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Thanksgiving feast easy to prepare even with special requests

Vegan, vegetarian, gluten- and lactose-free diets can be accommodated deliciously


by: STAFF PHOTO: BARB RANDALL - Delicata Squash Stuffed with Mushrooms, Farro and Cranberries is a vegan recipe that is appealing and delicious for all to enjoy.

Thanksgiving Dinner is reputed to be the easiest of the holiday meals to prepare. You simply pop a turkey in the oven and let it roast for several hours. If you have guests bring appetizers, salads and side dishes, you can get off pretty easy and watch football until dinner is ready.

But what if gathered around your table will be vegetarians, vegans or folks needing to eat foods that are gluten- or lactose-free? There is no reason to panic; with a little planning you can serve a menu of delicious foods that will accommodate your guests’ dietary needs.

First, understand what the terms mean and what your guests need to avoid.

Vegetarians don’t eat meat. They will most likely eat everything you serve with the exception of the turkey.

Vegans eat a completely plant-based diet. That means no meat or meat products, so foods prepared with butter, milk, cheese and honey are out.

Those following gluten- or lactose-free diets are pretty adept at avoiding what they cannot eat. Gluten and milk products show up in the most unexpected foods; in fact, they are often ingredients in solutions with which pre-basted turkeys are injected. I would suggest roasting a natural turkey and basting it with citrus juice, broth or wine rather than butter. Ask your guests for guidance; they will appreciate the extra effort.

While you want to accommodate your guests’ dietary needs, you don’t have to forgo the family favorites. If it won’t be Thanksgiving without Aunt Beth’s green bean casserole loaded with cheese, make it and be sure you alert others to the ingredients. It’s been my experience that people love to share their favorite foods regardless of the ingredient list, so invite your guests to bring a dish to share. You will likely discover a delicious new vegan or gluten-free dish you wouldn’t have tried on your own.

The recipe for Delicata Squash Stuffed With Mushrooms, Farro, Pecans and Cranberries is shared by the Clos LaChance Winery in California. They offered recipes for a complete vegan Thanksgiving. Visit clos.com to learn more.

When I made this, I substituted brown rice for the farro and hazelnuts for the pecans. It was delicious.

The recipe for Triple Berry Cranberry Relish came from the folks at Superberries.com, who sell aronia berries, which they say have nearly twice the antioxidants of cranberries and four times the antioxidants of blueberries.

All three berries are included in the recipe, so it will be super healthy to eat. You can find aronia berries in the freezer section of area grocery stores.

Bon Appétit! Eat something wonderful!

Triple Berry Cranberry Relish

Makes 8 to 10 servings

2 cups fresh cranberries

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 cup aronia berries

1 cup orange juice

3/4 cup white sugar or sweetener of your choice

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir until the sugar dissolves and berries soften, about 15 minutes. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

From Superberries.com

Delicata Squash Stuffed With Mushrooms, Farro, Pecans and Dried Cranberries

Serves 2 as a main dish

or 4 as a side dish

2 delicata squash

1 large onion, chopped into medium dice

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

8 ounces white mushrooms

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

1 cup cooked farro or cooked brown rice

1/2 cup unsweetened dried cranberries

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup mixed fresh herbs, minced very fine (a good combination is 4 tablespoons parsley, 2 tablespoons sage and 2 tablespoons rosemary)

A little oil for brushing

Smoked paprika for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut the squash in two lengthwise and carefully scoop out the seeds to make four long boats. If the boats are too wobbly, take a very thin slice off the bottom so they sit flat. Brush with oil and roast in the oven until they are soft and just starting to char a little, about 30 to 40 minutes.

In a large frying pan, sauté the onion in grapeseed oil until soft and just starting to turn brown. While the onions are cooking, clean the mushrooms and chop them somewhat finely (into chickpea sized pieces). When the onions are ready, raise the heat and add the mushrooms all at once. Spread them out so they make as much contact with the hot pan as possible. You may need to add a little more oil to the pan at this point.

When the mushrooms start to take on some color, stir them around a bit until they are browned and cooked through. Turn off the heat and stir in the minced garlic. There should be enough heat left in the pan to start to cook the garlic. After about a minute, add the soy sauce, which should deglaze the pan, again with any residual heat. If the pan has cooled too much, bring the flame to low and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits.

When the pan is dry and all the soy sauce absorbed, add the farro (rice), nuts and dried cranberries and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning; it should be salty enough from the soy sauce but will need black pepper. Stir in half the fresh herbs and again taste, adding more herbs or pepper as needed.

Remove the delicata boats from the oven, leaving the oven on. Using a soup spoon, fill the boats with the farro mixture, pressing lightly to pack them full and mound the filling slightly. Return to the oven to heat everything through, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place on a serving platter, sprinkle with remaining herbs and optional smoked paprika and serve hot.

If there is stuffing left, serve it on the side in a bowl, or reheat the next day as a part of the leftover feast.

From Clos LaChance Winery’s Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

Barb Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281, ext. 100, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




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