Today I’m sharing the vegan Thanksgiving dinner menu from our recent Friendsgiving.
This Saturday we celebrated Friendsgiving. You’ve heard of Friendsgiving, right? It’s when friends get together in the days just before or just after Thanksgiving to do their own rendition of the meal. It seems like this past weekend was the time to do it, if my Instagram feed is any kind of indication. In fact, there was such a whirlwind of fall foods in my feed, I had to wonder when Friendsgiving got so popular. It’s like the Elf on a Shelf of Thanksgiving.
Obviously, we’ve collectively been having Thanksgiving with friends for years – for as long as people have lived in other parts of the globe as their relatives or preferred to dine with their chosen families for whatever reason. But dubbing it “Friendsgiving” and doing it en masse feels like it came out of nowhere – like the Berenstein/Berenstain Bears phenomenon of the Mandela Effect.
(Have you heard of the Mandela Effect? I hadn’t, and then David mentioned it one day. Apparently, there is some internet conspiracy theory that there are alternate timelines, and you can see glitches in the system by way of shared inconsistent memories. One of the common examples is that some people remember it being the Berenstein Bears as children, and yet, the name of the book series is Berenstain Bears. You can read more about it on Snopes.)Some people say that Friendsgiving actually started with the TV series, Friends, when the gang gathered together for Thanksgiving, because of past traumatizing experiences with the holiday. No one referred to it as Friendsgiving on that episode, though. The earliest print uses of Friendsgiving happened in 2007, and it was added to the Urban Dictionary back in 2009.
Anyway, now that the Friendsgiving history lesson has been sufficiently discussed…
We celebrated Friendsgiving this past weekend by sharing a vegan Thanksgiving dinner with a few of our favorite people.
Cranberry champagne cocktail
Since our vegan Thanksgiving dinner actually fell over lunchtime, I wanted a cocktail that was on the lighter end of the spectrum but still festive.
I made these simple cocktails by putting a few fresh cranberries at the bottom of each champagne flute, and then topped them with sweetened cranberry juice until the cranberries were just covered. (So it was basically just a Tablespoon or two of cranberry juice.) Then I finished off the rest of the glass with champagne.
It was refreshing and fizzy, as I didn’t want a drink that would make me crash at 1 pm.
For a non-alcoholic version, David and I have also made them with cranberry juice and sparkling water. That’s also really nice without being too sugary. If a person prefers things on the sweeter side, I bet it would work with tonic water or club soda as well.
I had everyone arrive first for cocktails & nibbles in the form of a vegan cheeseboard. This is one of David and my favorite weeknight meals – a series of nibbles from the refrigerator. But of course, it’s also a beautiful & colorful way to start a dinner party.
The vegan cheeseboard included:
- Warmed Castelvetrano olives with lemon & garlic
- Sliced persimmons
- Broccoli florets
- Jarred grilled artichoke hearts
- Vegan smoked gouda
- Vegan cheddar chive
- Marcona almonds with truffle salt
- A variety of crackers
I’ve been making the most of persimmon season, but I know they’re not as familiar and beloved for everyone. So I wanted to share them with my friends who may not have had them before.
(Do you love persimmons too? I recently made a video of my delicata squash salad with persimmons that is worth seeking out during this brief window of time that they’re around.)
I also made a batch of my warmed Castelvetrano olives with lemon & garlic. This one works well for dinner parties, because you can make it ahead of time and then quickly warm them again once guests arrive. The longer the olives marinate, the better the flavor.
Finishing out the cheeseboard were jarred grilled artichoke hearts, fresh vegetables, and two kinds of non-dairy cheese from Herbivorous Butcher.
Herbivorous Butcher offers a Thanksgiving feast this time of year that can be purchased in their brick and mortar store or online. Since the store is in Minneapolis, which is a jaunt, we did an online order. It came with two kinds of non-dairy cheese, maple sage breakfast sausage, vegan marshmallows, and a Thanksgiving roast…. But more on that in a second.
By the time our cocktails were done, the cheeses were a memory. Both of them went over well, but the smoked gouda was a particular hit. It has those wonderful undertones of smokiness without overwhelming.
With our palates whetted, it was time for the main attraction!
Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner
Vegan Thanksgiving dinner included:
- Mashed potatoes and seitan bacon gravy
- Orange cranberry sauce
- Stuffed seitan turkey
- Green bean casserole
- Wild rice stuffing
- Apple pie
I made mashed potatoes, and then I stirred caramelized onions into them. I served them with seitan bacon vegan gravy. I knew that my friend, Adam, isn’t into mushrooms. So I wanted to serve a gravy that he’d be excited to eat as well. This gravy includes sage and rosemary, with the added edge of smoked salt and chewy seitan bacon to finish it off.
Of course, it isn’t vegan Thanksgiving dinner without cranberry sauce. I like to make orange cranberry sauce that is sweetened with orange juice and maple syrup. They mellow out the tartness of the cranberries and add another dimension of flavor.Hannah & Carl brought green bean casserole, which I was really excited about. Green bean casserole was always one of my favorites growing up, but the version I grew up eating was made with non-vegan ingredients like cream of mushroom soup. Hannah used the recipe from Fatfree Vegan, and it was absolutely wonderful. It had a peppery bite that I really enjoyed.
Ashley & Adam brought wild rice stuffing. They are from Minnesota, where wild rice pride is akin to the way Iowans get about corn. They’ve talked for years about how there has to be a wild rice dish at Thanksgiving to make it official, and so it was very fitting that they came in tow with this wild rice dish dotted with apples and cranberries.For the main course, we had the stuffed vegan turkey from Herbivorous Butcher. I’d had their turkey seitan in the past, but in the form of deli slices from their store. I cut this holiday roast into thick slices, and there was plenty for our group of 6 with enough for leftovers.
(Still planning your main course? Mini vegetable pot pies or polenta stacks with BBQ squash & cashew cream would also be eye-catching options.)Hannah & Carl also brought dessert – apple pie. This classic pie had big slivers of apples just the way I like and a perfectly puffy crust. The apple pie recipe is a family secret, but the crust comes from Namely Marly.
It’s no wonder that Friendsgiving has gotten so popular. Thanksgiving is known to be a holiday that can have its share of stresses – with travel, clashing politics & ideologies, and other drama. But Friendsgiving has none of that – just a relaxed vegan Thanksgiving dinner with friends in the comfort of our home.