Meatless Madison: Three local chefs share their Thanksgiving recipes

Each recipe is great for vegetarians at the table

Thanksgiving conjures images of roasted turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes with a healthy heaping of butter; not exactly the kind of meal that vegans and vegetarians dream about all year long. But as more people become hip to a plant-based diet, it’s getting easier — and tastier — than ever to enjoy a meat-free holiday.

I asked three of Madison’s vegan chefs, Lauren Montelbano of Surya Cafe, James Bloodsaw of Just Veggiez and Cara Moseley of Green Owl Cafe to share what they like to eat on Thanksgiving. And lucky for us, they even shared their recipes (for more meat-free ideas check out Bon Appetit and the New York Times). Happy meatless Thanksgiving!

Lauren Montelbano, Surya Cafe: Everyone’s favorite dish at Thanksgiving happens to be one I serve at the restaurant— roasted Brussels sprouts with shiitake bacon. I love making this dish because many of us grew up eating (or pushing around on our plate) steamed Brussels sprouts. I remember the house filling up with this foul odor every time my mom cooked them and I refused to eat them. I know many people who still have this stereotype surrounding Brussels sprouts, so I like to show how they can be made delicious!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shiitake Bacon

Shiitake bacon:

Shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/3 cup oil of choice
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon maple syrup
Pinch of black pepper

Instructions: Pre-heat oven to 350. De-stem and thinly slice shiitake mushrooms. Mix all the other ingredients together and pour over mushrooms. Allow the mushrooms to marinate for 5-10 minutes. Spread marinated mushrooms on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Your mushrooms should be nicely Brown and starting to just get crisp.

Pecan Parmesan:

Pecan pieces
1/4 oil of choice
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon salt

Instructions: Preheat oven to 400. Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl until the pecans are completely coated. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and pour the pecans onto it. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes. The pecans should be browned and fragrant.

Use as a topping for Brussels and other side dishes, mains or salads.

Maple mustard vinaigrette:

1 small shallot, roughly chopped
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cup olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

Instructions: Place all ingredients except olive oil into a blender and blend until the shallot is broken down. Then with the blender on low speed, start to drizzle in the olive oil to form an emulsion. When the dressing is fully combined, stop the blender and pour the dressing into a storage container. It will keep for a week in the fridge.

To make the complete dish, roast the amount of Brussels sprouts you intend on serving in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. When they come out of the oven, put them into a bowl and mix with an appropriate amount of the maple mustard vinaigrette. Then top with the shiitake bacon and pecan Parmesan.

James Bloodsaw, Just Veggiez: My favorite dish is grilled jerk peppers and asparagus. I marinate the vegetables in jerk seasoning for two days and then grill them. I eat this every Thanksgiving — I just love them.Meatless Madison: Three local chefs share their Thanksgiving recipes

Grilled Vegetables with Jerk Seasoning

Jerk seasoning:

1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (regular paprika is fine)
1 teaspoon allspice ground
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper ground
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cumin ground
1/2 teaspoons nutmeg ground
1/2 tsp cinnamon ground
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon thyme dried
1 tablespoon parsley dried
1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions: Mixed all the ingredients together, then add vegetables. Cover and refrigerator for 24 hours, then grill.

Cara Moseley, Green Owl Cafe: My Thanksgiving go-to vegan dessert is a pumpkin cheesecake. I love making this because it’s a classic flavor that is extra rich and fancy, and the best part is your guests won’t even notice it’s vegan!Meatless Madison: Three local chefs share their Thanksgiving recipes

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake


1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cups coarse ground raw pecans
1/4 cups of melted vegan butter or shortening (enough to make the crust stick)
1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ginger powder
Pinch of salt


1 box of silken tofu (firm)
1 container (12oz) vegan cream cheese
1 can (15oz) pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon egg replacer powder
2 tablespoons flour


1 12 oz. container of vegan sour cream
1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350. Melt the vegan butter, grind cookies to crumbs, add sugar, ginger and salt, then drizzle the butter a little at a time until crumbs are wet enough to stick together when pressed to the side of the bowl. Then cover the bottom of your springform pan with the mixture and firmly press into the pan, then toast the crust for about 12 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown.

For the filling: Start with the tofu, vanilla and sugar in a food processor and blend until smooth, then add the egg replacer powder, flour and spices then blend until smooth. Add the cream cheese and pumpkin and blend until very smooth. Transfer to the prepared crust, then place the cheesecake in the oven for about 50 minutes (surface should look dry and center should be slightly jiggly).

For the topping: In a food processor, mix vegan sour cream, sugar and vanilla, then carefully pour on the warm cheesecake, and return to the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the edges are bubbling, Let cool for at least an hour on the counter before chilling in the fridge for at least 4 hours before cutting.

* To make a gluten free version substitute gluten-free graham crackers and gluten-free flour or tapioca flour.