Plant-Based Holiday Cooking Tips From Chef Morgan Jarrett

If you eat plant-based and have meat eaters coming to your Thanksgiving, don’t double up your work – make veggie dishes that everyone at the table will enjoy. These 15 plant-based suggestions will help you set a table that even meat eaters will love this Thanksgiving.

1. Honeynut Squash

A closeup of many honeynut squashes in a box.
Photo Credit: Bryan Pollard/Shutterstock.

This squash is easier to work with than thick-skinned butternut. Now available at grocery stores as well as farmers’ markets, honeynut is smaller, more tender, and has a delicious flavor.

2. Use Lesser-Known Veggies

Purple sweet potatoes on a wooden surface. Two are whole and one is cut into thick slices.
Photo Credit: Nungning20/Shutterstock.

They can make an occasion feel even more special. For example, try purple sweet potatoes, trumpet mushrooms, and kohlrabi.

3. Step Aside Caviar

Champagne Grapes also known as Black Corinth or Zante Currant in a bowl with white background.
Photo Credit: S0NIT0/Shutterstock.

Tiny Champagne grapes are an elegant, luxe, and affordable choice to top salads and garnish holiday platters.

4. Swap Poultry Stocks And Butter For Vegetable Stock And Plant Butter

A pot full of vegetables and fresh herbs for making vegetable stock.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Vegetable stock can take the place of turkey stock for stuffing, and with the addition of poultry seasoning, you will never miss it. Use plant-based butter for holiday tarts and sauces.

5. Keep Your Food Colorful

A white bowl filled with winter harvest fruit salad on a wood surface.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Enchant everyone at the table with edible pops of color. A sprinkle of pomegranate seeds can jazz up green beans or a roasted squash dish. Purple sweet potato pie with maple crème fraiche brightens up the array of desserts.

6. Think Outside The Box Of Black Pepper

Spicy Togarashi Shichimi Japanese 7 Spice in a bowl.
Photo Credit: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.

Arm yourself with an arsenal of spices that will separate your food from the basic holiday table. Chef Morgan always keeps Urfa Biber/Isot, Aleppo, Espelette, togarashi, and chili crisp within reach.

7. Use Honeycomb

Plate with sweet honeycombs on black background.
Photo Credit: Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock.

Honeycomb dresses up a cheese board and is also a great topping for shareable crostini at cocktail hour with fresh figs and creamy ricotta. You can also do a vegan cheese board and add vibrant dried cranberries, cherry tomatoes, and olives. At STATE Grill, we are lucky to source our own honey from our rooftop hive at the Empire State Building.

8. Don’t Skip The Sprouts

A sheet pan holding maple roasted brussels sprouts and pomegranate arils.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Crispy Brussels sprouts are a classic holiday vegetable. Give yours an upgrade with a spicy and sweet mix of gently caramelized shallots and chilies, or try these maple roasted sprouts.

9. Pro Tip For Vegetables

A pan of roasted vegetables.
Photo Credit: Dragon_Fly/Shutterstock.

After cooking vegetables, avoid stacking them so they do not continue to steam each
other. Overcooked vegetables are never enjoyed.

10. Upgrade Your Mac & Cheese

A spoon lifts mac and cheese out of a bowl.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

To upgrade mac and cheese, blend a custom mix of cheeses – four is the magic number. Try topping with breadcrumbs and baking until golden. If you want to make it fancy, use individual cocotte, but it’s also fun to have a big casserole for everyone to dive into.

11. Salad Toppers

Sliced and grilled fennel on parchment.
Photo Credit: anitage/Shutterstock.

Prepare a warm salad by grilling radicchio and fennel, then top with fresh citrus, black pepper, and pecorino.

12. Eat Locally, Think Globally

A sign says, "Fresh, local produce", amidst baskets of fresh, market produce.
Photo Credit: Arina P Habich/Shutterstock.

Source your fresh ingredients locally, but find inspiration from global cuisines and sources. Many global cuisines are plant-based, think India, Italy, and Jamaica for

13. Marinate Those Veggies

Jars with variety of marinated vegetables and fruits. Preserved food.
Photo Credit: monticello/Shutterstock.

For an all-purpose, universal vegetable marinade, mix high-quality balsamic vinegar of
Modena, olive oil, and chili flakes. Interchange any acid, fat, or heat and experiment with
Calabrian or Urfa biber chiles, as well as sherry or chardonnay vinegar. To sweeten, swirl in honey or pomegranate molasses. Want to start with an easy recipe? Try this Pickled Refrigerator Cauliflower.

14. Don’t Forget The Finishing Touches

Tangerine oil on table on light background.
Photo Credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock.

A bright flavor like Agrumato tangerine oil drizzled on side dishes adds a vibrancy to earthy fall flavors. For deeper, more intense tasting notes, use smoked olive oil. This adds a bit of meaty depth to vegetables; Chef Morgan recommends O-Med from Spain.

15. Add Maple Dressing

A salad with feta and roasted butternut squash, perfect for drizzling maple dressing over.
Photo Credit: Rimma Bondarenko/Shutterstock.

Maple dressing is sweet, spicy, and tart – peak cool-weather flavors and gorgeous color. Below is a recipe from Chef Morgan, who enthusiastically says: “I put it on everything. It’s a dressing, it’s a marinade, it works on roasted carrots or fresh salads.”

Maple Dressing
by Chef Morgan Jarrett, STATE Grill and Bar

2 shallots
4 garlic cloves
3 cups maple syrup
1-quart cider vinegar
2 quarts of blended oil
1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper (or 1⁄2 tablespoon chili flakes)
Salt and pepper to taste

Simply blend all ingredients together in a blender. Use as a dressing or marinade. It will keep in the fridge for several days.

Planning Thanksgiving?

A decorated Thanksgiving table.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

It’s never too early to start planning for the big meal this year. Thanksgiving takes careful planning, especially if you are the one cooking. Here is an entire outline of dishes you can make for the big day.

20 Clean Eating Thanksgiving Side Dishes

A spoon lifts some Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole up out of a white casserole dish.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Want to keep it healthy this Thanksgiving? Tired of feeling like you have a brick in your tummy after Thanksgiving dinner? Try one of these 20 healthy side dishes. Nobody will know the difference.

Recipes For Turkey Leftovers That You Won’t Get Tired Of Eating!

A Thanksgiving Traditional Leftover Sandwich on a white plate.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Do you always have leftovers that go bad after Thanksgiving dinner? Don’t let that happen this year. Use some of these recipes to make sure nothing goes to waste.

This originally appeared on The Gracious Pantry.

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