Recipes: A Vegetarian Feast

Vegetables take center stage with these holiday feast ideas

Whether you’re cooking for a crowd or simply want to try something new, these recipes are sure to please.

Menu ideas

Appetizers: pita wedges with hummus, pumpkin dip or a roasted red pepper spread, crudités.

Starters: A vegetable-based soup or mixed greens topped with balsamic vinegar and shredded parmesan cheese.

Main courses: vegetarian shepherd’s pie, stuffed vegetables, ratatouille, pot pie or chilli. If meat is the star of the show — like a roast, turkey or ham — try a vegetarian loaf made of grains or vegetables.

If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even create a Vegan Tofu Turkey or Tofu Thanksgiving Recipe .

Sides: roasted seasonal vegetables, mashed potatoes, nut- or mushroom-based gravy and stuffing made on the stove top.

Dessert: apple-cranberry crisp or pumpkin pie (make sure to use vegetable-based shortening instead of lard).

Need a little more help? has some sample menus for different party sizes.

Recipe ideas

Looking for a little inspiration? Here are some basic meatless main courses to get you started,

Mediterranean Grilled Vegetable Soup

2 small zucchini (1/2 lb. total), trimmed and quartered lengthwise
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and quartered lengthwise
3 large vine-ripened tomatoes (1 1/4 lbs.), cored and chopped
1 red onion, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and quartered lengthwise
1 tsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup shredded basil leaves
1 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Prepare a grill or preheat the broiler. Grill or broil bell peppers, skin-side toward the flame, until the skin is blackened, 5 to 10 minutes. Place in a paper bag and set aside for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, brush zucchini and onion slices with oil and grill or broil until well browned and tender, about 5 minutes. Chop coarsely and set aside.

Peel the peppers. Coarsely chop the yellow pepper and set aside with the reserved zucchini and onions. Place the red peppers in a food processor or blender along with tomatoes, garlic and oregano; puree until smooth.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1 cup water, basil, vinegar and the reserved chopped vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes. (The soup can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

(Submitted by reader JSC788)

Polpette di Fungi (mushroom meatballs)


2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
50g freshly grated Parmesan
50g Panko breadcrumbs, plus extra for rolling
1/4 cup chopped plain parsley
1/2 cup finely diced fresh mushrooms (crimini, button, whatever you like)
Pinch sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil for frying
One jar (about 700mls) of your favourite pasta sauce


1. Beat the eggs and the baking soda with a whisk.

2. Slowly add the cheese, the breadcrumbs, the parsley and mushrooms to the egg mix. Season with sea salt and pepper and fold gently until all ingredients are combined.

3. Using a teaspoon form small balls of the mixture, then roll them in the extra Panko crumbs.

4. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the egg balls 2-3 at a time and fry over medium heat until golden brown all round. You will need to turn them to make sure they brown evenly.

5. Drain on a paper towel and continue until all balls are fried up.

6. Heat your pasta sauce over medium heat and then add the balls when the sauce is bubbling. Turn the heat down to low and partially cover the saucepan. Continue to heat for about 7 minutes – the balls will be warm through and will have absorbed some of the sauce.

7. Serve topped with fresh basil.

Makes 10

Mardi Michels is a well-known food blogger who resides in Toronto, Ontario. In “real life,” Mardi is a full-time elementary school French teacher. She also moonlights as a part-time PhD student, and is halfway through the Food & Media certificate at George Brown College, in Toronto. You can find her travels and recipes documented on her blog,


Eggplant Mediterranean

1 tsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 28 oz. can of diced no-salt-added plum tomatoes, drained
non-stick cooking spray
3 cups eggplant, cut into cubes
1 15 oz. can of white kidney (cannellini) beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
12 oz. dried penne pasta
1/2 cup vegetable
4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Add olive oil to a large sauce pan and heat over medium temperature. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan and sauté until the garlic is softened, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes to the pan, heat to a simmer, cover pan and reduce heat to low. Coat a large non-stick skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium temperature. Add the eggplant and sauté, stirring often, until the eggplant is lightly browned, about 4 to 6 minutes. Lightly spray the eggplant with more cooking spray as necessary to prevent sticking.

Stir the tomato mixture into the eggplant and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and simmer over low temperature for about 8 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender. Add the beans and simmer 5 minutes more. Add the herbs, salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the penne according to package directions. When the penne is cooked, drain it well and add to the sauce mixture. Toss to coat, adding broth as necessary to moisten. Divide between 6 plates and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Serve hot. Makes 6 servings.

(Submitted by reader JSC788.)

Note: a special thanks to our readers and Facebook followers for suggesting ideas! If you’ve got a favourite idea to share, post it in the comments below!

More tips:

– Include plant-based proteins. Vegetarian cooking requires some balance to make sure that nutritional needs are met — especially for protein. Make sure your menu includes some good protein sources. You can even think beyond the main course: for instance, spiced or sugared nuts make a great appetizer, and seeds, nuts and legumes can easily upgrade a salad or vegetable dish.

– Dodge duplication. You don’t have to serve a meatless version of every dish — it’s okay to offer plenty of choice to all of your guests. For instance, just because you’re serving turkey doesn’t mean you have to serve an imitation turkey product. Try a bean or lentil-based main course instead.

– Try an adaptable recipe. Will that be meat or meatless? Many recipes like stuffed pasta shells or peppers, cabbage rolls and pot pies let you go either way. Simply add meat to some portions of the recipe and an meat alternative — like lentils, tofu or vegetarian “hamburger” and vegetable broth instead of chicken — to others. (Just be sure to mark which is which!)

For instance, this Stuffed Acorn Squash with Sausage and Rice may have “sausage” in the title, but you can use red lentils to make a meatless dish

– Consider going meatless altogether. Make no mistake, there is plenty of fare for meat eaters during the holiday season. However, dieticians say it’s good for use to get some of our protein from plant-based sources. A satisfying dish like vegetarian chilli, a creamy casserole or vegetable lasagne won’t leave guests wanting.

– Test ahead of time. We all know the risks of trying a new recipe when guest are coming to dinner. While there are many good meat substitute products on the market, you’ll want to do a test run before serving them to company.



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