Meet Alex Caspero
Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Chef, and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.
I’ve got the perfect small Thanksgiving meal for you! This roasted vegetable Thanksgiving bowl has all the flavors of traditional Thanksgiving without all the effort.
It’s just going to be me and my little family for the holidays this year, and I’m thinking that most of you are in a similar boat. I wish I was spending it like we usually do– with BL’s large family, enjoying an even larger feast, but we’ve decided to stay home and be by ourselves this year. I keep thinking the light is at the end of the tunnel, and holding out on big celebrations for a little bit longer feels doable.
So, I made you this bowl! It’s great if your Thanksgiving plans involve only only a few people, or if you don’t feel like cooking much this year. It’s packed with all of my favorites: caramelized roasted vegetables, turkey-less tofu, mushroom gravy, wild rice pilaf and homemade cranberry orange sauce.
I shared my lentil meatballs with you last week, and I’m pretty confident that either bowl will be a winner for your Thanksgiving table. Instead of a giant traditional feast, I’ve tried to incorporate all of the flavors you expect without having to make a dozen different dishes.
This is the star of the bowl for me. Truth be told, I could eat roasted vegetables (and gravy… and rolls!) for Thanksgiving and call it a day. This time of year, I roast a big platter of vegetables at least twice a week. They are so delicious and I really can’t get enough; I eat half the tray while I wait for everything else to be ready.
Choose your own adventure here; squash works as does brussels sprouts, parsnips, sweet potatoes. You want the vegetables to be hearty enough to stand up to a savory mushroom gravy and a dollop of cranberry sauce, so I’d skip the summer squash and asparagus. If it grows well in the Fall, it’ll likely do well in this dish.
To get the classic Thanksgiving flavor, generously rub your veggies with thyme, sage, rosemary and parsley along with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. I know some people like to do oil-free roasting, but I’m not one of them. I like the added oil to get a nice, slightly crispy crust on the vegetables and the added fat helps with fat-soluble nutrient absorption.
I almost didn’t include tofu here as I didn’t know if we needed it, but my husband insisted on some type of ‘protein.’ So, here we are. Give the tofu the same treatment as you do the vegetables– rubbed generously with both olive oil and seasonings. Place the tofu in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until golden brown and crispy. Just like the vegetables, I could eat almost an entire tray of tofu like this.
I’m a bit partial to my mushroom gravy, but I pinkie promise it’s the best. My very meat-and-potatoes father-in-law requests it every Thanksgiving, preferring it to turkey gravy which always feels like a big win in my book. It’s made with both fresh and dried mushrooms, so you know it’s got plenty of rich, umami flavor.
This gravy freezes well, so I usually make a double batch and then freeze half to use later over homemade mashed potatoes or more roasted vegetables.
I almost did a mashed potato base for this bowl– but, with all of the roasted vegetables, I wanted something hearty that would stand up and contrast to the creamy veggies. Wild Rice pilaf is such a go-to side-dish for me, and I totally cheat by using a box mix.
Feel free to make your own homemade version, grab the box like I do, or switch out another grain all together.
The cranberry orange compote on top is so lovely, cutting through the rich gravy and providing a light, bright bite to this bowl. What kind of Thanksgiving bowl would this be without a cranberry sauce?
First, you’ll dissolve a smidge of sugar in fresh squeezed orange juice and zest. You can also use good orange juice if you’d like, the zest is nice but OK if you don’t have a fresh orange lying around. Then, add in fresh cranberries and simmer until the burst and soften.
I like my cranberry sauce a little chunky, though cooking it longer will create a thinner sauce. You can also smash the berries with a wooden spoon or potato masher.
This roasted vegetable Thanksgiving bowl takes a little more effort that I’d typically put together for a weeknight, but it’s not much work when you consider the effort normally put forth on Thanksgiving.
For a healthy, vegan, plant-based Thanksgiving option– try this small batch bowl.
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Roasted vegetable thanksgiving bowl! This simple vegan dinner is perfect for a small Thanksgiving celebration. Roasted vegetables and tofu, wild rice pilaf, mushroom gravy and cranberry sauce.
Roasted Vegetables & Tofu
Cranberry Orange Sauce
Wild Rice Pilaf
*The vegetables may take longer depending on what you choose and how large you cut them.
**I use a box wild rice pilaf for ease; but you can use any grain you’d like.
***You can make both the gravy and the cranberry sauce in advance.
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