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Well, vegetarians, it's that time of year again: Thanksgiving, one of the several major holidays we celebrate that has, as its centerpiece, a large, cooked piece of meat.
It's not always easy to be a vegetarian at the Thanksgiving table. Sure, some of the best aspects of the meal—the stuffing, the veggie sides, the cranberry sauce—are meat-free, but they're still not main dishes, and don't we all deserve an entrée to totally gorge ourselves on, and feel regret about later, when the fourth Thursday of November rolls around?
Recipes for Thanksgiving vegetarian main dishes abound, but sometimes they all seem like variations on a theme, one which usually involves tofu or some sort of soy protein that attempts to simulate the big bird. I wanted to steer clear of those sorts of preparations for this recipe. So I spent some time thinking about the iconic flavors of this time of year, and what came to mind were squash and root vegetables. They're almost always on the Thanksgiving table in one form or another, so why not enrich them, make 'em hearty and filling, and serve them as a main course?
Shepherd's pie is a natural fit for these ingredients. They get roasted to intensify their flavor, combined with mushrooms for some added flavor and heft, stirred into a rich, creamy, comforting sauce, and topped with smooth mashed potatoes, which get brown and crisp when the dish goes back into a hot oven. The end result is decadent enough to satisfy a holiday-sized appetite, and might even turn the heads of a few of your meat-eating friends and relatives.
About the author: Lauren Rothman is a former Serious Eats intern, a freelance catering chef, and an obsessive chronicler of all things culinary. Try the original recipes on her blog, For the Love of Food, and follow her on Twitter @Lochina186.