Vegetarian, Vegan, and Pescatarian Alternatives for Thanksgiving in Pierce County

Once upon a time, entrée options were scarce for those who didn’t eat beef, poultry, or pork. Now, however, vegans, vegetarians, and pescatarians have a plethora of alternatives available to them. Actually, today there are so many options out there that you can find a substitute for everything from butter to bacon. Here are a few ideas to throw an unforgettable Thanksgiving dinner in Pierce County that starts with throwing away the turkey.  

Thanksgiving in Pierce County
Rack up cool points by serving some creamy risotto this Thanksgiving. Photo credit: Liz Gariazzo

A Roast is a Roast is a Roast

For decades the Field Roast company’s celebration roasts have been the traditional Thanksgiving entree for vegans and vegetarians. The plant-based roasts come in two savory flavors and are even designed to look similar to traditional roasts, such as a spiral ham or a turkey breast. They come in two delicious flavors perfect for any Thanksgiving tablescape — the original, a longtime fan of plant-based palates — and the sage and garlic. Bonus? Like turkey or ham, Field Roast leftovers make for great sandwiches throughout the holiday weekend. Pick one up at Metropolitan Market in Proctor or Trader Joe’s in University Place.

Fishy Fanciness

Take a tip from Italians, who often serve a whole fish as a main course, and trick your guests into thinking they’re attending a Thanksgiving event hosted by celebrity chefs Ina Garten and Giada De Laurentis. A bright, colorful fish, or crustacean, at the center of the table in all its head-to-tail glory is sure to visually impress, but the delicate tastiness will even more delight your pescatarian friends. The fish is the star, so keep sides simple — a celery root puree and grilled asparagus make great supporting actors, for example. If you want to go even bigger, think outside the tank: whole octopus or local Dungeness crab also get the job done. Bonus? Low in fat, fish and other seafood contain omega-3 fatty acids and a long list of essential vitamins and minerals. Best place to procure fresh pescado? At the H-Mart in Lakewood — the fish are so fresh they’re still swimming (we’re not kidding).

One Dish, Hot Dish

Originating and still widely cooked and consumed in the Midwest is the hot dish, commonly referred to throughout the rest of the United States as a casserole. Considering that you can use almost any combination of ingredients, and there’s no need to stir, flip, or baste, it’s not surprising that this Midwestern staple is still popular today. Get creative and apply this one-dish concept to your Thanksgiving menu by creating a scrumptious main course paired with a salad and a warm loaf of sourdough bread. There is no limit to what you can do with a baking dish and a handful of ingredients. This Midwestern mainstay is sure to please your quiche crowd or frittata friends, but let your imagination run wild: there are no rules in the hot dish game. Bonus? This one-dish deal means there’s no need to run the dishwasher 30 times before bed.  

Thanksgiving in Pierce County
Chloe Galvez, age 13, has no problem trading turkey for pizza. Photo credit: Elisa Galvez

Pasta (or Pizza) Party

Who doesn’t like pasta? And with today’s broad selection of plant-based nom noms, you can replicate classic pasta dishes such as lasagna using plant-based cheeses, meats, and sausages or make a huge bowl of spaghetti and meatless balls. The same goes for pizza. You can also forgo imitating meat-based recipes entirely and create a creamy mushroom risotto or throw some gemelli or cavatelli into a bagna cauda, a traditional stew made with garlic and seasonal vegetables. Plus, since pizza and pasta recipes serve as an all-in-one dish, you can round out the meal with a salad and some yummy breadsticks — no need to sweat over a dozen side dishes. These days, you can pick up plant-based cheese, meatballs and sausage at almost any grocery store, but you’ll find the widest selections at Whole Foods.

Thanksgiving in Pierce County
Small plates make a big impression on the holidays. Photo credit: Liz Gariazzo

Serve One, Serve All

If you’re going to buck tradition, why even serve an entree? Grazing plates, or charcuterie boards, are perfect for gatherings featuring a mixed-diet guest list. Your omnivore cousin Jeremy is bringing his vegan fiance Joe, and your Aunt Adele considers ketchup a vegetable. Satisfy all your guests with cheese, fruit, and meat boards, and add spots of color to your table by adding ramekins brimming with colorful sweet and sour chutneys, sweet jams, and a briny olive tapenade. Nuts, dried fruits, and roasted peppers will round out your sweet and savory smorgasbord. Bonus? Small plates served buffet-style make it easier to watch the game, play charades, or binge-watch “The Queen” with your family and friends. Added bonus: shopping for your boards can be lots of fun. Hit up the Waterfront Market at Ruston and grab some artisan nuts from Pike Place Nuts, specialty fruit items from Fardell Farms, incomparable oils, vinegars, and sauces from All Things Rich.

The options listed above aren’t just for veg and fish heads — omnivores are also taking advantage of goodies like cashew cheese and facon to accomplish personal goals such as minimizing their carbon footprint or lowering their triglyceride levels. Thanks to advancements in agriculture, you can host a marvelous meal for friends and family right here in Pierce County. Regardless of their diet, your guests will be inspired to give thanks — to the chef.