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Powered by Plants: Have a case of the vegan on Thanksgiving? Try this at-home remedy

This vegan Thanksgiving dinner includes roast, mashed potatoes and gravy and green bean casserole.  (Jonathan Glover/For The Spokesman-Review)
This vegan Thanksgiving dinner includes roast, mashed potatoes and gravy and green bean casserole. (Jonathan Glover/For The Spokesman-Review)
By Jonathan Glover For The Spokesman-Review

Have you ever found yourself staring longingly at an empty plate at Nana’s house? Has your stomach gurgled the whole night through heading into Black Friday?

Did your Grandpa ask if you’re still not eating meat before setting a plate of chicken dumplings in your lap, not realizing that chicken is in fact meat? But, hey, at least it’s not turkey or ham.

Sounds like you have a case of the vegan on Thanksgiving. (Note: Similar side effects include vegan on Christmas and vegan on Easter Sunday.)

Lucky for you, I have just the remedy – concocted from years of clinical, er, practical experience. Because I, too, have navigated my way through plenty of awkward family dinners, the kinds plagued by habit, tradition and large dead birds.

And if you’re like me – a millennial with perpetually no plans to cook holiday dinners yourself, so you inevitably get dragged along to a family member’s house or a friend’s – then you know the feeling.

But wait. What will I eat? Sometimes you make a big deal of it, asking if there’s any way dishes can be made vegetarian, let alone vegan. Other times, you throw in the towel and load up on calories before making the drive over.

I’m here to say this injustice will stop here, now and forever. Because we can do better. We have to do better. I’ve prepared three easy, no-hassle Thanksgiving favorites you can have ready to go when the holiday approaches.

Either make them beforehand and bring them along as a showcase of your amazing culinary skills, or eat them at home, cold and alone, like yours truly. Ain’t no time like the holidays.

Vegan Green Bean Casserole

1 pound fresh green beans or two cans of canned

Olive oil or vegan butter

1 shallot or onion

1-2 garlic cloves

1 cup mushrooms (button or cremini)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¾ cup vegetable broth

1 cup unsweetened plant milk

1 ½ cups crispy fried onions

Salt and pepper

If you’ve ever made green bean casserole, you know that all we’re doing with the vegan version is making milk-less cream of mushroom.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Boil the green beans (if you bought fresh) for 5-10 minutes until done, then transfer to ice water so it stops cooking. Drain and set aside. If you opted for canned green beans, drain the cans.

In a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil or butter and throw in the chopped onion or shallot (don’t do what I always do and mistake shallots for scallions). Let that cook for a few minutes, then add the garlic.

Cook for a few more minutes until the mushrooms are browned, then sprinkle in the flour and slowly add in the vegetable broth, whisking to incorporate.

Add the unsweetened plant milk and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until it is thick and bubbly.

Remove from the heat and add about a half cup of fried onions and green beans. Toss them all together, with the vegan cream of mushroom sticking to everything. Transfer to a casserole dish and top with the remaining onion straws.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or more, making sure to not burn the straws.

Vegan Mashed Potatoes With Vegan Gravy

3 large russet potatoes, peeled

Unsweetened plant milk

Vegan butter

¼ cup olive oil

1 package mushrooms

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 quart (4 cups) vegetable broth

Salt and pepper

Peel the russets, then slice into manageable pieces. Throw them all into a large pot of boiling water for 15-20 minutes, depending on the sizes of potato. Check with a fork for doneness. The fork should easily slide into the entire potato piece.

Once done, drain and then mash with a potato masher or large fork. Add in the unsweetened milk until mashed potatoes are fluffy. Add butter to taste.

For the gravy, heat the oil and mushrooms over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the flour and keep cooking until it’s absorbed and not white anymore. Add 1 cup of broth and whisk until incorporated.

Add the rest of the broth and heat to a gentle boil over medium-low. Continue to whisk as sauce thickens, about 15 minutes, stirring often.

Vegan Roast

1 box Field Roast’s Celebration Roast

I had planned an intricate, made-from-scratch tofu log with flavors reminiscent of deli meat. Then I looked at all the recipes and steps it takes to make it and thought, “Why bother?”

So instead, and in service of making Thanksgiving meals as hassle-free as possible, just buy Field Roast’s Celebration Roast and follow the directions on the package. It takes about 1 hour to cook.

And if you’re feeling extra lazy, there’s even a packet of gravy mix. Just add water and stir.

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