Christmas with the Vegetarian


It seems like I’ve had a vegetarian at my holiday table since at least 2004. This year it’s my teenage nephew. Preparing the Christmas meal is already hard on the cooks . . . expensive, tiring, and time-consuming . . . and trying to accommodate someone who just stopped eating meat can be the last straw.

Or not.

There will be no tofurkey on my table. We’re having ham. And green bean casserole. And garlic and basil mashed potatoes, cornbread, and red velvet cake.

Of course, I don’t expect my nephew to just eat sides. His favorite dish when he comes to our house is my mother’s beef stroganoff. Since it’s his favorite and easy to make, we’ll make it with a vegetarian twist: noodles and sauce served over vegetarian “sausage” patties instead of using ground beef. We may decide we like it that way ourselves. It’s a surprise. I can’t wait to see what he thinks of it.

I decided to make another dish specifically for him. I looked up non-creamy mushroom soup recipes, and I’m making soup with vegetarian, low sodium soup stock, sliced and sauteed mushrooms and onion, and parsnips. Why parsnips? Why not? I love parsnips. They balance the spiciness of soups and stews.

As for the slaw, I was a little afraid there might be too many creamy dishes and I thought a non-traditional vegetable might be appreciated by everyone.

The best part of this dinner is that I’m going to cook it all tomorrow, Christmas Eve, and take it easy on Christmas Day. I’m going to wash all the dishes tomorrow night. The only thing I’m cooking on Christmas Day is the cornbread.

I think I’m looking forward to the mushroom soup most. No, I have to tell the truth. I’m looking forward to the ham the most. And hoping that my nephew will know that we do respect his beliefs and want him to have a delicious, filling Christmas dinner.


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