Fully Plant Based Holiday Meal Ideas

It is that time of the year where families and friends gather around the table to break bread. Although it is a wonderful tradition, many holiday dishes consist of meat or animal products. Loved ones who follow stricter diets are not always given a second thought and can subsequently feel excluded. Today we share some dishes that the whole family can enjoy without realizing it is a vegan dish. By simply substituting a few dishes you can elevate the flavors of your meals and ensure that everyone has something to eat. Come back on Wednesday for Enji’s top 5 desserts to serve as well.



Cranberry Salsa

This salsa is the perfect seasonal appetizer. It is sweet and tangy, and no one will questions why you decided to make such a festive and delicious appetizer. It is super easy to make, requires no special ingredients, and has minimal effort. If you have a blender and little time, then this salsa is for you. Special thank you to Favorite Family Recipes for this amazing image and recipe.


1 package fresh whole cranberries, not canned

1/2 c. honey

1 Tbsp. lime juice

1 jalapeno with seeds removed

1 bunch cilantro

1 bunch green onions

1 tsp. cumin



Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor.

Pulse a few times, until ingredients are in small bits, but not completely blended together.

Serve with crackers or chips, cream cheese also pairs nicely.

You can also serve as a relish over meats.




 Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

This soup will be the highlight of your feast or party. It brings classic fall flavors to the table and invites everyone in with a warm hug that envelops their taste buds. This soup is perfect as an appetizer or on a cold day by the fireplace. The sweetness of the squash is perfectly balanced with the tartness from a granny smith apple. These flavors are sure to have your guests wanting more. Hats off to the Sweet Pea Chef for this inspiring soup and it’s recipe.


3 acorn squashes through stem, sliced in half and seeds removed

1 tsp kosher salt plus more to taste

1 tsp ground black pepper plus more to taste

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 carrots chopped

1 granny smith apple cored and chopped

1 shallot chopped

1/2 yellow onion chopped

1/2 red onion chopped

1/2 tsp dried ginger

1/4 tsp dried sage

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp ground allspice

4 cups vegetable stock



Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

Lightly sprinkle with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Place squash, cut-side-down, onto baking sheet. Roast in oven for 45-50 minutes, or until flesh is tender and easily pierced. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Once cool, remove flesh from skin by using a spoon and scooping out the flesh. Discard skin and set flesh aside.

In a large, deep pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add carrots, apple, shallot and onions and sauté until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Once tender, add ginger, sage, cayenne, allspice, squash flesh and vegetable stock. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Remove pot from heat and puree mixture, either with an immersion blender (best thing ever), a blender (in batches) or a food processor.

Once pureed, season with any additional salt or pepper to taste. Garnish with thinly sliced red onion or apples, if desired.



Side Dishes

Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad with Meyer Lemon and Pomegranate

This refreshing salad is super easy to assemble and invites creativity. Swap spinach or arugula for the kale, add some thinly sliced apples for a tangy taste, or whatever you want, this salad is a crowd pleaser no matter what. As a bonus you don’t have to worry about this salad wilting, the Brussel sprouts can be kept at room temperature for hours without getting soggy. It also adds a light refreshing taste to all the carb heavy dishes at dinner. Turnip the Oven created this breath of fresh air.


For the salad

1-pound Brussels sprouts

1 cup thinly sliced radicchio

1 cup stemmed and thinly sliced kale

1 cup pomegranate seeds

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup toasted nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pecans)


For the dressing

1/4 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (about 2 small lemons) plus the zest of one lemon

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper



Holding each Brussels sprout by the stem, slice into very thin slices with a mandolin or sharp knife. (You should have about 6 cups.) Toss in a bowl with the radicchio, kale, half the pomegranate seeds, cranberries, and nuts.

Combine the Meyer lemon juice, zest, olive oil, shallot, maple syrup, and mustard in a small jar (like an old jam jar). Season with salt and pepper. Seal the jar and give it a good shake.

Pour half the dressing over the salad and toss to coat evenly. Let the salad stand for 1 hour at room temperature or 2 to 3 hours in the refrigerator. Toss with the remaining dressing and sprinkle with the remaining pomegranate seeds just before serving.




Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Brown Butter Sage Sauce

This twist on classic gnocchi is wonderful. Your guests will be begging for the recipe. This sweet and savory comfort food is perfect for those chilly get togethers. Although it takes a bit more effort than our previous dishes, it is well worth the amazing taste and praises you will receive. Sage and squash are two holiday flavors that always please. This recipe is provided by Foodal.


2 cup sweet potato puree *

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3 cup flour plus extra for dusting

1/2 cup vegan butter

1/2 cup fresh sage leaves chopped


1 cup shredded Pecorino cheese for garnish



Combine sweet potato puree with salt, nutmeg, and pepper. Add flour by the 1/2 cup, mixing well after each addition, until the dough comes together to resemble a pasta dough. Working it by hand is the best way to gauge this. Once you have a soft, elastic dough, divide it into six equal portions.

Fill a large stockpot with water and a handful of salt. Place on the stove over high heat, and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, on a floured surface and with floured hands, roll each of the six portions into logs about 1/2 inch in diameter and 7-9 inches in length. Use a floured knife to slice the logs into 1-inch-long pillows and press them with a fork for decoration if you like.

By this point, the water should be boiling. Once it is, reduce the heat so the water’s at a simmer and drop half of the gnocchi (about two dozen) inside. You can expect them to sink to the bottom, but run a spoon through the water to keep them from sticking to the pan.

In about five minutes, once the gnocchi float to the top of the water, give them another minute and then, using a slotted spoon, remove them to a plate. Repeat the process with the remaining gnocchi.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a saucepan on another burner, melting it and adding the chopped sage. Keep on the heat until the butter darkens and smells nutty, then lower the heat.

Place the first batch of gnocchi in the pan, rolling them around for a minute or two to coat with butter, then remove them to a plate. Repeat with the second batch.

Top gnocchi with grated Pecorino and serve warm. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Makes about 48 gnocchi; Serves two to three large portions or four moderate portions.

In lieu of the butter sauce, you could just drizzle the boiled gnocchi with olive oil and Pecorino—my in-laws gave us a bottle of rosemary olive oil for Christmas that was practically made for this—but it’s hard to beat the nutty taste of browned butter.

*How I make my sweet potato puree: Preheat oven to 375F. Slice sweet potatoes in half and rub cut side and outer skins with oil. Place on baking sheet, cut side down, and bake until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork. Let cool and scoop the flesh into a food processor. Pulse to puree, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed. All set!

Also, try grinding your own nutmeg. This is a spice that brings out all of its flavors when freshly ground.



Main Dishes

Whole roasted cauliflower

It is a holiday tradition in most families to serve a protein as a main dish, and we would hate to replace family traditions. We suggest that instead of replacing your entire protein, you simply have an additional main dish to encourage inclusion. This hearty roasted cauliflower is a recipe nobody will forget. Hearty and satisfying it will make sure that no one is left feeling hungry. Thank you to Jamie Liver who published the recipe


4 cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 a small bunch of fresh thyme

olive oil

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, zest and juice of

1 large cauliflower, (1kg) with outer leaves left on

4 tablespoons dry sherry

1 x 400 g tin of plum tomatoes

40 g flaked almonds

1/2 a bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley

extra virgin olive oil



Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.

Peel the garlic, then add to a pestle and mortar with the paprika and half the thyme leaves. Bash well to a rough paste, then muddle in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season. Zest the lemon into a separate bowl and set aside.

Trim the outer cauliflower leaves. Trim away and discard the stalk so the cauliflower can sit flat, then cut a cross into the base. Rub all over with the paprika paste, then place in a medium casserole pan. Drizzle over the sherry and squeeze the lemon juice on top. Cover and pop in the hot oven for around 1 hour 20 minutes, or until tender, removing the lid for the final 20 minutes.

Take the pan out of the oven, then pour in the plum tomatoes, tearing or slicing them up into chunks. Sprinkle over the lemon zest and pick over the remaining thyme leaves. Return the pan to the oven for a further 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is golden.

Meanwhile, place a medium frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the almonds and toast gently for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden, then leave to cool. Once ready, take the pan out of the oven. Scrunch over the toasted almonds, then pick, roughly chop, and scatter the parsley leaves on top. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, then carve up and serve with pilaf rice and steamed greens, or as part of a big spread.



Glazed Lentil Walnut Apple Loaf

Don’t knock it till you try it. This is one of the most filling and savory dishes you can possibly make. Filled with protein packed lentils this loaf will fill you up without making you feel heavy. The crisp apples and crunchy walnuts add a satisfying texture to the soft lentils. And an extra layer of flavor is added to this recipe when the sweet glaze is added to the mix. Serve this alongside your traditional protein to ensure that everyone at your table has something to enjoy. This creative protein alternative comes from OH She Glows, who has recently revised her recipe and included a couple new tricks from her own experience.


1 cup uncooked green lentils

1 cup walnuts, finely chopped and toasted

3 tbsp. ground flax + 1/2 cup water

3 garlic cloves, minced

1.5 cups diced sweet onion

1 cup diced celery

1 cup grated carrot

1/3 cup peeled and grated sweet apple (use a firm variety)

1/3 cup raisins

1/2 cup oat flour

3/4 cup breadcrumbs

2 tsp fresh thyme (or 3/4 tsp dried thyme)

salt & pepper, to taste (I use about 3/4 tsp sea salt + more Herbamare)

red pepper flakes, to taste

Balsamic Apple Glaze:

1/4 cup ketchup

1 tbsp. pure maple syrup

2 tbsp. apple butter (or unsweetened applesauce in a pinch)

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 325F. Rinse and strain lentils. Place lentils into pot along with 3 cups of water (or veg broth). Bring to a boil and season with salt. Reduce heat to medium/low and simmer, uncovered, for at least 40-45 minutes. Stir frequently & add touch of water if needed. The goal is to over-cook the lentils slightly (see pictures in post). Mash lentils slightly with a spoon when ready.

Toast walnuts at 325F for about 8-10 minutes. Set aside. Increase oven temp to 350F.

Whisk ground flax with water in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sautee the garlic and onion for about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Now add in the diced celery, shredded carrot and apple, and raisins. Sautee for about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Grease a loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Press mixture firmly into pan. Whisk glaze ingredients and then spread half on top of loaf. Reserve the rest for a dipping sauce.

Bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes, uncovered. Edges will be lightly brown. Cool in pan for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.