the holidays this loaf is going to be your saving grace. With so many different food sensitivities, allergies, and lifestyle choices to consider, trying to feed everyone is hard! Luckily this loaf is vegan, gluten free, soy free, and can easily be nut free by omitting the walnuts.
See, it is The Ultimate Vegan Thanksgiving Loaf!
Notes on the recipe:
If you are not the kind of person to put cranberry sauce on their entire plate of Thanksgiving dinner or if you don’t like that sweet-savoury thing (whaat?!) You could leave out either the glaze or the dried cranberries. But the loaf is soo much prettier with both 😀
Edited to add (11/23/16): If the mixture doesn’t hold together easily, blend about ⅓ of the mixture using a food processor or immersion blender and recombine. For best texture and appearance do not blend 100% the mixture.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium-large carrot, grated
- 1 rib celery, thinly sliced
- 1½ cups kale, shredded and tightly packed
- 1½ cups mushrooms, thinly sliced
- ¼ tsp thyme
- ¼ tsp oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- black pepper to taste
- 1 cup overcooked green lentils
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- ⅓ cup oat flour (or ground oats)
- 3 tbsp ground flax seed
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ½ cup ground walnuts
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup cranberry sauce, canned or homemade (recipe below)
- Cook your brown rice and lentils. The whole cooking process will go by much faster if you happen to have leftovers of either ingredient on hand, but cooking them fresh is perfectly fine too.
- Prep and chop all of your ingredients. Try to keep everything relatively small, your loaf will hold together better that way.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large frying pan and heat over medium-high. Once your frying pan is heated, add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and kale. Sauté until the onion starts to become translucent (about 2 minutes.)
- Add the mushrooms, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper and continue sautéing until everything is just tender.
- In a large bowl, combine the sautéed vegetables, brown rice, lentils, oat flour, ground flax seeds, nutritional yeast, walnuts, and cranberries.
- Mix everything VERY thoroughly. It's best to mix everything quite roughly so that you're mashing some of the ingredients together. This is really important for proper binding in this recipe.
- Firmly press the mixture into a parchment paper lined loaf pan or 9x9 cake pan.
- Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, pour the glaze over the loaf and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes to fully set.
- In a high speed blender, blend cranberry sauce until completely smooth.
- 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- Rinse cranberries.
- In a saucepan combine the cranberries, sugar, and water, and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and simmer for 5 minutes (until the skins have broken.) Refrigerate before serving. The sauce will thicken up as it cools.