Holiday Menus for Mixed Food Faiths

Posted on December 19, 2015 by Guy Atkinson

With more and more people cutting meat and other animal products out of their diets these days, the holiday menu is no longer the no-brainer it once was. If you are rethinking the idea of a meat-centric meal, here are a few crowd-pleasing vegan dishes to serve alongside a roast — or all on their own!


The first, Middle Eastern Squash and Red Onions, is based on Yotam Ottolenghi’s Roasted Butternut Squash in the Jerusalem cookbook. If you can’t find the Middle Eastern spice mix za’atar, you can  make your own za’atar. The dish tastes delicious even without it, but is more special with.

Middle Eastern Squash and Red Onions

Based on Yotam Ottolenghi’s Roasted Butternut Squash
• 1/2 c. olive oil
• 4 lbs butternut squash
• 4 large red onions
• 1/2 c pine nuts
• Coarse sea salt
• Pepper
• 1/2 c. tahini paste
• 2 tbsp. lemon juice
• 2 small garlic cloves, crushed
•  2 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
• 2 tbsp za’atar (optional)
1. Heat the oven to 475 degrees.
2. Wash the squash and cut it into 3/4 by 2 1/2-inch wedges. No need to peel it, unless you want to, as the peel will cook in the hot oven. Mix in a large bowl with 1/4 c.. of olive oil. When well coated with oil, lay the pieces on a baking sheet with the skin side down. Leave room on one side of the baking pan for the onions.
3. Peel the onions and cut them through the root into 8 wedges. Carefully put them in the bowl that held the squash and gently toss with 3 tbsp of oil. Lay the pieces on the baking sheet. Season thesquash and onions with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes until well colored and soft. The onions will cook faster and need to be removed earlier. Begin checking after 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, whisk the tahini paste together in a small bowl with the garlic, lemon juice, 1/4 c. water and 1/4 tsp. salt until the consistency of honey. Add more water or a drizzle of olive oil if necessary.
5. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a small pan over medium-low heat. Cook the nuts with a sprinkle of salt for a couple f minutes, shaking the pan a few times to turn the nuts.
6. When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, lay the squash on a serving platter and spread the onions on top. Drizzle with the tahini sauce, sprinkle with the nuts and add the parsley and optional za’atar last.
Time: 1 hour 
Yield: 10 servings


The second dish, Easy Vegan Potato Pancakes, is made with oatmeal, which makes for a great binder. When I’ve served these potato pancakes side by side with ones made the traditional way, with eggs, everyone preferred the vegan version. I’ve included a recipe for a sweet and tangy cranberry sauce to serve with it. Of course, it’s great with apple sauce too.

Easy Vegan Potato Pancakes
•  6 large russet potatoes
• 2 medium yellow onions
• 1 c. cooked oatmeal (can be the instant kind)
• 6 tbsp. flour
• 4 tsp salt
• Pepper
• Oil for frying
Cranberry sauce (see recipe below) and/or apple sauce
1. Peel the onions and potatoes. Cut the onions and 3 of the potatoes into large pieces. Pulse in a food processor until minced. Coarsely grate the remaining 3 potatoes with a hand grater. (Grating by hand ensures the proper texture.)
2. Combine all the potatoes and onions in a strainer and press out as much liquid as you can. Then take a ball at a time and squeeze it out a little more over the sink with your hands or wring it out in cheese cloth. Put each squeezed ball in a large bowl.
3. Heat a quarter-inch of oil in two large, heavy frying pans over medium-high heat until a drop of watersizzles. Meanwhile, stir the flour, salt, pepper and 1/2 c. of the cooked oatmeal into the potato esand onions. Add more oatmeal as needed until the mixture holds together well.
4. If you will be serving the pancakes within the hour, preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Otherwise, skip this step.
5. Spoon a couple of tablespoons into the pans for each pancake. Flatten each with the back of a spatula before spooning in the next. Leave the pancakes well-spaced in the pans. Fry until golden brown on one side — about 5 minutes — then flip and fry the other side. When done, drain them on paper bags or towels briefly to get rid of excess oil. Taste one for seasoning. If more salt is needed,add to pancakes as they come out of the skillet. Move to a cookie sheet.
6. If serving within the hour, place in the oven. Otherwise, let rest on the counter until 35 minutes before serving time. Then preheat the oven to 350 degrees and finish browning the pancakes in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes.
Time: 1 1/2 hours + time to finish browning in oven (15 minutes or more depending on when you do it)
Yield: 10 servings

Tip of the Day

Time management for Finance Professionals

time management


I’ve just re-read Richard Denny’s fantastic book ‘Selling to Win’, in which he mentions a time management technique that I learnt many, many years ago from an old boss of mine.


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