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

Creamy Cauliflower Winter Soup

Creamy Cauliflower Winter Soup, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

This soup is pure gold, and by gold I mean absolutely a light delight, and by light delight I mean that it uses none of the usual suspects you can find in a creamy soup. So, on the side of ingredients that this soup does not use you will find cream, butter, and flour, and on the side of ingredients that this soup does use you will find cauliflower, green peas, yellow corn, vegetable bouillon cube, fresh thyme and almond yogurt. Yes, you read that right – six ingredients and you will be done!

The soup comes together in less than an hour and serves four to six people, and if you include on your holiday menu where lots of other goodies are being served as well, this recipe can easily be served to eight people! So, one head of cauliflower with couple of extras can really go a very long way.

All you need to do is wash and chop one large head of cauliflower, put the pieces into a large pot, pour in 3 cups of water, add the bouillon cube, cover, bring to boil and cook the cauliflower for fifteen minutes or so, until cooked through. Let the soup cool a bit – it does not need to be completely cold but you do need to be able to handle cauliflower and the broth safely. Purée the broth and the cooked cauliflower until completely smooth, with either an immersion blender or using a standing blender. I highly recommend getting an immersion (stick) blender, if you don’t already have one. This is a kitchen gadget I use all the time for soups, burgers, even cookies, so I am getting a lot of mileage out of mine.

Place the soup back on the stove top, add green peas and corn, and bring to gentle simmer. You can use either fresh or frozen peas and corn, or even canned. If using the canned vegetables do check the salt content and buy “no salt added” variety. The soup should simmer for about twenty minutes. Turn it off, and then stir in fresh thyme and plain, unsweetened almond yogurt. Serve warm, with a squeeze of lemon if you like (I do!!!), and a handful of oyster crackers or freshly toasted bread.

Creamy Cauliflower Winter Soup

What you’ll need:

1 large head of cauliflower

3 cups water

1 vegetable bouillon cube

1 1/2 cup green peas, frozen

1 1/2 cup yellow corn, frozen

1/2 cup almond yogurt, plain and unsweetened

10 springs of fresh thyme

What you’ll do:

  1. Cut the cauliflower florets out, wash them and chop roughly into bits. Place in a large pot, add water and the bouillon cube, cover with a lid, and bring to boil.
  2. Boil the cauliflower for 15 minutes or until fully cooked – cauliflower should be soft and falling apart.
  3. Purée the cauliflower together with the broth it cooked in with a stick (immersion) blender until smooth.
  4. Add frozen (fresh, or canned) peas and corn. If you are using canned vegetables make sure you use “no salt added” and make sure you drain the veggies well before adding them in.
  5. Bring the soup to gentle simmer, and leave it for 20 minutes or so. If you are using canned vegetables you can simmer for less, and 10 to 15 minutes should be plenty.
  6. Turn the heat off, then add thyme and yogurt, mix well and serve. This soup can be a meal on its own, with some freshly toasted bread, or a nice start for your next three course, festive winter holiday dinner!!!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017