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A Vegan Twist for Thanksgiving Dressing

Vegan Cornbread

When I told my husband I was developing a vegan Thanksgiving recipe for this month’s blog, he said, “why”? Fair question: since we have a Thanksgiving turkey each year, and we rarely eat vegan food. I had to think for a minute before I could explain the significance of my recipe selection.

Since I graduated from culinary school, the number of people following special diets has grown exponentially (as have the number of special diets themselves. I can’t even keep up with some of the latest ones. But as a chef, this affects me in many ways.

I always feel I have to ask before we entertain if I need to be aware of any dietary restrictions because the answer now is almost always yes. And when I see nutrition clients, their goals are usually weight loss or how to follow a special diet, so I have to stay on top of everything to be relevant for the multitude of questions I receive related to special diets.

I haven’t created an entirely vegan Thanksgiving menu here. Still, I wanted to share a delicious recipe for a classic Thanksgiving dish to show how great it can taste without the typical addition of meat.

Vegan Merguez Sausage
Typically made with lamb, this zesty sausage uses the traditional seasoning of the Moroccan original but replaces the lamb with soy substitute.
Makes 1 pound of uncooked “sausage.”

1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 pound Melissa’s Soy Ground
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Melissa’s chopped garlic
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 t s smoked salt
pinch cinnamon (ground)
pinch black pepper

In a small sauté pan, measure the fennel, cumin, and coriander seeds.

Toast the seeds over medium-high heat, stirring regularly until fragrant and just barely starting to brown. Set aside to cool.

Transfer cooled seeds to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Grind seeds until powdered.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.

Recipe may be used to replace raw lamb merguez sausage in your favorite recipe or shaped into sausages or patties before grilling or frying. Keeps for 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 4 months.


Vegan Merguez Cornbread Dressing with Steamed Chestnuts and Dried Cranberries

Yield: approximately ten cups
Cornbread Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow or white onion
½ cup finely chopped celery
1 pound Vegan Merguez Sausage
1 1/2 cups chopped shiitake mushrooms (1/2-inch dice)
5 cups seasoned cornbread stuffing mix (pepperidge farm or Mrs. Cubbison’s)
1 (6.5 ounce) package Melissa's peeled and steamed chestnuts
½ cup Melissa’s dried cranberries, chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a wok or large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat.

Sautee Onion

Sauté the onion and celery until tender but not browned.

Adding sausage to pan

Add the sausage, and sauté with the vegetables for about 5 minutes longer, stirring regularly. If it starts to stick, add the additional oil.

Add mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.

Mixing in pan
Add chestnuts and dried cranberries and stir just to combine. Set aside to cool.

Add cornbread stuffing to the pan.

Heat the vegetable broth in the microwave and stir in the tahini.

Add broth-tahini and remaining chopped cilantro and stir just until combined.

Adding mushrooms to pan

Check for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper if desired.

Spread into pan

Transfer to a large baking dish. (There will be 10 to 12 cups)

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top just starts to brown.

Cover will foil and continue baking until heated through.

Finished cornbread

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