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November 12, 2014

Creamy mushroom gravy {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Creamy mushroom gravy, #vegetarian and #glutenfree.

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.)

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November 9, 2014

40 fabulous recipes for Thanksgiving side dishes

40 fabulous Thanksgiving side dishes: some classic, some new.

Turkey. I can take it or leave it. For me, Thanksgiving is all about the side dishes, the must-haves (mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, stuffing) and the new recipes we grant an audition each year. Some will make the cut, and become permanent fixtures on the holiday table. Others will pass into family lore (remember the year she made that weird whatever-it-was?). The story of the jellied cranberry sauce I unmolded over the sink, only to watch the entire thing slide off the platter and down the drain, continues to amuse my family; that was my one and only experiment with molded cranberry sauce. Still, those of us who prepare the meal keep exploring new possibilities to bring diversity to the menu. If you are one of those explorers, this list of classic and not-yet-classic Thanksgiving side dishes is for you. I'd love to try all of them. There are so many possibilities, and I haven't even tackled cranberry sauce, salads or soups. For many more ideas, check out The Perfect Pantry's Thanksgiving recipes, an eclectic and fun recipe collection.

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November 5, 2014

Curried butternut squash and apple soup {vegan, gluten-free}

Curried butternut squash and apple soup, with Thai flavors. #glutenfree #vegan

In our house, Fall doesn't begin officially until the first pot of butternut squash soup hits the stove. Most often, I combine butternut (my favorite, though buttercup, acorn or Hubbard are wonderful substitutes) with apples from our local orchards, and bind them together with Indian curry spices like cumin, coriander and turmeric. Lately, I've been craving the raw heat of Thai red curry paste, and that sent this year's butternut squash soup in a new direction. (The recipe calls for a tablespoon of curry paste, which won't make the soup very spicy, but please use half that amount if you're worried about too much heat. You can always add more.) The thick and creamy soup is vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free, thanks to coconut milk. A little bit of brown sugar and a hit of fresh lime juice add a light, bright finish. If you're doing a soup swap this winter, put this soup on your make-ahead-and-freeze list.

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October 26, 2014

Egg and cheese breakfast casserole with butternut squash, bell pepper and leeks {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Egg and cheese breakfast casserole with butternut squash, bell pepper and leeks. #meatlessmonday #glutenfree #vegetarian

In my house, we're big on breakfast-for-dinner. We also love breakfast in the morning, at brunch, and for light lunches. Whether I'm feeding a crowd, or just want to cook once and make enough for several breakfast portions during the week, I love egg and cheese casseroles. Mix in any vegetables you have on hand (use up leftover steamed or roasted vegetables, if you have those). Stir in some beans, or shrimp, or roast chicken. Play with color. For this casserole, I started with half of a butternut squash left from a soup-making day. Using the large-holed side of a box grater, I (carefully!) shredded the squash so it would cook quickly and evenly. Red bell pepper added sweetness and color, and the one leek (also left from soup-making) contributed its own sweet onion flavor. In my egg casseroles, I often prefer a store-bought low-fat Italian cheese blend; you can swap in shredded mozzarella and provolone mixed with a bit of parmesan cheese. Served with crusty bread and a simple green salad, this vegetarian dish would be perfect for Meatless Monday.

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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