« Market to Pantry #6: Cosmos International Market, Hartford, Connecticut | Main | Favorite side dish recipes from The Perfect Pantry »

Favorite turkey and vegetarian main dish recipes from The Perfect Pantry

Still working on your holiday menu? Same here. All this week, we'll be bringing you our favorite mains, sides and desserts, made with ingredients in The Perfect Pantry.

Slow roasted tomato mac and cheese

Half of our Thanksgiving guests are vegetarians. The other half travel from great distances, even from other countries, fully expecting to find a turkey on the table. And the third half are kids.

My cousin hates beets. Our son-in-law hates black olives, but not all olives. The granddaughters don't eat salad; the grandsons don't eat vegetables.

I still get flashbacks to the year my cranberry sauce unmolded and slid down the sink drain, and I haven't wanted to make it since. The pies are coming from a school fundraising event, so we're not quite sure what we're getting.

Menu planning? It's complicated.

Fortunately, lots of great turkey dishes and vegetarian entrees use ingredients we already have in the pantry. And there's no better place to start planning than with the entree.

Turkey cranberry meatballs

I'm not a huge fan of sliced turkey, so I always keep ground turkey in the freezer. Turkey meatballs appeal to the child in all of us, and turkey, cranberry and basil meatballs can be made ahead of time, frozen, and reheated just before dinner. We also love Greektown turkey meatballs served on large platters of grilled or roasted vegetables, with a bit of yogurt sauce. 

A few years ago, my husband Ted and I made a cranberry-studded turkey meatloaf with fig gravy for Thanksgiving. The gravy brought tart sweetness to mashed sweet potatoes, too. And, like all meatloaf, this one was perfect for sandwiches the next day.

Turkey mole chili

America isn't called a melting pot for nothing; we welcome people of any culinary heritage. In our house, we celebrate those cultures at our Thanksgiving gatherings. We've had traditional "American" feasts, but we've also created tapas, Chinese, and Italian Thanksgiving dinners.

The next time I plan a Mexican holiday meal, I'm definitely going to feature turkey mole chili as the centerpiece. It's another great make-ahead main dish. A big pot of rice and a crisp green salad will round out the meal. Or maybe I'll make Tex-Mex turkey lasagne or turkey and white bean chili. Both recipes can be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd.

Sweet potato stew

For vegetarians, I like to cook something substantial and beautiful, like this black bean and sweet potato stew or our favorite South End Deep Root Chili, served with a polenta dome or polenta and cheese loaf. The pantry always has canned and dry black beans, cornmeal and orzo.

Asparagus and mushroom paella

Paella always makes a dramatic presentation on the holiday table, and it's easy to make, especially if you have valencia or bomba rice in the cupboard. Try one of our two favorite vegetarian versions: mushroom and asparagus paella; or vegetable paella with garlic sauce.

Finally, slow-roasted tomatoes (top photo), a staple in the freezer, transform an ordinary mac and cheese into a holiday-worthy main attraction that even the grandchildren will love.

Next: our favorite side dishes (because, honestly, Thanksgiving is all about the sides).

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


You count like Click 'n' Clack.

Thanks for the compilation. I'm still smacking my lips over your polenta dome you served one day as a 'left over'.

My bucket list is overflowing with ideas after your post Lydia. Living in Canada Thanksgiving is over but Christmas is coming up where turkey is the star and we still need to offer something for everyone.

With all the nationalities you have on your menu where is the "Canuck"?

What a great assortment of ideas!

Nice selection of dishes. Hopefully everyone appreciates your efforts.

Marcia, I've learned so much from them (not much about cars, though)!

Bellini, one of my favorite Canadian Thanksgiving meals of all time was a pot-luck dinner, where each family was assigned something to bring. When the table was set, we noticed that every single dish on it was some kind of brown. It was a feast of stuffing and potato dishes!

Pauline, he eats anything and everything!

April, thanks. More to come all this week.

Chucky, not only do they appreciate, but some will contribute their own recipes, too. My family is wonderfully fun when we all get together.

A great assortment of ideas and I am thinking any or all of these would be great uses for "leftover" turkey.

The nice thing about Thanksgiving is that almost anything you put on the menu can become "traditional." One of the things I like most about the holiday is its diversity and inclusiveness.

Thanks for your post listing some recipes for the holidays. I also have a diverse group of people to cook for. Thanks for listing some tips.

Great looking dish! Make me hungry!

Glad everyone is finding some good menu ideas here. I'll have more during the week.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.