As a vegetarian on Thanksgiving, you can take two separate routes. First there is the somewhat imposing Tofurkey route: You offer to bring a commercial fake meat product to sit awkwardly next to your host's long slaved-over bird, and you're the only one who eats it. This is not a good route.
Then there is the unassuming, don't-want-to-impose route. You remind your host that there are so many things on the table that you can eat! Brussels sprouts are your favorite vegetable. Mashes make you happy. Maybe you offer to bring a quinoa salad, the Rachel Green of potluck dishes (inoffensive, mostly likable, a bit trendy). And hey, there's always pie. You eat lots of pie.
Sometimes, though, the vegetarians want to do that thing that everyone else does on Thanksgiving: They want to slave over a dish that they can put in the center of the table. They want to walk into a dining room, causing heads to turn, holding a platter of something, anything really, that's big and warm and ready to eat and demands prime real estate on the table.
If you are a vegetarian who celebrates Thanksgiving, or you will be hosting one, I suggest that you do what I do, and make this layered root vegetable pie.
This pie takes time. It is comprised of layers. There are soft, sautéed mushrooms; technicolored roasted vegetables, of which you can take your pick; and fluffy, buttery, mashed sweet potatoes to blanket what's below them. Garnishes follow: pepitas, a sprinkle of spice.
You have to roast vegetables, mash vegetables, make pie crust. You need to peel many knobby things. But this work will pay off, in the form of a main dish that tastes exactly like Thanksgiving. Don't present it as a turkey alternative. Don't usher it into the room sheepishly. Sit it in the middle of your table, proudly, and give thanks.
Adapted from Daily Garnish
Serves 8 as a main course
For the pie crust
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cups butter
1 teaspoon sea salt
6 to 8 tablespoons cold water
For the filling
5 cups diced root vegetables (I like sunchokes, purple potatoes, carrots, and parsnips)
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons butter, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, minced
5 cups diced mushrooms (roughly 1 3/4 pounds)
1/3 cup red wine
1/2 cup vegetable stock
5 cups peeled and quartered sweet potatoes
1/2 cup whole milk
Photos by Eric Moran
This article originally appeared on Food52.com: For Vegetarians, on Thanksgiving: Root Vegetable Pie