Colors and textures also add interest to the meal. Vary these. If you're making traditional mashed potatoes, Morgan says, maybe cut your sweet potatoes into spears and roast them. Use a number of different techniques — roasting, braising, stir-frying — to cook your green vegetables. Instead of pureeing the squash, cut it in half and roast it for a more dramatic presentation.
“Then it's a large canoe shape on the plate,” Morgan says. “That makes for more interest than these piles of things on the plate that all appear as side dishes.”
And, of course, pull out all the creative stops, exploring the different textures and properties you can coax from each vegetable. At her restaurant, Cohen often incorporates different components of a vegetable in a single dish. She adds corn and whipped corn to corn grits, makes pasta out of pureed broccoli then tops it with stir-fried broccoli, and tops a carrot risotto with carrot chips. “You get a flavor explosion on your plate with this one vegetable,” Cohen says.
And don't for a minute think a vegetarian Thanksgiving somehow breaks tradition. When the settlers and the Native Americans met back at the start of all this, it was to celebrate a bountiful harvest, the crops that had been successfully grown.
“It's overwhelming how many great things are in season now that we can use for a beautiful vegetarian meal,” Morgan says. “That's what we're celebrating. It's that same celebration of the harvest of all these things that have been underground for a while.”
This simple, colorful quiche is jammed with seasonal vegetables and has just enough rich Gruyere to make it taste indulgent. But the most indulgent aspect of this recipe is that it can be prepared and baked the day before, meaning you have one less dish to worry about on the big day. Just pop it into a 300-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes to warm right before serving.
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ROASTED VEGETABLE QUICHE
Start to finish: 1 hour 30 minutes (15 minutes active)
1 small red onion, diced
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 prepared raw 9-inch pie crust
¾ cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1 cup half-and-half
• Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
• In a large bowl, toss together the red pepper, red onion, sweet potato and zucchini. Add the olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper, then stir to coat. Spread the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown. Remove the vegetables from the oven.
• Reduce the heat to 350 degrees.
• If it isn't already, fit the pie crust into a pie pan, crimping the edges as needed. Place the pie shell on a baking sheet and add the roasted vegetables. Top with the cheese.
• In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and the half-and-half. Pour over the cheese and vegetables. Bake for 45 minutes, or until slightly puffed and set in the middle. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Nutrition information per serving: 290 calories; 170 calories from fat (59 percent of total calories); 19 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 160 mg cholesterol; 20 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 10 g protein; 330 mg sodium.