Thanksgiving in L.A.

Here we are winding down on the year 2020. It has been 11 months of social distancing, catastrophes and no international travel. Despite all the disasters this year has thrown at me, I still remain with a smile on my face. I am truly happy and blessed that have the opportunity to work from my fabulous Mid-City home and I’m healthy. Although I may not be able to do all the traveling that my soul thirsts for and I am thankful to live in one the world’s most sought after travel destinations, Los Angeles. I am grateful to take advantage of the great weather and backdrop that defines Southern California.

Of course Thanksgiving and the remainder of this year’s holidays are going to be different than the normal. Most of the expected socialization and traditions will have to be postponed at least until the new year. Usually my California family on my mom’s side hosts a huge Thanksgiving pot luck where everyone brings their assigned dish and we all eat like kings and queens. I, like many others, will be celebrating at home with a much smaller crowd this year. California is the land of perpetual sun and produce. Being that it is November and I am still holding down the 213, I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to try some new, healthy, plant based recipes for Thanksgiving. 2020 has given me perspective and motivated me to put myself and my health first. I spent some time deciding on how I was going to be able to enjoy all the taste of the traditional food feast but keep it fresh and hearty. I came up with this menu below for my plant based Thanksgiving dinner. You can also find my step by step video and complete recipes below.



For the Lentil Loaf: Place the lentils in a large saucepan of cold water. Bring the water just to a boil over high heat. Carefully drain the boiling water and rinse the lentils. Meanwhile, in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat, bring the broth to a boil. Add the rice and return the liquid to a boil. Decrease the heat to low, cover the rice, and gently simmer without stirring for 10 minutes. Stir in the shallots, onions, carrots, bell pepper, celery and lentils. Cover and continue cooking without stirring until the rice and lentils are tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes longer. Turn off the heat. Uncover and fluff the rice with a fork. Cover and let stand for 5 more minutes.

Meanwhile the rice and lentils are cooking, make the greens.

For the greens: In a large pot or dutch oven heat up 2 tbsp. of olive oil on medium heat. Add finely diced onions and cook until fragrant and translucent, for approximately five minutes. Reduce heat to medium/low and add vegetable stock, chorizo, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Cover the pot and allow stock to simmer for 20 minutes. Add greens to the pot and place lid back on. Allow greens to cook down for additional 25-30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread butter/ olive oil (vegan option) over a 10 by 4 1/2 by 3-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, gently mix the lentil mixture, spinach, breadcrumbs, eggs/ flaxseed gel (vegan option), poultry seasoning, sage, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan.

Bake uncovered until the loaf is heated through and the top is starting to brown, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile the lentil loaf is baking, make the cranberry sauce glaze.

For the glaze: In a small saucepan on low heat, add cranberry sauce, juice of fresh squeezed orange, juice of fresh squeezed lemon, honey/ agave nectar (vegan option), two sprigs of thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. Cover the saucepan and allow sauce to simmer until sauce is heated through. Using hand or stand mixer, blend sauce until smooth. Remove sprigs of thyme. Allow glaze to cool and thicken slightly.

Once lentil loaf has browned on top, pour on cranberry glaze and cook for an additional five minutes. Allow to cool.

Turn greens off and remove plant based sausage. Allow to cool.

For the sweet potato tart:

Crust: In a large bowl mix together flour, sugar and salt. Add in vegan butter to the flour and combine using your hands to rub butter into flour until mixture is texture of wet sand. Next add enough flaxseed gel until the dough comes together in a ball and peels off the side of the bowl. Take the dough out of the bowl and lightly knead dough into a smooth disc. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Take dough out of the refrigerator. Let the dough rest for at least 20 minutes. Roll dough out into a 12″ diameter circle about 1/8″ thick. Place dough into 10″ tart pan and blind bake (cook dough weighed without filling) crust at 350F for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile making the sweet potato filling: Using a hand or stand mixer, in a large bowl whip together sweet potatoes, avocados, brown sugar, flaxseed gel, vanilla, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until complete combined and smooth. Spread filling evenly into tart pan over crust. Bake tart at 350F for 30-35 minutes. Allow tart cool in fridge until time for dessert. When breast to serve tart, top with coconut oil whipped cream or nice cream.

Devour and enjoy!

I hope you have a safe and fabulous Thanksgiving!

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