Thanksgiving has never been my favorite holiday. Call me a traitor, call me unpatriotic, call me a dirty rotten Commie, I don’t care. I never really liked the taste of turkey (and I have an irrational fear of the actual animal), so I’ve just never understood the point of a holiday devoted solely to eating it. This is an unpopular opinion, but someone’s gotta have it.
When I was younger, I used to eat as little Thanksgiving turkey as I could get away with. Even when I was given the smallest piece of turkey, I still employed sophisticated strategies to avoid eating it (i.e. pushing the pieces around my plate). Since I never really liked turkey, I’m not a huge fan of Tofurkey either.
The highlight of Thanksgiving, for me, has always been the sides. From infancy, I adored stuffing and mashed potatoes. Even though I can eat solid foods with ease now, I still choose not to. This year, I’ll also be celebrating Thanks-giv-ukkah (that’s Thanksgiving and Hanukkah combined), so I decided to make one my favorite Hanukkah sides, potato latkes, with a sweet twist. I got a little carb crazy with these sides, but if you’re not eating carbs on Thanksgiving, then what exactly are you doing with your life?
Super Stuffed Stuffing
Although I grew up on box recipe stuffing (and loved every bite of it), most box mixes have secret non-vegan ingredients like dried chicken stock powder or something else nasty. Thus, I made vegan stuffing from scratch, even taking the time to let my bread get stale overnight. It’s important to use stale (or toasted) bread when you make stuffing because drier bread soaks up the vegetable broth better.
I based my stuffing off of this Cran-Chestnut Pumpkin Sausage stuffing, but used savory cooked tofu instead of sausage and pumpkin pie spice instead of poultry spice. Even with these modifications, the results were pretty darn delicious.
Homemade stuffing takes commitment, endurance, and the willingness to buy a bunch of ingredients you will probably never need again.
Plus, if you make stuffing from scratch you have the same hearty side dish without all the unsavory additives.
Once it’s done, you have a giant pan of carby goodness to share with family…or eat all by yourself
Secret Ingredient Mashed Potatoes
Okay, so the secret ingredient is this recipe isn’t such a secret to vegans— it’s hummus. Unlike the stuffing, this recipe was ridiculously simple and easily customizable.
I chose a traditional hummus for my recipe but you could choose any type of hummus and create a revolutionary flavored mashed potatoes dish. Think about the possibilities. (I know I’m thinking about pesto hummus mashed potatoes…) I love this recipe because with such a simple and healthy switch, the mashed potato game has changed forever.
Besides hummus, the only thing you need to add to the potatoes are olive oil, salt, pepper, and any other seasoning you want. If you choose a flavored hummus, you may not even need anything else! After making that stuffing, the simplest mash potatoes recipe on planet Earth will be the yummiest reward!
Sweet Potato Latkes
Latkes remind me of my grandma. She’s a latke making extraordinaire, and you don’t mess with her when she’s slaving over a hot frying pan. Although she has her trademark latke recipe, I had to create my own vegan version with my favorite potato of all time— the sweet potato.
Making potato latkes vegan simply requires replacing the egg in the recipe with a flax egg. Unfortunately, not every part of the process is that easy. Grating the sweet potatoes takes a lot of elbow grease, which is probably what actually kept those candles going for those seven extra days. (That’s a little biblical joke. Read the full version here.)
I love this recipe because besides the sweet potato, there are few other ingredients. Although it may take a while to grate the potatoes, everything else requires little to no assembly.
1 pound sweet potatoes, grated (about 2- 2 1/2 sweet potatoes)
1 flax egg
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp flour (I used gluten free)
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Combine all the ingredients into a single bowl and stir together. After you have the potato latke mix, you can make it two ways.
The traditional way is to fry them in vegetable oil, but if you want a healthier option you can bake them in the oven. All you have to do is preheat the oven to 350°F and bake them on one side for fifteen minutes and then flip them to the other side for ten minutes.
The time may be more or less depending on how quickly your oven cooks, so just keep an eye on them. Your latkes are not going to turn out pretty whether you fry or bake them, but both ways strike a perfect balance between savory and sweet.
Once you make all your separate sides, the best part is putting them all together on one plate.
Sure, you may be eating nothing but carbs, but isn’t that the true meaning of Thanksgiving?