Pardon the Turkey
Head To Tail Feathers: A Vegetarian Feast
When my sister was 12 she said no to her favorite dish: roast chicken. She had decided she was vegetarian. We all thought it would last only until the next roast chicken. It didn’t. In fact, by the time she was 17, the vegetarian turned vegan, a choice she failed to mention prior to coming for our Christmas dinner.
I had grown used to preparing a vegetarian dish for her, and admittedly enjoyed the challenge of creating something festive for her vegetarian feast. For this particular Christmas I had a spinach and beets terrine in the making, based on ricotta and eggs. To which she said: “Oh, I’m vegan now.”
Once a friend and I had dinner at a fine restaurant in Paris. She was a strict vegetarian and asked the waiter: Could the chef make her something vegetarian—no meat, no poultry, no seafood? I can still see his pencil frozen mid-air, uncertain how to carry on taking our orders or, more likely, how to convey that message to the chef. I don’t know what scenes took place in the kitchen but when our food came out, hers was a heaping plate of boiled vegetables. The chef didn’t even try.
When the festive table is sagging under the weight of meat-heavy indulgence, cooking for a vegetarian relative, friend or dinner guest should be fun. There are so many possibilities to “pardon the turkey.” Take a look at this seasonal delight of a meatless “turkey” and imagine all the tasty things you could use to make head to tail feathers: Roast that squash “neck”; blanch those dark green “tail feathers” and roll them with a stuffing of nuts and ricotta. Check out those legs: Mushrooms make a great main course stuffed or even simply pan-fried and sprinkled with toasted nuts, chopped fresh herbs, shaved parmesan and crushed garlic. Cook a vegetarian feast and before you know it, everyone will want to “pardon the turkey.”