Friday Five: Vegetarian Thanksgiving Dishes

As a vegetarian, Thanksgiving isn't exactly my favorite meal. My family is a very meat and potatoes family, so besides the turkey and ham tons of the side dishes have bacon or are made with chicken stock! I usually put together a meal of a few side dishes, heavy on the rolls, but I do love the family experience and still really enjoy the holiday. If you are like me, consider volunteering to bring a side and make a hearty dish that most people can take a small portion of, but you can load your plate! 

Warm Israeli Cous Cous Salad

This meal has become a weeknight staple at my house- we use whatever vegetables are in season or we have on hand to make a fast, easy and delicious meal. We also mix up the dressing, so feel free to try out your own favorite vinaigrette! 


  • 1 cup Israeli Couscous (aka Pearl couscous)
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Apple vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 cups Fennel-Roasted Fall Vegetables


  1. Bring 1 1/4 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the couscous and stir well. Cover, turn the heat to low and let simmer for 8 minutes. Drain and place in a large bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the honey, oil, vinegar, pepper, and salt to form a smooth dressing.
  3. Add the roasted vegetables to the couscous bowl. Drizzle the dressing over the top and toss well to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from The Wanderlust Kitchen. 

Butternut Squash & Spinach Lasagne

For the perfect meal that is hearty enough for vegetarians to stock up on for the main course, but still simple enough for a turkey day side dish, look no further than this delicious seasonal lasagne. 


Butternut Squash Filling:

  • 2 cups butternut squash puree (about half of squash)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk (or more, if needed)
  • 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Spinach Filling:

  • 1 cup cooked spinach (8 oz uncooked)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pepper, to taste

Other Ingredients:

  • 10 oz lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 1 and 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese (or more)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (on top)
  • Italian seasoning
  • Paprika
  • Basil


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Butternut Squash Filling:
    1. For this filling, you will need to have pre-cooked butternut squash puree. Using food processor, combine 2 cups of butternut squash puree with Ricotta cheese, milk, salt and nutmeg. Add more milk if needed (to make the butternut squash filling very creamy). Mix very well, taste and add more salt, if needed.
  3. Spinach Filling:
    1. Combine spinach, Ricotta cheese, mozzarella, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix, taste, and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
  4. Cooking Lasagne Noodles:
    1. Bring a very large pot of water to boil, and cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions. Rinse in cold water, drain. Using knife, trim noodles to fit your baking dish (if necessary)
  5. Lasagne Assembly:
    1. Prepare a baking dish - I used a casserole dish 11 inches x 8.5 inches x 3 inches deep. Grease the lasagna dish lightly with olive oil spray. Spread 1/3 of butternut squash filling on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle lightly with mozzarella cheese. Top with cooked lasagna noodles without overlapping (I used 3 noodles).
    2. Spread half of spinach filling over the noodles. Top lightly with Mozzarella cheese. Top with cooked noodles.
    3. Spread another layer (1/3) of butternut squash mixture, then sprinkle lightly with Mozzarella cheese. Top with cooked noodles.
    4. Spread the remaining half of spinach filling over the noodles. Top lightly with Mozzarella cheese. Top with the final layer of cooked noodles.
    5. Spread a generous amount of butternut squash filling (the remaining 1/3) over this final layer of noodles, sprinkle with grated Parmesan and remaining mozzarella cheese (about 1/2 cup of mozzarella). Generously sprinkle the cheese with Italian seasoning, paprika, basil.
    6. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 min. Remove foil and bake additional 10 minutes.

Recipe from Julia's Album.

Butternut Squash Apple Bruschetta 

Before the real feast begins everyone needs a delicious appetizer, and this butternut squash apple bruschetta is the perfect hand-held snack to eat while catching up with relatives. 


  • 2 cups diced butternut squash
  • 1 cup diced apples
  • 6 tbsp olive oil (divided)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (divided) 
  • 1 tsp black pepper (divided)
  • 8 slices french bread
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 8 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp balsalmic glaze


  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  2. Toss the butternut squash and apples with 2 tbsp olive oil, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, ½ tsp kosher salt and ½ tsp black pepper.
  3. Place in an even layer on a baking sheet and into the oven for 15 minutes.
  4. While the squash and apples are roasting, brush the sliced bread with 2 tbsp olive oil, set aside.
  5. Combine the ricotta cheese with the remaining ½ tsp black pepper and ½ tsp kosher salt, set aside.
  6. In a small skillet, add the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat.
  7. Add the garlic and sage leaves, saute for 1-2 minutes.
  8. Remove from the heat and toss with the squash and apples when they come out of the oven.
  9. Place the slices of bread into the oven for 4-5 minutes, or until toasted to your liking.
  10. Remove the bread from the oven and top with the ricotta cheese, then the roasted squash and apple mix.
  11. Drizzle with the balsamic glaze.

Recipe from Whitney Bond. 

Fall Rotini Pasta Salad 

This salad is not only perfect for a (hearty) Thanksgiving side dish, but also a great complement, or main dish, at a regular weeknight dinner. It only looks fancy.


  • 1 lb Rotini pasta
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 10 oz frozen and cubed butternut squash
  • 1 lb brussels sprouts, top trimmed, and halved
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 6 oz spinach
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 6 oz feta cheese, crumbled or cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts

For the Sauce:

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 large shallots, sliced into half moons
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped marjoram leaves, stems removed
  • ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt


  1. Cook the Rotini pasta in boiling water according to the package instructions. When ready, drain and rinse the pasta under cold water. Set aside.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a large cast iron. Add the butternut squash. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the butternut squash is cooked through. Season with a little salt. Transfer the butternut squash to a dish and set aside for now.
  3. Now, if needed, add 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to the same cast iron skillet. Make sure the oil is hot. Now add the brussels sprouts, cut side down, and cook on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Turn the brussels sprouts over on the other side and cook for another 5 minutes until nicely browned and tender. Sprinkle with salt. Transfer to the same dish with the butternut squash for the moment.
  4. Now make the sauce in the same cast iron skillet. Melt the butter over medium-high heat, swirling occasionally, until the butter is browned and releases a nice nutty aroma. Remove the skillet from heat briefly and add the shallots, marjoram, and garlic. Stir until fragrant (less than 1 minute). Return to medium heat and add the olive oil and lemon juice. Stir in the lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Keep the sauce in the cast iron skillet on medium heat.
  5. Now add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir until the pasta is well coated. Season with a little more salt, black pepper, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in the baby spinach and parsley. Then add the cooked butternut squash and brussels sprouts. Cook everything together on medium heat, stirring regularly, until warmed through. Taste and adjust the salt and seasoning to your liking.
  6. Transfer the warm rotini pasta salad to a large bowl. Drizzle with a little more extra virgin olive oil, if you like. Top with feta cheese and toasted pine nuts. Serve warm or at room temperature with extra feta cheese on the side! Enjoy!

Recipe from The Mediterranean Dish. 

Herb Roasted Cauliflower

In the past few years I've really embraced cauliflower for what it is- a delicious, healthy vessel for whatever you want to put on it. This whole roasted cauliflower is great for vegetarians at Thanksgiving because the thick hearty slices mimic more traditional turkey and ham. 


  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper finely ground
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 large head cauliflower


  1. Preheat over to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Remove the leaves from the cauliflower, then trim the stem flush with the bottom of the head so the cauliflower sits flat on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt and all herbs, garlic, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Zest lemon and add fresh lemon juice. Set aside 1/2 cup of yogurt sauce and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
  4. Dredge cauliflower head directly into the bowl, covering with yogurt. Use a spoon to get into the nooks and crannies.
  5. Roast the cauliflower for about 45 minutes, or until the shell begins to brown. A long wooden skewer should be able to easily pass through the center.
  6. Transfer to a serving platter and cut into thick wedges. Serve with yogurt sauce.

Recipe from Savory Experiments