Holiday meals don’t need to be swimming in canned soup and layers of cheese in order to be tasty and festive. These fruit and veggie forward dishes are nutritious and delicious and also will please family and friends with unique dietary needs and desires. Try one of these recipes from my own vegetarian kitchen that are special enough for your dinner table, yet so yummy you won’t even miss the meat… or the fried onions.
Roasted Acorn Squash with Apricot Walnut Stuffing
2 acorn squash
2 T olive oil
¼ cup maple syrup or honey
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
¼ C butter or ghee (or your favorite oil)
1 package (12 oz.) meatless sausage (Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage or Earth Grown Meatless Sausage), chopped into crumbles
1 C walnuts, chopped
½ C dried apricots, chopped
2 T fresh rosemary, chopped
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
First, wash the squash and cut it in half. Then scoop out the seeds. Set them aside to use later.
Place each squash half on a baking sheet cut side up and brush with olive oil and half of the maple syrup, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes or until fork-soft and lightly browned.
In a colander, wash the seeds and fish out the flesh. Dry the seeds off and spread them out on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and heavily salt it. Place in the oven to roast for about 30 minutes or until toasty.
While the squash and seeds are cooking, melt the butter in a skillet and add the walnuts and apricots and the remaining maple syrup. Cook over medium heat a few minutes until lightly browned and caramelized. Remove from skillet.
Use the same skillet and remaining butter and cook vegetarian sausage crumbles until toasty. Then mix nuts and apricots back in, along with chopped rosemary. Stir to combine. When the squash are fully cooked, spoon the sausage/nut mixture into the squash, filling each up. Serve over brown or wild rice or quinoa and sprinkle with toasted squash seeds. Add a sprig of rosemary to the top for a pretty garnish.
Asparagus with Warm Citrus Vinaigrette
1 bunch asparagus
1 T olive oil
1 T fresh squeezed orange juice
1 T honey or agave
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Zest of ½ an orange
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Wash asparagus and trim off woody ends. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes until asparagus begins to become a bit charred.
While it’s roasting, prepare your dressing. Combine olive oil, orange juice, honey, Dijon, orange zest and salt in a small bowl and whisk until emulsified.
Place asparagus on a serving platter and drizzle vinaigrette over top. Garnish with a touch more orange zest over top and orange slices on the side.
3 Bosc pears
½ C rolled oats
¼ C pecans, chopped
1 T pepitas (or pumpkin seeds)
3 T maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 T butter or coconut oil
Greek vanilla yogurt, vanilla ice cream or coconut milk ice cream (optional)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Wash the pears and slice them in half. Use a spoon or a melon baller to scoop out the seeds to create a small indentation in the pear. Slice a small piece from the back of the pear so that it lays flat on the baking sheet. Place the pears on a baking sheet and brush with butter or coconut oil and sprinkle with cinnamon.
In a small bowl, combine rolled oats, pecans, pumpkin seeds, 2 Tbsp. maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt. Mix well. Spoon granola onto a greased baking sheet. (You could even make extra to use for breakfast.)
Place the pears and the granola in the oven and cook for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and the pears softened. Remove both from the oven.
Spoon a bit of the granola on top of the pear (into the area you spooned out). Drizzle the pears with one more Tablespoon of maple syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Serve with a dollop of yogurt or ice cream for an extra special treat.
Ashley Weingart is the founder of Perfectly Imperfect Produce, a fruit and vegetable grocery delivery program in Northeast Ohio working to reduce food waste, improve health and end hunger. Read more about the program and find additional healthy recipes at perfectlyimperfectproduce.com. When Ashley’s not running the company, she’s running after her three children (or cooking for them) where she resides in Chagrin Falls.