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Belle’s Thanksgiving Feast – Part 1



My Thanksgiving menu this year includes five gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free dishes.

Tempeh Braised with Port Wine and Fresh Figs
Vegan Crock Pot Risotto
Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Shallots & Pomegranate Arils
Roasted Green Bean Bundles
Honey Glazed Heirloom Carrots

In addition, the Professor will prepare a crown roast and apple sage stuffing for the carnivores/gluten-eaters. We will also have a basket of Pillsbury Crescent rolls which are sort of like a religious experience in both of our families. Shockingly, they are dairy-free which is a little bit scary. As my mom says, “Better living through chemistry!” Creepy.

I selected this menu for its simplicity. More than 75% of the meal preparation will be done the day before Thanksgiving so I get to enjoy my guests rather than sweat it out alone in the kitchen. I also wanted a menu that was visually beautiful: I love a plate with rich colors and textures. Last, but not least, I wanted a menu that I would enjoy.

As I have previously mentioned, Thanksgiving and the entire month of November has recently been overshadowed with sickness and sadness. Add to that the fact that I’m allergic to 90% of the traditional Thanksgiving spread and you have 5 foot 6 inches of annoyed lady who can’t wait to move on to Christmas.  I want this year to be different so for once I’m catering the majority of the meal to my needs. Everyone else will either love it or never eat at my house again!

Today I’ll post the two meatless mains and tomorrow I’ll post the three veggie sides. I needed my meatless mains to not require oven time since the roast, stuffing, beans and rolls will pretty much monopolize the oven. Solution: crock-pots  The tempeh will go into my 6 qt crock first thing in the morning and the risotto will go in the smaller crock 2 hours prior to dinner. The tempeh can also be prepped the night before meaning all I have to do at 7 a.m. is dump it in and set the timer.

Tempeh Braised with Figs and Port Wine


Photo fail: I blame hormones. After 8 hours in the “test kitchen” I ended up with zero photos. I don’t know what I was thinking. So here is a photo of the photo in the cookbook! This is a really beautiful dinner that will impress both your vegan and carnivore guests.

Adapted from The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester
Serves 4

Notes: 1.)  Last weekend I tested a double batch of this in my slow cooker and it worked beautifully.   2.)  I used flax tempeh for this for a little extra nutrition and flavor. I buy my tempeh at Whole Foods.  3.)  Fresh figs are key. You might have to hunt a bit for them but it is SO worth it. I found fresh figs at our Co-op.  4.)  I know exactly nothing about port. Our local spirit store offers at least 12 varieties of port ranging in price from $4 to $40. I went with a $7 bottle of basic red port and it worked quite well.  5.)  In my opinion Gaylord Hauser vegetable broth powder is the only powdered veggie broth that is acceptable  I find mine at the co-op and Whole Foods.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package (8 ounces) tempeh, cubed into bite-sized pieces
8 fresh figs, cleaned and cut into 6 wedges each
1/2 cup water
1 cup port wine
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes*
1 heaping teaspoon Gaylord Hauser vegetable broth powder*
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

The Day Before:
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onion until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute longer. Combine in an airtight container with the cut-up tempeh and figs and store in the fridge.

In The Morning:
Combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

To Serve:
Ladle tempeh over a mound of risotto and garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme and a sprinkle of kosher salt.

Total prep time: 10 minutes
Total cooking time: 6 to 8 hours

* Additions/edits I made to the original recipe.

Vegan Crock Pot Risotto

Adapted from The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester
Serves 6

Notes: This is delicious and always leaves me wondering how something without dairy and oil could be so rich and sticky! If you use long grain brown rice be diligent about stirring every 30 minutes and don’t be afraid to add more water if the rice starts to dry before the rice is tender.

3 cups water
3 heaping teaspoons Gaylord Hauser vegetable broth powder*
1 1/2 cups long grain brown rice*
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 heaping tablespoons nutritional yeast*
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

2-2 1/2 Hours Before Dinner:
Add the water, rice, garlic, broth powder and nutritional yeast to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the rice is cooked through but still al dente. Stir every 30 minutes an add extra water if needed. Salt and pepper to taste.

* Additions/edits I made to the original recipe.


The actual kitchen time required for these two dishes is under 30 minutes, plus occasional stirring of the risotto. The finished products, though, are so decadent and impressive that no one will guess they came from a crock!




Post a comment
  1. November 8, 2012


    But I’m sticking with turkey. 😀

    • November 8, 2012

      Ha! You should try it for a random meatless night at your abode then! It is really surprisingly good. I fed my test kitchen batch to three die-hard carnivores and everyone sang its praises 🙂

      • November 8, 2012

        LOL. We do eat vegan chili and sometimes make spaghetti without meat.

        I’ll be sure to try it, but not for Thanksgiving. 😉 Don’t want to miss out on my tryptophan induced coma. 😀

        • November 8, 2012

          Mmmmm, vegan chili… nom nom nom.

  2. 35life #
    November 8, 2012

    Oh this sounds so yummy! Especially the Brussels sprouts – love those! Sounds like you’ve got a great plan.

  3. babyfeat #
    November 8, 2012

    I just bought tempeh and didn’t know what to do with it. Perfect timing! Thanks. The recipes sound delicious

  4. November 8, 2012

    What size slow cooker do you use? And do you think you could do the risotto in a rice cooker rather than a slow cooker? This all looks so delicious!

    • November 8, 2012

      I used this slow cooker for both the double and single batch of tempeh.
      I really am not sure about a rice cooker for the risotto… can you stir the rice while it is cooking in a rice cooker? If you try it be sure to let me know how it works!

  5. stupidstork #
    November 8, 2012

    Yummmm! I want the risotto. I will accept this by mail.

  6. November 8, 2012

    Looks like Abby and I are having risotto for dinner Sunday night! That’s so much less labor intensive than the usual way.

  7. karaleen #
    November 8, 2012

    This sounds yummy. But we are die hard carnivores….however…we are gluten-free. We are having a honey baked ham….I was so happy to read they are gluten free. Our son will LOVE it!

    • November 8, 2012

      Risotto goes with ham! 🙂 You know, honey baked ham is one of the few things I miss about my carnivore childhood!

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