It’s a really good thing that I love to cook because you told me loud and clear that you wanted some help with menu planning. I understand it’s not easy, but now it can be much less stressful. It looks like we’re going to be eating really well for the next few days. No complaints here.
Not that this is the first time I’ve posted a holiday menu on the blog. There was that time in 2010 for Project Food Blog and then again in 2011 just for kicks. I guess I was due for an update! I truly think this is the best one yet. Maybe I’m biased, but I think my recipes improve over the years. That means there’s always room for a fresh take on a menu. Yeehaw!
I’d like to walk you through a relatively simple holiday meal plan today for 4 people. Adapt it as you see fit. My goal was to create some dishes that could be made the day before. I also wanted the prep on the day of to be minimal. So no, I’m not throwing a ton of recipes at you today and telling you to spend 3 full days in the kitchen. I did my best to simplify things without sacrificing flavour. It’s a fine line! My prep time the day before was under 2 hours and my prep time the day of was about 1 hour. Not too shabby, right?
This isn’t meant to be a huge, extravagant holiday meal, but rather a delicious and special menu for 4 people. If you are serving a big crowd, you will definitely need to multiply this to suit your group size.
Prepare the day before:
- Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Oat Crust (this pie needs to sit in the fridge overnight to set)
- Cranberry Pear Sauce
- Lentil Walnut Balls (prepare, but do not cook until the day of your meal)
Prepare the day of:
- Maple Cinnamon Mashed Sweet Potatoes (easiest side dish ever!)
- The Best Shredded Kale Salad
- Bake the lentil walnut balls
- Coconut Whipped Cream (if serving with the pie – optional)
Shall we begin? [Note: where ever you see a green link you can click it to be brought to the recipe page.]
The Best Shredded Kale Salad – vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, soy-free
Prepare this salad the day of your meal. The flavour is much better when served shortly after preparing it compared to letting it sit overnight. (Yes, I compared the two! I thought the overnighter was going to win, but it didn’t).
[note: in the photos below I served the salad with the main course, but you can serve it either before or with your meal. Your call.]
Lentil Mushroom Walnut Balls with Cranberry Pear Sauce – vegan, gluten-free, soy-free
Prepare both the day before, but do not cook the balls until the day of. I shaped the mixture into balls, placed them on a plate, covered with wrap, and refrigerated until the next day. Then I cooked as directed just before the meal. Easy! You can also cook and freeze the balls for up to 1-1.5 weeks. Thaw on the counter or fridge and reheat in the oven.
Maple Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes – vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, soy-free option
Prepare this quick and easy side dish the day of. This side dish stole my heart! I absolutely love mashed sweet potatoes made with a bit of vegan butter, maple syrup, sea salt, and cinnamon. Nothing beats it. If you haven’t tried them prepared this way, you really should. The prep is just 10 minutes! I used 2 large sweet potatoes, but you could easily get away with using 3 potatoes for 4 people.
If you are looking for another side dish to add to the fun, I recommend my Cranberry, Apricot, and Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf. You can probably prepare this pilaf the day before.
Like little fluffy clouds of pure bliss, these maple cinnamon mashed sweet potatoes make a lovely addition to any holiday meal. It reminds me a bit of sweet potato casserole, only without the marshmallows. The prep is just 5-10 minutes, so it makes a quick, last minute side dish without much fuss at all. This batch will just barely serve 4 as a side. You could easily get away with increasing the potatoes to 3 instead of 2 (and adding more of the other ingredients as needed). No one ever complained of having too many sweet potato clouds, you know.
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
- a couple generous pinches of fine grain sea salt, to taste
- cinnamon, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Add peeled and chopped potatoes into a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 5-8 minutes. Drain.
- Add potatoes back into the pot and with a potato masher, mash in the vegan butter until smooth. Now add the rest of the ingredients to taste. Serve immediately.
Note: Instead of vegan butter you can try using coconut oil, although I haven't tried this yet. For a soy-free option, use soy-free vegan butter or coconut oil.
Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Oat Crust – vegan, gluten-free, soy-free
Prepare this pumpkin pie the day before. A simple pumpkin pie filling with a delectable nutty crust! This pie is lightly sweetened and doesn’t feel too heavy or give you a sugar crash after indulging. Tip if you need a nut-free pie, feel free to use a store-bought crust (or your favourite homemade crust recipe). I really think this crust makes the pie though, so if you can swing it, definitely make it! It’s so easy too – all you do is press it in…no rolling involved.
Optional: Serve with Coconut Whipped Cream
Not feeling pumpkin pie? Try my Chilled Dark Chocolate Pie instead. A little chocolate around the holidays is always appreciated.
A simple pumpkin pie filling with a delectable nutty crust! This pie is lightly sweetened and doesn't feel too heavy or give you a sugar crash after indulging. Prepare this pie the day before, so it has time to set in the fridge overnight. Crust is adapted from my Chilled Dark Chocolate Pie and the filling is adapted from my Vegan Pumpkin Pie Squares with a Graham Cracker Crust.
for the pecan oat crust:
- 3/4 cup pecan halves
- 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup gluten-free oat flour
- 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats.
for the pumpkin filling:
- 1/4 cup full-fat canned coconut milk (the white cream portion) OR almond milk
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
- 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 6 tablespoons pure cane sugar (or granulated sugar of choice)
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- pinch of fine grain sea salt
- For the crust: Preheat oven to 350⁰F and lightly grease a 9-inch pie dish with coconut oil. Add pecans into a food processor and process until a fine crumb forms, the size of sand. Be sure not to process the pecans for too long, or the oil will release. Now add the coconut oil, maple syrup, salt, and oat flour and process again until the dough comes together. Finally, pulse in the rolled oats until the oats are finely chopped, but still have some texture to them. The dough should stick together when pressed between your fingers. If it doesn’t, try processing for a bit longer.
- With your fingers, crumble the dough evenly over the base of the pie dish. Starting from the middle, press the mixture firmly and evenly into the dish, moving outward and upward along the side of the pie dish. The harder you press the crumbs into the dish, the more it will hold together. Poke 5-6 fork holes into the bottom to let the air escape.
- Bake pie crust, uncovered, at 350⁰F for 10-13 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. Remove from oven and set aside to cool on a rack for at least 5 minutes.
- For the filling: In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut milk (or almond milk) with the arrowroot powder until smooth.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all of the pumpkin filling ingredients, including the arrowroot and cream/milk mixture. If your pumpkin puree is firm and grainy - add this filling into a processor and whirl it until smooth. You might need to add a bit more cream/milk if your pumpkin was really dense. Pour this filling into the baked crust and smooth out.
- Bake the pie, uncovered, at 350°F for 37-45 minutes until the pie is semi-firm, but still a bit soft. Watch the crust and cover with tin foil if necessary. My crust was nice and golden at 40 minutes (when I took it out), but not burned.
- Cool the pie for 2 hours on a cooling rack and then cover with foil and transfer to the fridge overnight to set.
- Serve the pie straight from the fridge, with some coconut whipped cream, if desired. Note that the pie will get quite soft at room temperature so I don't suggest keeping it out for longer than 10 minutes at a time.
- To make the oat flour, add 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup rolled oats into a high speed blender. Blend on high until a fine flour forms.
- Note that using the coconut cream will give the pie a light coconut flavour. Use almond milk as an alternative if desired.
Edited to add: We’re having a small issue with our recipe plug-in (in this post) and we’re working on fixing the bug. Thanks for your patience!
Well, we have full, grateful, and happy bellies going on over here. And the best part is, I don’t feel like sleeping on the couch for 6 days. Success!
Let me know what you think of the recipes if you try them out. Love ‘em, hate ‘em, find a new way of doing something? Let us know in the comments, as always.
Wishing those of you in the US a happy, safe, and fun Thanksgiving! xo