Sunday Morning Book Review: Vegan Holiday Cooking

Vegan Holiday Cooking cover
Reprinted with permission from Vegan Holiday Cooking by Kirsten Kaminski, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. Photo credit: Kirsten Kaminski

Holidays – gatherings of family and friends full of high spirits (and often actual spirits) and joy, occasional awkwardness, sometimes even friction and frustration. Although they come and go, ebb and flow year round, winter is the time when many of these gatherings come in quick succession for some of us. In the US, Halloween (end of October), is quickly followed by Thanksgiving (end of November), quickly followed by winter holidays of a religious and non-religious kind that stretch into January. That’s a lot of get togethers!

And each one of these holidays comes with a traditional feast – a huge meal to share and enjoy. What’s on the menu varies from a holiday to a holiday, and from one family to the other. What doesn’t vary as much is the dominance of meat in these meals. In many cultures (Serbian for example), religious people observe lent for six weeks before Christmas Day (January 7th), where the only animal food they are permitted to eat is honey and fish. They break the lent on January 7th usually with a pig roast! And this repeats for Easter, when the lent is broken on Easter Sunday with lamb roast.

With similar holiday food attitudes entrenched in many cultures, it becomes very difficult to be a plant-based eater over the holidays. My social media feeds are filled with people either frustrated about the lack of vegan options during the holidays, or anxious about social penalty that they will have to pay for not fitting in. Plus: with many gatherings now expecting you to bring food to share, people on plant-based diets often wonder what to bring that others will enjoy!

I am first to admit that some vegan recipes include ingredients that I’ve never encountered before I switched to plant-based diet, so I can appreciate that if I was to tell someone that they are eating nutritional yeast or flax meal, they may look at me funny. That’s why I try to keep my shared holiday meals simple, and based on common ingredients. This is probably the reason why I enjoyed the stuffing recipe below – it’s simple, it’s rustic and it’s appropriate to bring to any holiday gathering. (For another stuffing recipe option that includes apples, mushrooms and chestnuts see here.)

The recipe comes courtesy of a recently published cookbook “Vegan Holiday Cooking” by Kirsten Kaminski, creator of The Tasty K, a food and travel blog. Kirsten has assembled a nice collection of 60 festive recipes that are made to impress. They look great, they sound inviting, and they are prefect for sharing. She includes everything you need to host a party – ideas for appetizers, soups, main course, drinks and, of course, desserts, lots of them!

May of the recipes in this cookbook are things that people expect to see served at the holiday table, like the stuffing – but they’ve been reimagined and upgraded to fit a more modern palette, and to incorporate only plant-based ingredients. That is not to say that there isn’t any indulgence to be had – quite the opposite! Here, again a little indulgence goes a long way, and I appreciate how Kirsten balances a lot of good for you foods, with just a bit of naughtiness. One of the recipes I made for our Thanksgiving feast this year was her Mushroom Bourguignon, and red wine (which I view as a bit on a naughty side) made all the difference. It was delicious!

All in all, “Vegan Holiday Cooking” is a helpful cookbook to have a around year-round. Enojy!

Sourdough Bread Stuffing

Reprinted with permission from Vegan Holiday Cooking by Kirsten Kaminski, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. Photo credit: Kirsten Kaminski


This classic Thanksgiving side dish is incredibly easy to make yet full of vegan-friendly flavor. It has a subtle zing in every bite and is very hearty, satisfying and oh so filling! Stuffing is such a popular dish that it’s usually the first one to run out at the holiday table, so make sure
to pile on enough of this “just like grandma used to make” stuffing!


YIELD: 6 to 8 servings

8 cups (350 g) sourdough bread, cubed (or any other bread)

3 tbsp (42 g) vegan butter or 3 tbsp (45 ml) olive oil

1 medium white onion, roughly chopped

2 to 3 medium ribs celery, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp (3 g) finely chopped fresh sage

1 tbsp (3 g) finely chopped fresh thyme

2 cups (150 g) thinly sliced cremini mushrooms

2 to 3 cups (480 to 720 ml) vegetable broth

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Grease a 7×10–inch (18×25–cm) baking dish.

Spread the bread cubes out evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Toast the bread in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, flipping it halfway (being careful not to let it burn). Increase the oven temperature to 375°F (190°C) and place the toasted bread cubes in a large bowl.

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté until they are translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, sage and thyme and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and a
splash of the broth and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and their moisture has evaporated somewhat. Add the mixture to the bread cubes and combine with a spoon.

Transfer the bread mixture to the prepared baking dish. Pour the remaining broth over the bread mixture and carefully combine, until the bread is just saturated—not too wet and not dry. Season with the salt and black pepper and bake for 30 minutes, until the top of the stuffing is crunchy. Let the stuffing cool slightly and serve.

Reprinted with permission from Vegan Holiday Cooking by Kirsten Kaminski, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. Photo credit: Kirsten Kaminski
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this cookbook and no other compensation for this post. The views expressed above are my own and authentic.

Vegan Zucchini Fruitcake

Vegan Fruitcake with Zucchini, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Fruitcake has a bad reputation. Nobody loves it, yet puts up with it because of the tradition and whatnot. And although some of you may find it hard to believe, fruitcake can be really delicious!

In this veganized version of the milenia-old (oh, yes – fruitcake dates back to Ancient Rome) tradition, I skip the butter, extra sugar, and eggs and go really wild with dried fruits. I combined everything I could get my hands on – figs, dates, cranberries, apricots, prunes, and pineapple – with a nice selection of spices featuring orange and lime zest, as well as almond extract, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. I also used some finely grated, almost sauced, zucchini as a binder, and roughly chopped walnuts and red maraschino cherries for some added texture.

The key to this cake is soaking the fruit and although you could soak the fruit in rum, as is the custom, I soaked mine in water to avoid being too over the top with the flavors and the kick to the system this cake delivers. Although most of the alcohol would evaporate as the cake bakes, I wanted to keep this one rated G so that both kids and adults can enjoy as much of it as they like and decided to skip the rum altogether. At the end, the most important thing is to let the fruit soak in liquid (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) because that will help keep the cake moist and soft.

This fruitcake is pretty rich and filling. It makes for a lovely treat, as well as an excellent breakfast choice. It is definitely one more thing to add to your list of vegan Holiday treats and traditions, like the Peppermint Bark and the Gluten-free Sweet Potato Pancakes. If you are wondering whether this cake can be made gluten-free, the answer is yes, absolutely! Just use your favorite all-purpose gluten-free flour and go for it.



Vegan Fruitcake with Zucchini

What you’ll need:

1 zucchini, small (1 1/2 cup grated)

5 medjool dates

15 dried apricots

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2/3 cup dried pineapple

5 dried figs

1/3 cup prunes

1 cup maraschino cherries, drained and roughly chopped

1 cup flour

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1 tablespoon almond extract

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

Zest of 1 orange

Zest of 1 lime


What you’ll do:

  1. Combine all the dried fruits in a large bowl, cover with warm to hot water, and let soak for 30-60 minutes. Drain the fruit, pat dry to remove excess water, and chop to bits and pieces of different size. Place into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
  3. Grate the zucchini using a fine grater or a food processor. The finer the grating the better!
  4. Add the zucchini and the rest of the ingredients to the chopped fruit and mix well until everything is combined.
  5. Line the bread pan, or any other baking pan (I used a spring form pan because it makes getting the cake out a breeze), with some parchment paper. Pour in the fruitcake batter and spread around to form a 1.5 in (3-4 cm) thick layer. The cake will not rise much, and it will be quite moist, so don’t make it too thick as your surface will burn while you wait for your center to bake.
  6. Bake for 35 min or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake stand for at least 15 minutes, ideally an hour, before cutting and serving. Serve with some vegan whip cream, ice cream, or with a glass of eggnog, and enjoy the season!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Chestnut and Mushroom Stuffing for the Best Thanksgiving Dinner Ever

Chestnut and Mushroom Stuffing, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

If you think you can’t live without the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with the roasted turkey, mashed potatoes full of butter, the stuffing made with rich sausage, gravy made from turkey fat, sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows, corn bread with cheese, pumpkin pie with vanilla ice cream, and so on and so forth, let me reassure you – you can give this all up, and replace it with an amazing and creative plant-based feast that celebrates the season and gives thanks for the bountiful harvest, our friends and families, and our beautiful and extraordinary planet.

I put together this menu as a testament that food can be colorful, flavorful, aromatic, and delicious without major time and money investment. This entire menu will cost you far less than the regular Thanksgiving feast, and instead of leaving you tired and sluggish, it will leave you filling energized and elevated… and ready for whatever Black Friday may bring!

Joking aside, this menu is meant for entertaining and for making a huge impression. As any well-structure feast, my Thanksgiving offerings begin with appetizers. And since the meal is supposed to go on for an hour or more, and includes two dessert options, I am going light with the appetizer spread. My tray includes couple of different types of olives, Roasted Beets Hummus, Baked Almond Feta Cheese, and pita chips. You can make the pita chips by slicing some pita bread into wedges, spraying them with some oil or cooking spray and letting them toast for couple of minutes until golden-brown. Or you can get them at a supermarket, like I did on this occasion.

Do remind your guests to take it easy with the appetizers, because what’s coming next is the most amazing soup ever, the Creamy Cauliflower Winter Soup that owes it’s creaminess entirely to puréed cauliflower. The soup is white with slight gold overtones, which in my view frames the season perfectly. Plus corn and peas give this soup some substance and fresh thyme sets the stage for herbs to come.

Creamy Cauliflower Winter Soup, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Main course is a real harvest celebration, with fireworks of flavors and all the trimmings working together to feed the bodies and the souls. The main dish is a lovely Harvest Roast with cubed sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots, parsnips, apples and squash, lightly oiled and flavored with herbs of the season. Complementing the Harvest Roast is the Chesnut and Mushroom Stuffing (recipe below). Add to that a protein rich Quinoa with Roasted Cranberries and Pistachios and you have your self an amazing feast!

Quinoa with Roasted Cranberries and Pistachios, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Last but not the least, the meal ends with a glass of Fizzy Cranberry Mocktail, and two desserts that pay homage to the traditionally served pies, pumpkin and apple. The desserts I feature are Pumpkin Truffles, inspired by the traditional pumpkin pie recipe and spices that go into it, and Pecan Apple Baklava with Orange Maple Syrup, which combines the best of pecan and apple pies into one ultra scrumptious dessert.

Have a thankful, wonderful, healthy and delicious Thanksgiving feast!!!



Chestnut and Mushroom Stuffing

What you’ll need:

1 yellow onion, finely diced

6 stalks celery, finely diced

2 Granny Smith (or another variety of tart) apples, diced

10 oz. (285 g) mushrooms, finely chopped (white, oyster, shiitake, baby bella – any combination of these will work)

10 oz. (285 g) chestnuts, boiled and chopped

4-6 slices of hearty sourdough bread (depending on the size of the slices)

Fresh sage, 4 leaves, chopped

Fresh thyme, 8 springs, pulled

Fresh rosemary, 2 springs, whole

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. One day prior to making the stuffing cut the bread into medium sized cubes, and leave them uncovered to dry. If you forget to do this a day ahead, don’t worry – you can cube the bread and put it in the oven to roast/toast. 10 minutes at 350 F (175 C) should be enough.
  2. Next day, place a large skillet over the medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onions, celery and apple. Mix well and let it sauté with occasional stirring for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms and two whole springs of rosemary (no need to chop, you’ll pull them out at the end), and continue sautéing for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chopped chestnuts, mix well to incorporate, and cook for another 10 minutes.
  5. Add chopped sage and thyme, mix in the bread cubes, and once everything is incorporated well transfer the stuffing to a large baking dish.
  6. Cover the stuffing with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350 F (175 C), then remove the foil, bring the temperature to 400 F (190 C) and bake for another 10 minutes.
  7. Let the stuffing cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. The leftover stuffing, if you have any, can be an easy lunch on its own!!!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017