Skipping the turkey: A Thanksgiving feast for vegans

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lentil loaf in mold
A holiday lentil loaf on a bed of spinach with pomegranate seeds

Debbie Devore is planning an elaborate feast for Thanksgiving -- and it won't include turkey. Instead, her guests will sit down to a dinner of lentil loaf, squash soup, maple-glazed Brussels sprouts, and, for dessert, an apple-cranberry gallete.

Debbie follows a vegan diet, which means she doesn’t eat any animal products. It’s distinguished from vegetarian because vegans also avoid eggs and milk. There’s no butter in the mashed potatoes and no whipped cream on the pie.

At her Almost Vegan Cooking School in Centennial, Debbie estimates that only 20-30 percent of people who sign up for classes are vegans.

"We get people who want to become vegan, or learn how to eat healthy. Sometimes they have health issues, sometimes they're athletes or young mothers," she says.

Ryan Warner visited Debbie and her assistant, Mallory Milam, at the school to learn how to prepare a gourmet vegan Thanksgiving feast.

Lentil loaf free formHoliday Lentil Loaf


  • 2 lb. butternut squash or winter squash variety
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup dry green lentils
  • 1 cup coarse bulger wheat or millet
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh thyme chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh oregano chopped
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup almonds or walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup miso diluted in 3 Tablespoons warm water
  • 1/2 Tablespoon sea salt plus 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper or season to taste.

Kitchen equipment:

  • parchment paper
  • bread loaf pan, or 8 1/2 in. sq. pan, or baking sheet


Soak 1 cup bulger wheat or millet (for gluten free) and 1 cup lentils with 3 cups water in a large sauce pan, overnight. Cook the following day over medium heat for about 25 minutes, until soft. Drain and season with 1/2 Tablespoon sea salt.


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and poke whole squash with a skewer a few times. Place in a pan and roast whole for 1 hour, or until inside is well done and skewer slides with little resistance.

  2. Allow to cool slightly and slice open, remove seeds and pull flesh from skin. Chop lightly.

  3. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees for lentil loaf. While squash is baking prep your veggies: dice onion, carrot and celery, mince garlic, mince fresh parsley, chop herbs; rosemary, thyme and oregano. Finally chop 1/2 cup of almonds or walnuts.

  4. Prepare your miso sauce 1/4 cup miso diluted in 3 Tablespoons of warm water.

  5. Measure 1 cup oats and set up a large mixing bowl.

  6. Over medium heat sauté onion, garlic, add celery, carrot, and fresh herbs to pan.

  7. Continue to heat until vegetables are crisp tender, about 9 minutes.

  8. In a large bowl combine squash chunks, vegetables, grains and lentils, parsley, almonds, 1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt , 1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper, and miso sauce. Using your hands to blend well. Taste for seasoning.

  9. Oil your pan first and then cover with parchment paper. Select a large loaf pan, square 8 1/2 inch pan, or free form your lentil meat on a baking sheet and shape into an oval mound with your hands.

  10. Bake at 375 degrees for one hour or less (45 minutes) depending on your choice of pans. The outside of your lentil loaf should be golden brown and the edges should be slightly crisp.

11. Allow to cool slightly and transfer to serving platter.

Platter decoration ideas: use fresh spinach leaves, pomegranate seeds and sliced almonds as a bed outline for your lentil loaf. Drizzle with a bit of gravy.

This recipe was adapted from Vegan Family Meals, Real Food for Everyone.

Gravy Homemade vegan gravy


  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup wheat flour or Bob’s Red Mill gluten free
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dry
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage, or 1 teaspoon dry
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flaxseeds (optional)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • fresh ground pepper (18 turns)


  1. Slightly brown nutritional yeast and flour in a dry skillet until a pale golden color is achieved, about five minutes over medium heat. Set aside.
  2. In a medium to large saucepan heat 2 Tablespoons of oil over medium heat and sauté onion until tender and slightly brown, about 8 minutes.

  3. Add herbs and garlic, whisk for a few seconds.

  4. Whisk in flour mixture and ground flaxseed.

  5. Continue to add water, tamari and pepper

  6. Bring the gravy to a simmer over medium-high heat and continue to whisk until thick and creamy. The process takes about 20 minutes. I have made this gravy the day before and rewarmed over medium heat stirring occasionally with great results.

Recipe adapted from Vegan Family Meals by Ann Gentry.

Brussel SproutsMaple Glazed Brussels Sprouts


  • 2 generous pounds Brussels Sprouts
  • 1/4 cup finely minced shallots
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 T. Dijon mustard
  • 2 T. Tamari sauce
  • 2 T. arrowroot powder or corn starch (organic)
  • Finely diced red bell pepper or pomegranate seeds for color
  • Chopped walnuts or pecans - just a few


  1. Remove stems from brussels sprouts, cut in half, bring water to a boil and drop brussels in boiling water for 6-7 minutes; drain.
  2. In a large frying pan or dutch oven sauté shallots in a small amount of water for 2-3 minutes.

  3. Add brussels sprouts to pan next and sauté for another 4 minutes

  4. Whisk together your sauce ingredients; maple syrup, mustard, Tamari, and arrowroot powder in a small bowl.

  5. Pour the maple syrup mixture over the brussels and cook for additional 2 minutes, until sauce thickens.

  6. Garnish with red bell pepper, carrot peel or pomegranate seeds and a few chopped nuts if desired.

Special Note:

If you are preparing this dish for company, precook the brussels in water, drain and refrigerate. Make the sauce ahead of time. Bring everything to room temperature and sauté just before serving.

Recipe adapted from Chef AJ Unprocessed.

cranberry apple galetteRustic cranberry-apple crumble galette

Pastry dough ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all - purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 8 Tablespoons cold vegan butter, 1 stick
  • 4 to 5 Tablespoons ice water


  1. Cut butter into very small pieces

  2. Put in freezer for 15 minutes or longer

  3. Coat butter in flour. Rub butter between thumb and forefinger and coat each piece completely in flour.

  4. Add ice cold water to the flour and fold it onto itself until a dough forms. In drier areas like Colorado more water may be necessary.

  5. Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for an hour or until firm. Crumble topping:

Crumble Topping:

  • 3/4 cup all - purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick vegan butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips until large clumps form, then stir in pecans. Chill until ready to use.

Fruit filling:

  • 2 pounds Gala apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (about 5)
  • 8 ounces fresh or ( not thawed) frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 stick vegan butter, cut into 1/2 -inch pieces.

Stir together the fruit filling mixture in a large bowl.


1. Lightly flour a flat work surface. Place the dough onto the work surface.

2. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour.

3. Using a rolling pin work the dough into a big circle 1/8th inch thick. Continue dusting

the work surface and dough with four and flip the dough to prevent sticking.

4. Transfer dough to pizza stone. If you would like to transfer the galette onto a serving platter, line pizza stone with parchment paper.

5. Mound filling in the middle of the dough.

6. Fold up about 2 inches of dough edge onto the filing and press overlapping pieces together.

7. Sprinkle crumble topping over filling. Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes.

8. Allow to cool before serving. easy pie crust recipe adapted for a vegan galette. Pie crust filling from