Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays that I enjoy celebrating, it brings my family together around the table. Last year I was blessed to have spent Thanksgiving with my family, this year I am fortunate to have hosted a Thanksgiving dinner at my house in Marrakech. It was a fabulous event that brought friends and strangers together around the table.
There was one request from one of the dinner attendees. Hey, Sahar can you make Thanksgiving vegan this year? Without giving it any thoughts, I said; sure I can. It was an amazing challenge that took few recipe practices before turning some of my traditional recipes to vegan. I was happy that I didn’t have to deal with a turkey this year, sigh!!!!
So I started with the traditional Thanksgiving trimmings or side dishes that required no animal products. Sweet potatoes, I can substitute the butter with an olive oil…no problem! A problem, sweet potatoes here are red on the outside but white on the inside, no yams here! Not necessarily a problem, I could’ve gotten away with serving white like a regular mashed potatoes, but I was hoping to get that orange color theme that we are all familiar with the Thanksgiving table. Pumpkin mixed with the sweet white potatoes was my solution, added some roasted fresh plums to give it that fall color, the taste was amazing!
Now for red color, no cranberries here but plenty of beetroots so fresh cooked beetroots with nothing added to it, just some roasted pine nuts to compliment it. I’m thinking about years ago when I use to buy that can of beets from the supermarket, the one that the beets are the same shape as the can. I am thinking how did I allow myself to serve that on my table? Well, those were the old days!
Now comes my centerpiece or the dish that will take the turkey place. First I thought of stuffing a big squash with quinoa, dried fruits, and nuts. I opted for roasted whole cauliflower as the option for the centerpiece main dish. It was so easy to prepare, sprinkle salt and pepper, drizzle oil all over it and roast till tender.
My biggest challenge was the re-creation of the green beans casserole. There was no way I was able to find cream of mushroom soup here, I sure am capable of making my own cream of mushroom soup from scratch. My first attempt was to try using coconut cream instead of regular milk, I am not a big fan of soy milk as many recipes call to substitute milk with soy milk. The of the coconut milk was not satisfying and the whole thing tasted and smelled like coconut. I then remembered my mother use to make this dish with cauliflower and Tahini sauce, I loved that dish growing up and I have made it few times before but never here in Morocco only for the fact that tahini is hard to find in Marrakech. So here is my vegan version of the traditional green beans casserole.
½ kg fresh green beans cleaned and cut into small pieces
I large onion diced small
2 tablespoon light olive oil
I small bag of black dried mushroom (available in most supermarkets in Marrakech) I know I should have a photo of the bag, but I don’t!
4 tablespoons tahini sauce diluted with 1/2 cup of water and a juice of a half lemon
1 cup of water
Salt and pepper
First, you need to soften the mushrooms, start by boiling water, put your dried mushrooms in a heatproof bowl, add hot water to it, cover and let it sit while you prepare the rest of your dish.
In a non-stick pot heat olive oil, sautee the onions until soft and translucent, add the clean green beans. Keep the green beans and onions cooking over low heat while you drain your mushrooms, chop the mushrooms into small pieces. Add the chopped mushrooms to the pot, add salt and pepper, add a cup of water, cover pot and let it cook for about 30 minutes.
Once the beans are cooked, add the tahini mixture and toss your beans well with the mixture. Let it sit for few hours before re-heating it for your guests or make it the night before and warm it before serving. The longer it sits, the better the flavor. Very creamy and delicious without sacrificing the taste and no one will know that it was tahini! One of my guests couldn’t believe it was vegan, she insisted that it tasted just like her grandma’s green beans casserole from when she was a child in Kentucky.
No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without a dessert! I wanted to stay away from pumpkin as I already used it in the sweet potatoes. I kept it simple with roasted persimmon; I cut the top of the persimmon off, sprinkle it with sugar and roasted in the oven for about 20 minutes. I made my famous Lebanese rice flour, spice pudding – I posted the recipe on Instagram recently, super easy to make- vegan and gluten-free. I served the pudding with the roasted persimmon and voila! We have a dessert.
I am thankful for all I have in my life, for all the blessing, for my friends and family and for having a place to call Home In Morocco!