Cook the Books

veg by the book

For our annual selection of the best vegetarian cookbooks of 2016, we put the authors to the ultimate test: Would we make their recipes for our friends and family at Thanksgiving? The following standout titles all got a resounding “Yes!” What’s more, each offered so many options, we were able to compile an entire holiday menu for you to enjoy at your own seasonal celebration.


By Mary Margaret Chappell
Above Image | iStockphoto/Lisa Thornberg

Rum-Pear Cider

SERVES 12

Offer holiday guests a hot mug of this festive beverage right when they walk in the door. By swapping in lightly sweet pear juice for apple cider and using a slow cooker to steep the juice (and a decent dose of rum!) in spices, Erin Gleeson has come up with a fabulous, fragrant hot cider for grown-ups.


  • 64 oz. (2 quarts) pear juice
  • 8 oz. dark rum
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 3 cinnamon sticks, plus additional sticks for garnish, optional
  • 1 apple
  • 2 tsp. whole cloves
  • Star anise for garnish, optional

    Combine juice, rum, nutmeg, and cinnamon sticks in a slow cooker. Use a toothpick to make holes in an apple and push cloves in all around. Add the clove apple to the slow cooker and heat on high for 1 hour, or until hot. Serve cider in mugs garnished with additional cinnamon sticks (1 per mug) and 1 or 2 star anise, if desired.


PER 3⁄4-CUP SERVING 143 CAL; 0 G PROT; 0 G TOTAL FAT (0 G SAT FAT); 25 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; 7 MG SOD; 0 G FIBER; 20 G SUGARS

REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE FOREST FEAST GATHERINGS. PHOTO CREDIT: ERIN GLEESON. © ABRAMS, 2016.

Goji-Saffron Soup with Sorghum

SERVES 8

Don’t be put off by the strange-sounding combination of ingredients. The resulting soup is light, brothy, exquisitely subtle— and a nice change from all the heavier fare served at the holidays. Best of all, you can make this tasty starter a day or two ahead—the flavors and textures actually improve over time.


  • ½ cup sorghum
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium bulb fennel, finely diced (2 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced (1 ½ cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup dried goji berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley, divided

  • Bring sorghum and enough water to cover by 2 inches to a boil in small saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 45 to 75 minutes, or until grain is soft and has consistency of wild rice. Drain, and set aside. (You should have 1 cup sorghum.)
  • Bring 1 cup vegetable broth to a simmer in small saucepan. Remove from heat. Finely crumble saffron threads by hand (or grind them in a mortar and pestle—the finer they’re ground, the better the flavor), and stir them into broth. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in fennel and onion, and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic, and cook 2 minutes more, or until vegetables are lightly caramelized.
  • Stir in wine, goji berries, bay leaves, remaining 5 cups vegetable broth, and saffron broth; season with salt, if desired. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Discard bay leaves, stir in 1 Tbs. parsley, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve garnished with remaining parsley.

PER 1-CUP SERVING 126 CAL; 3 G PROT; 4 G TOTAL FAT (⟨ G SAT FAT); 21 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; 137 MG SOD; 4 G FIBER; 7 G SUGARS

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM SUPERFOOD SOUPS © 2016 BY JULIE MORRIS, STERLING PUBLISHING CO., INC. PHOTOGRAPHY BY OLIVER BARTH.

Blender Sweet Potato Pie

SERVES 8

A sweet-potato pie made in a blender? Absolutely! It’s the lazy cook’s dream. Make this for fall and holiday gatherings to wow your guests. if you’re not a fan of sweet potatoes, this recipe also works well with pumpkin purée.


Crust

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 tsp. sea salt
  • 7 Tbs. cold, vegan buttery sticks, such as Earth Balance, cut into chunks
  • 2–5 Tbs. ice-cold water

Filling

  • 2 ½ lbs. sweet potatoes
  • 1⁄4 cup maple syrup
  • 1⁄4 cup organic brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened plain almond milk
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 ½ Tbs. cornstarch or arrowroot starch
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract, optional
  • 1⁄4 tsp. ground nutmeg, optional
  • 1⁄4 tsp. sea salt

  • To make Crust: Pulse flour and salt in blender to combine. Add buttery-stick chunks, and pulse to combine. (Texture should resemble wet sand.) With blender on lowest speed, add ice-cold water 1 Tbs. at a time until loose dough forms. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface. Work gently with hands to form a ½-inch-thick disk. Roll into circle just larger than circumference of 9-inch pie pan, adding more flour if needed. Gently roll crust onto rolling pin. Unroll, and drape crust over pie pan. Crimp edges of crust into whatever design you wish. Then prick bottom of crust with fork. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • To make Filling: Bring sweet potatoes and enough water to cover by 1 inch to a boil in large saucepan. Boil 15 to 20 minutes, or until very soft. Drain, and cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  • Remove potato skins, and transfer potatoes to blender. Add all remaining Filling ingredients, and blend until creamy and smooth.
  • Pour Filling into Crust, and even top with spoon.
  • Bake 60 to 70 minutes, or until crust is light golden brown and filling is jiggly, with some cracks on top.
  • 7 Cool completely before loosely covering with paper towel and foil (the paper towel will catch any moisture). Chill 4 to 6 hours, or overnight.

PER SLICE 337 CAL; 4 G PROT; 12 G TOTAL FAT (4 G SAT FAT); 54 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; 270 MG SOD; 4 G FIBER; 19 G SUGARS

REPRINTED FROM MINIMALIST BAKER’S EVERYDAY COOKING BY ARRANGEMENT WITH AVERY, A MEMBER OF PENGUIN GROUP (USA) LLC, A PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE COMPANY. COPYRIGHT © 2016, DANA SHULTZ.

Shepherd’s Pie

SERVES 8

Make this shepherd’s pie your main dish at Thanksgiving and watch your guests’ eyes light up when you bring it to the table. It’s hard to beat this winning combo of mashed potatoes and saucy vegetables!


Potato Topping

  • 2 ½ lbs. Yukon Gold, yellow, red, or fingerling potatoes, peeled, if desired, and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1⁄4 cup vegan butter
  • 4–6 Tbs. unsweetened, unflavored almond milk

Filling

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 leeks or 1 large sweet onion, diced (2 ½ cups)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced (2 Tbs.)
  • 1 lb. cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 1-lb. bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 Tbs. potato starch
  • 3⁄4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1⁄4 cup dry red wine
  • 1⁄4 tsp. red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 ½ tsp. fine sea salt, or to taste
  • 2 ½ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 tsp. dried
  • 2 ½ tsp. fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp. dried, plus more for garnish
  • 1 14-oz. can lentils, rinsed and drained,or 1 ½ cups cooked lentils
  • Paprika, for garnish
  • Cozy Gravy, for serving

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil 3- or 4-quart casserole dish.
  • To make Potato Topping: Bring potatoes and enough water to cover by 2 inches to a boil in large saucepan. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain, and return to saucepan. Add minced garlic, garlic powder, and butter. Mash until smooth, adding almond milk as needed to achieve a spreadable consistency. Set aside.
  • To make Filling: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic, and season with salt, if desired. Sauté 3 to 5 minutes, or until leeks are softened.
  • Stir in mushrooms, and increase heat to medium-high. Sauté 10 to 13 minutes, or until much of liquid released by the mushrooms has cooked off. Add frozen vegetables (no need to thaw beforehand), and sauté 3 to 5 minutes, or until heated through. Stir in the potato starch until combined. Add broth and wine, and stir to combine. Simmer mixture over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until thickened slightly. Add red pepper flakes, if using, salt, rosemary, thyme, and lentils. Sauté 2 minutes more.
  • Spread filling into casserole dish. Spread Potato Topping over Filling in even layer. Sprinkle several dashes of paprika and some thyme leaves over Topping.
  • Bake 25 minutes. Increase oven to broil, and broil 4 to 7 minutes, until bubbling around the edges. Watch closely to avoid burning.
  • Serve with Cozy Gravy.

PER 1-CUP SERVING 325 CAL; 10 G PROT; 9 G TOTAL FAT (3 G SAT FAT); 50 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; 506 MG SOD; 8 G FIBER; 6 G SUGARS

RECIPES REPRINTED FROM OH SHE GLOWS EVERYDAY BY ARRANGEMENT WITH AVERY BOOKS, A MEMBER OF PENGUIN GROUP (USA) LLC, A PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE COMPANY. COPYRIGHT © 2016, ANGELA LIDDON.

Cozy Gravy

MAKES 2 CUPS
30 MINUTES OR LESS

No special ingredients are necessary for this quick, easy all-purpose gravy.


  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced (2 Tbs.)
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, plus more if needed
  • 1⁄4 cup plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour, white spelt flour, or gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 cup low-sodium tamari
  • 2 Tbs. nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. white wine vinegar

  • Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 4 to 5 minutes, or until softened.
  • Whisk together broth and flour in small bowl. Stir broth mixture into onions. Add tamari, nutritional yeast, and pepper, and stir again. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes, or until gravy thickens, whisking frequently. Reduce heat if necessary to keep mixture from sticking to bottom of pan.
  • Transfer gravy to blender, and blend on medium speed until smooth.
  • Return gravy to saucepan, and add vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes over low–medium heat, or until thickened, stirring frequently.

PER 1⁄4 -CUP SERVING 78 CAL; 2 G PROT; 4 G TOTAL FAT (⟨1 G SAT FAT); 9 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; 388 MG SOD; 1 G FIBER; 1 G SUGARS

RECIPES REPRINTED FROM OH SHE GLOWS EVERYDAY BY ARRANGEMENT WITH AVERY BOOKS, A MEMBER OF PENGUIN GROUP (USA) LLC, A PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE COMPANY. COPYRIGHT © 2016, ANGELA LIDDON.

Super Sprout Salad

SERVES 4
30 MINUTES OR LESS

So often, salads get sidelined at a holiday feast when they have to compete with all of the season’s rich offerings. Not this one! Sprouts, chickpeas, hemp seeds, and a killer dressing will have guests coming back for seconds.


  • 4 cups loosely packed mixed salad greens
  • ½ cup alfalfa, clover, or broccoli sprouts
  • ½ cup crunchy sprout mix (typically includes lentils, adzuki beans, and peas)
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 2 oz. sunflower, buckwheat, or pea sprouts
  • ¾ cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs. pitted and sliced Kalamata olives, or your choice of olives
  • 2 Tbs. hemp seeds, optional
  • ½ cup Raw Hempseed Ranch Dressing

  • Place salad greens in a bowl. Top with alfalfa sprouts and crunchy sprouts. Add chickpeas and sunflower sprouts. Top with cherry tomatoes and olives, and sprinkle with hemp seeds, if using.
  • Drizzle with Raw Hempseed Ranch Dressing and serve.

PER 1 3⁄4-CUP SERVING 195 CAL; 11 G PROT; 9 G TOTAL FAT (1 G SAT FAT); 21 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; 340 MG SOD; 5 G FIBER; 3 G SUGARS

EXCERPTED FROM HEALING THE VEGAN WAY: PLANT-BASED EATING FOR OPTIMAL HEALTH & WELLNESS, BY MARK REINFELD. COPYRIGHT © 2016. AVAILABLE FROM DA CAPO LIFELONG BOOKS, AN IMPRINT OF PERSEUS BOOKS, LLC, A SUBSIDIARY OF HACHETTE BOOK GROUP, INC.

Raw Hempseed Ranch Dressing

MAKES 1 CUP
30 MINUTES OR LESS

This dressing is pure alchemy: Once blended, the ingredients come together in a creamy salad sauce that’s remarkably close to store-bought (and dairy-based) ranch. The dressing will keep up to a week in the fridge. If it separates during storage, just give it a quick stir.


  • 1⁄4 cup raw cashew pieces
  • ½ cup hulled hemp seeds
  • 2 Tbs. nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. sea salt, or to taste
  • 1⁄4 tsp. onion flakes
  • 1⁄4 tsp. wheat-free tamari sauce, optional
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. minced, fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp. minced, fresh dill
  • Pinch paprika

  • Soak cashews in a bowl with water to cover 15 minutes, or up to 3 hours. Drain and rinse well.
  • Transfer cashews to blender with 3⁄4 cup plus 2 Tbs. water and hemp seeds, yeast, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt, onion flakes, tamari (if using), crushed red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Blend until creamy.
  • 3 Transfer to bowl, and whisk in parsley, dill, and paprika
  • .

PER 2-TBS. SERVING 82 CAL; 5 G PROT; 6 G TOTAL FAT (⟨ G SAT FAT); 4 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; 140 MG SOD; ⟨ G FIBER; ⟨ G SUGARS

EXCERPTED FROM HEALING THE VEGAN WAY: PLANT-BASED EATING FOR OPTIMAL HEALTH & WELLNESS, BY MARK REINFELD. COPYRIGHT © 2016. AVAILABLE FROM DA CAPO LIFELONG BOOKS, AN IMPRINT OF PERSEUS BOOKS, LLC, A SUBSIDIARY OF HACHETTE BOOK GROUP, INC.