How to Skip the Turkey

We’re one week out from Thanksgiving, and you need showstopping sides (read to the very end for rapid-fire recipes) and meatless mains and dairy-free desserts, and you need them stat. So let’s not waste a moment of time. This … is Recipe Matchmaker.

“I am looking for a stand-in main dish to replace turkey, one that the classic meat-and-potatoes-eating, middle-aged, blue-collar man would approve of, i.e., my father.” — Cara

This is precisely the time to turn to Alexa Weibel’s catalog of celebratory vegetarian mains. There’s her instant-classic mushroom Wellington, a feat in mushroom engineering in which seared portobello mushrooms stand in for beef tenderloin and are enrobed in a vegan mushroom duxelles. (As written, the dish is not vegan, but Alexa provides great instructions for veganizing it in the note at the top of the recipe.) A meat and potatoes lover is almost always also a mushroom lover, and this dish provides both the pomp and heft to wow and satisfy even the greatest skeptic.

Then there’s her brand-new baked Brie and caramelized vegetable pie, which is far less work but no less impressive. Mushrooms, butternut squash and brussels sprouts — all stars of a strong Thanksgiving spread — are tucked around a round of creamy cheese with a red onion jam and swaddled in puff pastry. The vegetables can be prepared a couple of days ahead, so all you have to do on the big day is fill, wrap and bake. I’ve been lucky enough to eat it twice already ahead of the holiday, and I can’t get its cornucopia of savory flavors out of my head.

“I went vegetarian a few years ago, but my dad made the BEST turkey on his smoker, and Thanksgiving is a real fight of my willpower. I’m in desperate need of a veggie (side) dish that has the same smoky, juicy, herby punch that I’ve been missing for years!” — Maura

I am once again looking to Alexa’s recipes, namely her roasted mushrooms with smoky pomegranate sauce. It has everything you’re looking for: dried ancho chile and plenty of crushed black peppercorns add smoky notes; a tangy pomegranate sauce and a genius steam-roast method keeps things juicy; rosemary sprigs add their classic herby perfume. And because the recipe calls for oyster mushroom clusters, the eating even feels a little meaty.

“Traditional dessert or tradition-inspired dessert with no cow milk or milk products and no soy milk or milk products? I’m a breastfeeding mum with dietary restrictions to protect the health of my baby who has food allergies.” — Katherine

Genevieve Ko’s new pumpkin meringue pie was developed with dairy-free (and gluten-free!) diners in mind. The filling leans on coconut milk for silkiness, and the burnished meringue topping provides luxurious creaminess without butter. The press-in crust of pecans and rolled oats provides toasty, nutty flavors; just be sure to purchase gluten-free oats to avoid any cross contamination with wheat.

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