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15 vegetarian and vegan Thanksgiving recipes to try this year

When you're looking for a lighter Thanksgiving or to make the most of fall fruits and vegetables, we've got you covered.
Fall vegetables are hearty enough on their own – no meat necessary.
Fall vegetables are hearty enough on their own – no meat necessary.Casey Barber / Good Food Stories LLC
/ Source: TODAY

Turkey typically gets all the attention on Thanksgiving (aka turkey day), so maybe this year, during our unconventional holidays, it's time we give the vegetables a little more love.

In the fall, there are so many seasonal fruits and vegetables to choose from. From squash and sweet potato to cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, fall vegetables bring heartiness without any help from meat. Fall fruits like apples and pears have way more to offer than just pie (though we still love pie).

Whether you're looking for vegetarian or vegan alternatives to turkey and gravy, or just want more of Mother Nature's bounty flowing from your cornucopia, here are some of TODAY Food'sfavorite recipes that have nothing to do with meat.

Mains

Giada's Butternut Squash Lasagna

This fall-themed lasagna dish will steal all the spotlight from the bird. De Laurentiis makes her creamy Italian specialty without the meat and subs tomato sauce for sweet, velvety butternut squash. With layers of béchamel and tender noodles, no one will miss the turkey.

Strata, a savory bread pudding, is an excellent dish to prepare for a crowd. Sometimes, the egg-based dish stars at brunch but it's great for a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner, too. To start, it's nice to have something that can be served family-style — just bring it to the table, no carving necessary. Plus, the strata is best when made in advance, which is always helpful.

Cut down on dishwashing and throw together this one-pan casserole made with cream, garlic, traditional Thanksgiving herbs, like sage and thyme, and plenty of hearty root vegetables.

Green bean casserole is a Thanksgiving favorite. While it typically gets dished up as an accompaniment to turkey, the creamy, rich sauce, Parmesan cheese and mix of mushrooms and green beans makes it an ideal vegetarian main.

Bring some complexity and depth of flavor to classic mac with mushrooms, Dijon mustard, thyme and two types of cheese. This filling vegetarian dish goes hand-in-hand with other Southern classics like candied yams or succotash.

Appetizers and sides

Versatile enough to be an appetizer, side dish or main, these elegant (and surprisingly easy) squash filled with hearty wild mushrooms, kale and fragrant herbs might just convert the turkey lovers at the table into vegetarians … at least for the day.

Quinoa, Cornbread and Cranberry Stuffing

This robust vegan stuffing gets body from the cornbread, depth from the mushrooms and celery, texture from the pecans and quinoa and sweetness from the dried cranberries. And yes, you will want to eat a bowl of it the next morning, which means it passes the true test of any Thanksgiving dish.

"I love the combination of sweet and salty and tart, and I love the textures the nuts, fried leaves and crunchy pomegranate seeds add," Bobby Flay says about his vibrant veggie dish. "Plus, we eat with our eyes too and this dish is visually stunning."

Sometimes. a simple foil packet of roasted root vegetables just hits the spot. It's so simple to dice up colorful carrots, parsnips, beets and more and bake them with herbs and olive oil. Naturally flavorful and beautiful all on their own, this dish is a delight.

Acorn Squash with Brown Butter and Honey

Take a break from butternut and try mashed acorn squash with garlic and sweet potatoes this Thanksgiving. This vegetarian dish is sweetened gently with honey and gets a punch of flavor from sage and garlic. The butter could easily be swapped with a vegan substitute, too.

Vegan desserts

"These gooey, sticky and utterly decadent pecan pie bars are an incredible substitute for a tradition holiday favorite: the pecan pie," says food blogger Samah Dada. "However, you don't even need an oven to make this recipe because it's totally raw!"

Didn't quite finish that bottle of red wine last night? Use it to make chocolate cake! This rich and seductive chocolate cake is fudgy on the inside with a hint of red wine. Top it with wine-soaked "drunken" raspberries and a dollop of coconut whipped cream for the ultimate dessert.

This show-stopping cake surprisingly only takes 15 minutes to prep and 30 minutes to bake. It's made with vegan-friendly, gluten-free ingredients like almond flour and coconut oil and is sweetened with maple syrup, vanilla and, of course, carrots.

Vegan Matcha-Dark Chocolate Cake

"Mashed ripe banana and Japanese ceremonial matcha powder make this cake this cake is one of the most beloved in my cookbooks," says Candice Kumai. The banana adds sweetness and moisture and the matcha deep earthiness.

Whether everyone in the family is vegan or just one, serve up Dada's spin on cheesecake with these equally satisfying "cheesecake" bars. The combination of cashews and coconut milk create this unbelievably creamy texture, and the raw crust is both chewy and crunchy, with a nice subtle sweetness from the dates. But most importantly, it is made out of all real, whole ingredients that you can feel good about eating.