Thursday, November 23, 2006

I Filo Like Giving Thanks

It's been a long time since I cooked a turkey for Thanksgiving, and come this time of year, a number of people wonder what a vegetarian like me will have on the holiday menu.

You'll forgive me if I laugh. Granted, the turkey has become a traditional fixture on the Thanksgiving table, but since the holiday itself originated as a harvest festival, it makes perfect sense to me to fill the menu with all sorts of good vegetable dishes that celebrate our agricultural bounty.

In planning the holiday feast with my friend the Southern Belle (otherwise known as Beaker and Scooter's Mommy), we decided that though there would be a turkey breast for the omnivores, the rest of the dishes would include some of our favorite harvest vegetables: the Southern Belle's praline-topped sweet potato soufflé, a broccoli gratin, and one of my favorite festive vegetarian dishes, a vegetable filo roll.

As you know, I'm not afraid to work with filo dough, and this dish makes it even easier. Instead of layering the dough in a pan, the layers are stacked on a greased baking sheet and then rolled up. In between the layers of dough and olive oil, bread crumbs and cheese add texture and height, and sautéed vegetables plump up the middle.

The original recipe, found in the Moosewood Low-Fat Favorites cookbook, calls for carrots, red peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms, but I've found that the vegetable mixture can easily be adapted to what is available and in season. Today, broccoli added the vivid color to the mix, as well as a locally grown red onion and some fresh basil from my herb "garden." (I'd have added some shredded butternut squash, too, but I had plenty of filling.)

With such an abundance of vegetables, I had to take great care in rolling up the dough:

I ended up with a beautiful roll, though, brushed with olive oil, topped with the rest of the bread crumb mixture, and browned to perfection.

Come dinner time, my vegetable roll took a proud place on the table alongside the turkey and stuffing, and I'm pleased to tell you that we all had seconds, even with everything else we put away in our very full stomachs.

So if you're still wondering what a vegetarian might eat on America's Turkey Day, I can tell you: there's nothing quite so wonderful as lots of good, well-cooked vegetables.

And I'm thankful!


At 1/20/2008 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I just read your Thanksgiving recipe using phyllo dough and vegetable filling. I can hardly wait until March/April this year, when my vegan son and his girlfriend and I have a dinner to celebrate our birthdays. I don't often cook for him as he is a total vegan, no dairy, fish or poultry either. He doesn't wear leather either.

One time I outdid myself with a menu of wild rice casserole with onions, green bean casserole with creamed mushroom soup, made with soy milk, pear salad with lettuce and a marischino cherry on top with marischino cherry juice cooked with corn starch and dried apple slices crumbled on top. For dessert we had strawberry shortcake with biscuits, strawberries and for the whipped cream I used Dream Whip. My son appreciated it all, and was especially delighted with the Dream Whip, as he missed whipped cream on some desserts, and I had found something with no dairy.

He cooks a lot of Indian curry recipes, by the way.


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