lanning vegetarian offerings for the holidays doesn’t have to be complicated—but it
should be creative. Full-time vegetarians and occasional ones, as well, enjoy innovative,
well-prepared food just like any other customer. Developing these foods is no different
from creating the rest of the menu. Think fresh, local and seasonal. Take advantage of
what’s in the market and the cooking style of your kitchen.
VEGETARIAN HOLIDAY TABLE
“Make the food as sexy as possible so everyone will want to eat it,” advises Derek Sarno,
senior global executive chef, R&D/product development, Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas.
Among Sarno’s responsibilities is developing dishes in-house and working with suppliers to
outsource specialty items for vegetarians. Everything marketed for this segment of customer is
vegan, making it suitable for all who choose not to eat animal products.
This year, Sarno is excited about an en croûte roast from Field Roast, Seattle, available at Whole
Foods stores nationwide for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The holiday loaf begins with “meat” made
from lentils and ancient grains. It is stuffed with cranberry, apple, hazelnuts, kale and herbs, and
wrapped in puff pastry. The product is one of several bake-off roasts sold by Field Roast.
This holiday season also brings a first-ever vegan appetizer to be sold at Whole Foods stores around
the country. It’s a pumpkin/almond/ricotta wonton made with cultured almond milk and pumpkin in
an ancient-grains wrapper. Produced at Kite Hill, Hayward, California, the wontons are about the size
of a crab rangoon and are flash-fried. “They can be used as a savory or a dessert,” Sarno says.
Desserts are important to vegetarians, Nicole Pederson believes. The chef/partner at Found
Kitchen and Social House, Evanston, Illinois, hired a pastry chef to add more desserts to her
vegetarian offerings, which include sorbets and fruit compotes with nuts.
A colorful holiday appetizer is made at FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar, Minneapolis, by
Jim Kyndberg, executive chef. The dish begins with pickled baby carrots and beets and includes
hazelnuts atop local tiny greens. Nonvegetarians can top the salad with blue cheese.
At The Wild Cow, Nashville, Tennessee, an appetizer that works well for holiday parties and
New Year’s Eve is the roasted corn and seitan chorizo nachos. Nick Davis is head chef/general
manager, and his menu is totally vegan. Most ingredients, including tofu and tempeh, are organic.
Housemade is the norm, except for the vegan, gluten-free desserts he buys from Vegan Vee, a
local bakery. These dairy-free desserts include an assortment of decorated cakes, pies, cupcakes
and other sweets.
A year-round favorite of Wild Cow customers is the grilled veggie burger. The housemade
soy-free black bean patty contains pumpkin and sunflower seeds and is served with tomato and
lettuce. Add pineapple coleslaw and organic barbecue sauce to make a picnic-style burger, and
for California-style, top the burger with avocado, sprouts and housemade ranch dressing. A good
holiday entree is sweet potato/seitan roast or seitan roast with a variety of other additions.
ON THE SIDE
Vegetarian and vegan roasts need sides just like traditional holiday center-of-the-plate offerings
do. “And they call out for gravy,” Sarno says. That’s why he recommends serving Yukon gold mashed
potatoes made with nondairy cashew/garlic cream or sweet potatoes whipped with maple syrup.
Other sides could include roasted vegetables, butternut squash, green bean casserole made with white
parsnip gravy, and roasted wild mushrooms with herbs.
For a special treat, Sarno suggests offering a cocktail of cranberry juice with whiskey, cranberries,
oranges and sugar. “It tastes like a Manhattan,” he says. The key to successful vegetarian menu
planning is to take the traditional and give it a twist, he adds.
OPPOSITE Root vegetable stew with
smoked tofu, garbanzo beans and
turmeric/coconut broth at Found
Kitchen and Social House.
get it here
Whole Foods Market chef Derek Sarno
suggests these vegetarian product
•;Beyond Meat, El Segundo, California
( beyondmeat.com), provides a variety
of meatless “meats.”
•;Field Roast, Seattle ( fieldroast.com),
offers a variety of products, including
burgers, roasts, cutlets and sausages,
as well as coconut cheese products
•;Gardein, Richmond, British Columbia
( gardein.com), offers a variety of meat
•;Kite Hill, Hayward, California
( www.kite-hill.com), part of Lyrical
Foods, offers plant-based cheeses