Vegetarian Christmas Recipes
For a twist on cranberry sauce this year, try this sweet, tart, and earthy beet-and-cranberry condiment. Toasted whole coriander and brown mustard seeds add warmth and take the chutney into savory territory. The chunky texture is part of the charm here, a great contrast to the mashes and casseroles on the table.
Balsamic Cranberry-Onion Jam
This jam is an excellent, refined sugar-free alternative to the traditional, often too-sweet sauce, and tastes even better a day or two after it’s made. Because fresh cranberries are so tart on their own, be sure to use a sweet onion such as Vidalia in the jam. Pair this condiment with your Thanksgiving plate, then use as a sandwich spread for holiday leftovers.
Traditional versions of this dish can tip the scales at nearly 1,000 calories and 30g sat fat per serving. This makeover cuts that by more than two-thirds and still has plenty of marinara, melty cheese, and crispy baked eggplant.
Balsamic-Glazed Pearl Onions
Deeply caramelized with balsamic vinegar until glossy and browned, these sweet and tangy jewels are a gorgeous addition to your holiday plate. We actually prefer frozen, peeled pearl onions over fresh for convenience; you save a lot of time by not peeling fresh pearl onions. You will be tempted to stir the pan frequently as the liquid reduces, but the onions need time to cook undisturbed in order to get deeply browned. Keep the heat low so the liquid in the pan doesn’t dry up too quickly.
Ginger-Chile Roasted Acorn Squash
Fresh ginger, red Fresno chile, and pomegranate don’t usually appear on the Thanksgiving table, but we love how they transform simply roasted squash into a dish with tingly heat and pops of color. Leave the sheet pan in the oven as it preheats to jump-start browning, saving roasting time in the oven.
Crispy Cauliflower with Italian Salsa Verde
Crunch and zing are often missing from the holiday spread; these crispy, cheesy cauliflower florets with fresh lemon-parsley sauce achieve both. Serve with classic holiday dishes at Thanksgiving, or with roasted fish or a simple pasta toss on any weeknight. A thorough coat of cooking spray on the cauliflower will help the breading adhere and keep the florets from drying out as they bake. Finely grated Parmesan will go further in the breading; use a microplane or pulse in a food processor until finely ground.
Green Bean Casserole with Caulifower Cream
Once simmered in milk and pureed, cauliflower transforms into a silky, luscious cream sauce—a dead ringer for the classic yet with a much better profile, saving nearly 500mg sodium and 4g fat per serving. We intensify the mushroom presence by using meaty cremini and shiitake mushrooms and roasting them first to cook out the excess liquid. If you can’t find shiitakes, use 2 (8-oz.) packages of cremini mushrooms. Skip the fried onions and use torn whole-wheat bread for a rustic, crunchy topper.
Maple-Caraway Brussels Sprouts
Layer upon layer of bold flavor earned these Brussels sprouts our test kitchen’s highest rating. The sprouts get deeply caramelized in toasted caraway and browned butter, then are quickly finished with a sweet and pungent mixture of maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and sherry vinegar. Caraway has an anise-like flavor similar to fennel seed. Add to roasted carrots or parsnips, or sprinkle over whole-grain rolls or crackers. Start the caraway and thyme in a cold pan so they can infuse the butter as it browns.
Potato and Parsnip Gratin
The addition of parsnips is an elegant twist to this traditionally all-potato dish. Parboiling and drying the sliced parsnips and potatoes first will keep them from absorbing the sauce in the oven so the gratin stays creamy. Half-and-half is our dairy of choice for this dish—a combination of equal parts cream and whole milk that gives the sauce its body while keeping the saturated fat at just 3g per serving. Toss the vegetables gently with the sauce so the slices don’t fall apart.
Roasted Butternut Squash With Sticky Walnut Topping
Molasses complements the sweetness of the roasted butternut squash and gives the slices a deeply bronzed look. We add cider vinegar for balance and stir in walnuts for a sticky, praline-like topping. The dish is best served warm, when the molasses mixture is still gooey. You can roast the squash ahead and reheat the slices while you make the topping. A quick trick for cleaning a sticky saucepan: Fill with water and bring to a boil, letting any residue dissolve, and then drain.
Ruthenian Mushroom Soup
A traditional Ruthenian dish, this soup starts with raw garlic and a bowl of dark brown mushrooms. It's often served on Christmas Eve, but can be enjoyed all winter long.
Sweet Potato Casserole with Pumpkin Seed-Oat Crumble
We use less sugar in this classic casserole and get sweetness instead from fragrant orange rind and vanilla. Turmeric boosts the orange color and adds a subtle earthiness to the sweet potatoes. Instead of an all-nut or marshmallow topping, an oat streusel made with pumpkinseeds adds crunch and contrast to the dish. Evaporated milk has a concentrated dairy flavor without the added sugar of sweetened condensed milk; it will help the potato base to thicken as it bakes.
Roasted Vegetable Plate with Herbed Dressing
Vegetables can be sparse in winter months when holiday braises, hearty stews, and centerpiece roasts tend to take over. This seasonal vegetable plate will help you stick to your calorie plan, and can be altered easily depending on what's available. Don't be scared of a hot oven—roasting the veggies at 500°F gets the job done quickly and gives the vegetables a nice golden color. Tarragon has an anise flavor similar to fennel; you can omit it or substitute sliced green onions or parsley for a fresh pop.
Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard Tart with Olive Oil Crust
To speed up prep time, roast the squash and par-bake the crust simultaneously. Our no-roll, no-chill, heart-healthy dough presses right into the pie plate and adds 4 grams of filling fiber to every slice. This easy dish captures all the warm, seasonal flavor of the colder months without being overly heavy or rich.
Curried Cauliflower Soup
Roasting the cauliflower and nuts deepens the flavor. The nuts also add body once the soup is pureed.
Smoked and Spiced Pecans
If you look up a recipe for DIY smokehouse nuts, you'll find that a good chunk of them involve dousing nuts with liquid smoke and baking them in the oven. Our method gives you real woodsmoke flavor instead. Settle in: It takes about 45 minutes for smoky flavor to infuse the firm, dense nuts—but patience gives a bacon(ish)-flavored reward. Your outdoor grill or smoker takes care of the heavy lifting; all you have to do is prepare the wood as specified for your smoker (try hickory or mesquite) and position the nuts over an area with indirect heat. You can give them a stir once or twice, but it's not necessary. For the best flavor and texture, let them cool completely before eating.
Fennel and Radicchio Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
There's something about the sweet anise flavor of fresh fennel and bright citrus that go so well together. Citrus grows all over Italy, from blood oranges to grapefruit to lemons. It is a dominant flavor in the cuisine. Let the salad stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving. This allows the dressing to penetrate the vegetables and tenderize them a bit for a less aggressive crunch.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Pomegranate and Tahini
Pomegranate seeds and tahini paste deliver delightful Mediterranean flavors in this quick winter side. Bonus: each serving, about a half cup only contains 152 calories.
Cranberry-Goat Cheese White Bean and Kale Salad
Pack in the protein with white bean and kale to make a heart-healthy salad. Top it off with seasonal cranberries and crumbled goat cheese. Orange rinds and dried cranberries bring bright, fresh flavors to this perfect fall salad. The best part? It gets better with age, so don't be afraid to make a big bowl of it tonight and eat the rest with lunch tomorrow.
Farro Stuffing with Butternut Squash, Red Onion, and Almonds
In this nontraditional stuffing, earthy flavors and starchy comfort come from whole-grain farro, not bread. You can assemble up to 2 days ahead. Take out of the fridge, let stand at room temperature 45 minutes, then bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Spicy Veggie Hash
Winter Squash Stew With Cilantro-Avocado Salsa
Winter greens would also make a lovely addition to this hearty stew; simply toss a few handfuls in when the squash is almost tender, and stir until greens begin to wilt.
Sweet Potato Medallions with Almond Sauce and Chickpea Salad
Enjoy a plant-based meal, including sides, main dishes, and desserts, without a trace of gluten. You'll have guests leaving the table with no idea that the meal was tailored to a restricted diet.
This impressive plate requires only 5 ingredients (water, oil, salt, and pepper are freebies). Microwaved sweet potatoes are sliced into medallions, brushed with oil, and lightly seared so they become satisfyingly steak-like. The creamy, nutty sauce adds richness, and the lemon-dressed arugula-chickpea salad bulks up the plate beautifully. In place of almond butter, you can use any nut butter you like—try peanut, cashew, or sunflower butter. And if canned chickpeas aren’t in your pantry, try cannellini or navy beans.
Modify the recipe for our Honey Whole-Wheat Pull-Apart Rolls by stirring in Asiago cheese and chopped rosemary. Substitute 1 tablespoon sugar for honey and reducing butter to 1 1/2 tablespoons. Add 1/4 cup grated Asiago cheese and 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary to milk mixture with butter, sugar, and eggs in step 1. Sprinkle 1 tablespoons grated Asiago over rolls before baking.
Creamed Winter Greens
Two beloved dark leafy greens, spinach and lacinato kale, combine to bring deep, earthy flavor to this updated take on classic creamed spinach.
Sweet Potato Casserole With Crunchy Oat Topping
This classic casserole often straddles the line between side and dessert (indeed, we've enjoyed the leftovers both ways). We dial down the sugar to steer the dish back to savory territory, and add a crunchy oat and nut topper for texture. A final drizzle of maple syrup just before serving gives the casserole a lovely sheen. While we call for a ricer in our master mashed potatoes, a potato masher is perfectly acceptable here since the spuds will be bound with an egg, topped, and baked. Chopped almonds or walnuts would be a delicious sub for the pecans.
Spinach and Feta Quiche with Quinoa Crust
We’ve turned a classic dish into a perfectly clean brunch option that the whole family will love. The crunchy quinoa crust gives heartiness to the light and fluffy quiche inside. Swap out canola oil for coconut, almond, avocado, or olive oil, and look for organic eggs and dairy products.
Sweet Potato Stacks with Sage Browned Butter
Holiday sweet potato sides can lean toward too-sweet territory; a dose of salty, nutty Parmesan balances the flavor in these adorable, delicious stacks. Get the kids to help by having them stack the slices and cheese in muffin cups as you follow behind with the browned butter. Use small potatoes so the slices will fit into the muffin cups. Make sure to slice the potatoes on the thin side, about 1⁄4-inch thick, so they’ll cook through (insert a toothpick in the center of each stack to test for doneness). You can also alternate with slices of baking potato or parsnip for pretty white and orange layers.
Iced Whole-Wheat Sugar Cookies
Whole-wheat flour adds a layer of complexity to these cookies that all-purpose flour can't achieve; the wheat in the whole grain actually enhances the flavors of butter and vanilla. Unlike classic royal icing, which starts with a pound of powdered sugar, we use just 1/2 cup and thicken it with Greek yogurt. Looking for festive colors without the chemicals? Try naturally colored sparkling sugars (such as those from India Tree), which use colorants derived from plants.
Cauliflower Risotto Cakes
Transformer leftover risotto into crispy cauliflower cakes. Serve these patties sprinkled with grated parmesan and chive dipping sauce. This fun side dish or hearty appetizer is creamy and crunchy in all the right places, plus it's sure to be kid-approved. Perfect for entertaining, these light cakes are sure to have guests asking for the recipe.
Roasted Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts
Brussels sprouts are finest in winter. Trim and cut the sprouts up to a day ahead, then keep refrigerated in a zip-top plastic bag. Once roasted, the outer leaves become nutty and crispy, turning this delicious winter vegetable into a crunchy, roasty delight. Topped with chestnuts, this is an easy side for entertaining that comes together in minutes.
Crunchy-Chewy Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies
This has been Executive Food Editor Ann Taylor Pittman's go-to "house" cookie for years—when she tells the kids she's making cookies, it's these guys, made with no-frills, good ol' whole-wheat flour. The good news is that they work with other flours, too (like brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, white whole-wheat flour and whole-wheat pastry flour). They're wonderfully crisp around the edges and chewy in the middle; that soft center comes from using all brown sugar (no granulated) and a drizzle of honey.