Uh-oh. You just found out a couple of vegetarians are coming for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving, the most turkey-centric holiday of the year. Do not be afraid; you really can provide your non-meat-eating guests with the same great holiday experience as the carnivores. After all, Thanksgiving is about the side dishes: mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce. And all of those are basically meatless, except the gravy. Here's a great vegetarian alternative, one I always serve in addition to traditional turkey gravy. A mix of wild mushrooms gives this gravy the "meaty" richness of turkey drippings; cream and a cornstarch slurry add the requisite viscosity to slither over mounds of mashed potatoes and stuffing. Make this a few days ahead, and store in the refrigerator in a tightly-closed container. Reheat before serving, and season as needed with salt and pepper. (For more vegetarian-friendly holiday recipes, including main dishes that everyone will enjoy, check out my e-cookbook, Meatless Holidays.)
Creamy mushroom gravy
From the pantry, you'll need: extra virgin olive oil, dried mushrooms, onion, thyme, dry red wine, cornstarch.
Makes 1-1/2 cups.
1/2 cup dried mushrooms (cepes or porcini are easiest to find in the grocery store)
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
16 oz mixed fresh chopped mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, white button mushrooms)
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup half & half or cream
Soak the dried mushrooms in 2 cups of boiling water for 30 minutes.
In a frying pan, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat. Sauté the onion for 2 minutes, until translucent. Add the fresh mushrooms, and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the thyme and red wine, and let the mixture simmer.
Strain the liquid from the dried mushrooms, and add the liquid only to the pan (discard the mushrooms, or save for another use). Let the mixture simmer for 3-4 minutes.
Pour the cornstarch mixture into the simmering sauce, and stir until it thickens slightly. Then, add the half & half. Simmer, stirring frequently for a minute or two until all of the flavors combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve warm, or let cool and refrigerate in an air-tight container for a few days.
More fabulous mushroom side dishes:
Farro with mushrooms, broccoli, almonds and feta, from The Perfect Pantry
Vegan barley and lentil pilaf with mushrooms, from The Perfect Pantry
Slow cooker kasha with caramelized onions and mushrooms, from The Perfect Pantry
Quinoa side dish with mushrooms, green onions, and parmesan, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Balsamic sautéed mushrooms, from Recipe Girl
Creamy green beans and mushrooms, from Simply Recipes
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