Thanksgiving Day was first set aside in North America to celebrate the harvest bounty of the New World. It's a useful reminder for those of us modern-day urban-dwellers accustomed to enormous supermarkets that shelves and shelves of inexpensive food couldn't always be so easily taken for granted. It seems appropriate that as we give thanks for being able to spend a day with family and friends, we celebrate with food … and usually plenty of it!
These are some of my favorite fall entertaining ideas from the hundreds of recipes I've published over the years. From breakfast or brunch through to snacks and appetizers, dinner ideas, soups, salads and side dishes, and — of course — treats and desserts, there's something for every vegetarian or any family with vegetarians to feed at Thanksgiving. There are even some ideas in there for vegans or those who want to try an Indian-themed Thanksgiving dinner for a different experience. Your family and friends just might be giving thanks for your cooking at the end of the day!
Spiced Pumpkin Waffles
The heavenly aroma of baked pumpkin and spices in these light and fluffy waffles makes the most fragrant and delicious Thanksgiving breakfast imaginable, and it's a great way to start the day with a fall harvest classic.
Apple-Oatmeal Breakfast Streusel Cake
Autumn harvest apples star in this warm and delicious apple-oatmeal breakfast cake with ground cinnamon and a sweet crunchy streusel topping.
Apfelpfannkuchen (Baked German Apple Pancake)
This soft and sweet baked apple pancake feels like a soufflé in the mouth with the wonderful flavors and aromas of brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Indian-Style Baked Eggs Florentine
An Indian-style update on the classic Eggs Florentine with homemade spiced creamed spinach, this is a simple, stunning and extraordinarily delicious breakfast.
Indian-Style Fried Egg and Potato Cake
Hungry morning people will be delighted to see this hearty and filling savory fried egg and potato cake with Indian seasonings on the table.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Save the seeds from your holiday pumpkins and make these easy homemade roasted pumpkin seeds — so tasty, everyone from kids to adults will love them.
Olive Cheese Balls
Plump green olives baked in a slightly spicy and crispy cheese pastry, these simple little balls are the perfect snack or appetizer.
Stuffed Mushrooms with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Olives
Earthy mushrooms stuffed with tart sun-dried tomatoes and Kalamata olives, spices and jalapeños, and creamy and salty goat cheese — these will put the wow in your appetizer tray.
Coleslaw Bites with Jalapeño Dip
Simple, sweet and savory golden fried cabbage coleslaw balls served with a creamy, tangy and zesty yogurt and jalapeño dip — these will disappear in no time.
Smoked Gouda Gougères
These light, airy and delicious smoked Gouda cheese puffs just melt in the mouth — they just might be my favorite appetizer, and they'll disappear in no time at all.
Eggplant Quinoa Bites with Pesto
One of my latest favorite appetizers, broiled eggplant slices are topped with a quinoa pesto, slices of fresh tomato and melted cheese.
Tempeh Stuffed Mushrooms
Another new favorite, and this one is vegan and surprisingly nourishing — plump and juicy mushrooms stuffed with a savory mixture of spiced quinoa and smoky chipotle fried tempeh.
Paneer Tikka Masala
A classic Indian appetizer, delicious chunks of paneer cheese are marinated in spicy and tangy yogurt and then broiled to a beautiful golden brown.
Samosa-Style Stuffed Baked Potatoes
Baked potatoes stuffed with a samosa style spiced vegetable filling, this is a unique and popular treat that can be served as a mid-day snack, a starter or side, or a late-night party food.
Mushroom Nut Roast in Golden Puff Pastry
Rich, hearty, earthy and delicious, this gorgeous mushroom nut roast loaded with quinoa, sun-dried tomatoes and spices and seasonings all wrapped in a golden puff pastry is the centerpiece of any Thanksgiving dinner, vegetarian or otherwise.
Spicy Lentil Quinoa Nut Roast
This hearty, nourishing and delicious spicy vegetarian "meatloaf" made with lentils, quinoa, mushrooms and cashews will satisfy even the carnivores in the family.
Indian-Style Samosa Potpie
A rich, savory baked pie with a samosa-style potato, chickpea, spinach and vegetable filling in a flaky butter pie crust — this is a magnificent centerpiece for a special dinner, one that will appeal to vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, and none of your guests will leave the table hungry.
Curried Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie
Shepherd's pie is classic hearty fall comfort food, and you and your guests won't miss the meat at all with this curried vegetarian version made with lentils, vegetables and spinach topped with a light fluffy golden brown potato and sweet potato mash, especially when it's served with a savory portobello mushroom gravy.
Crusted Cornmeal Chickpea Potpie
A vegetarian version of the classic chicken potpie, spiced sweet potato and carrots with buttery soft chickpeas are baked under a golden brown cornmeal crust topping — a colorful, hearty and delicious fall dinner centerpiece.
Vegetarian Mushroom Bourguignon
Tender chunks of plump portobellos and chewy dried lobster mushrooms are simmered into a rich, thick and fragrant red wine sauce and served over a bed of steaming egg noodles — this is a gorgeous main course.
Chickpea Patties Smothered in Vegetable Gravy
Spiced and lightly fried chickpea patties are smothered in a thick, hearty and delicious vegetable gravy made with your favorite fall vegetables
Vegetarian Cassoulet with Bread Topping
A rich and savory baked bean and vegetable casserole with dried herbs and a baked bread and Parmesan cheese topping — a filling and nourishing dinner for everyone.
Southern-Style Pinto Beans with Rice and Fried Eggplant
Looking for something a little different and treating your guests to a little Southern style hospitality? These hearty pinto beans are simmered in a rich, tangy and spicy barbecue-style tomato sauce with hickory smoke flavoring, and topped with fried eggplant slices for a truly unique and entertaining main dish.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Herbed Cannellini and Artichokes
Tender roasted golden orange butternut squash mixed with a baked casserole of creamy cannellini beans, delicate artichokes, sweet cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs, this vegan dinner is amazingly good.
Brussels Sprouts Risotto
Risottos may not be traditional Thanksgiving fare, but they're always an elegant addition to an entertaining table — and an especially appealing fall addition when cooked with Brussels sprouts and topped with golden fried crispy Brussels sprout quarters.
Brussels Sprouts Lasagna
Another not-so-traditional Thanksgiving entrée maybe, but this lasagna stuffed with mushrooms, cheese and sliced balsamic Brussel sprouts would make a rich, sumptuous and delicious centerpiece.
Baked Beans with Nigerian Seasonings
What is Thanksgiving dinner without baked beans? This vegan baked beans dish is one of my favorites, cooked with peanut butter and a delicious Nigerian-style seasoning.
Curried Red Kidney Beans with Paneer
Looking for a spectacular Indian main course? This red kidney bean curry served with tender pieces of fried paneer cheese is rich, earthy, spicy and incredibly flavorful.
Scalloped Potatoes with Best Ever Mushroom Sauce
Scalloped potatoes are a mainstay of every holiday meal, and these soft, creamy and buttery potatoes get a special treatment worthy of the occasion with generous layers of a tangy and aromatic mushroom sauce that I maintain is simply the "best ever".
Greek-Style Cauliflower Gratin with Feta and Olives
This cauliflower gratin is elevated with tomatoes, plump Kalamata olives, feta cheese and Greek seasonings. Lovely to look at and wonderfully fragrant, it`s so delicious I kept making it again and again.
Homemade Creamed Corn
Another fixture of holiday meals, creamed corn is so much creamier and tastier when you make it yourself at home, and it's very easy too.
Curry-Laced Pumpkin and Potato Soup
Laced with just a hint of curry spice, this simple creamy pumpkin and potato soup is a lovely, nourishing and delicious way to start a Thanksgiving dinner.
Sweet Potato Chickpea Soup
Classic fall root vegetables and chickpeas are cooked with gentle spices in a colorful, simple, warming and delicious bowl of soup that will make a big impression on your diners.
Hearty Lentil Borscht
Fall is the season for hearty soups and root vegetables, and there's nothing heartier or more satisfying than a hot bowl of this colorful sweet red beet borscht cooked with lentils, carrots and potatoes and a zesty seasoning.
Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes
Fresh garden tomatoes stuffed with a spicy and savory quinoa, olive and herb mixture, this is one of my most popular recipes and makes an attractive addition to any table.
Roasted Beetroot with Toasted Walnuts and Yogurt
This simple salad of roasted beets and toasted walnuts in a tangy yogurt dressing will add plenty of color and texture to the start of your meal.
A classic salad at just about any kind of get-together, you can't go wrong serving this quick and easy coleslaw with a tangy and creamy dressing and just a little kick.
Creamy Vegan Coleslaw Dressed with Avocado
Or you might want to entertain your vegan friends with this variation on the classic coleslaw tossed with a creamy, tangy and zesty avocado and mustard dressing — it might even be tastier than the original, and you won't miss the mayonnaise.
Spicy Indian Green Beans
A serving bowl of green beans is a fixture on holiday tables, and these lightly fried crunchy green beans simmered in coconut milk get dressed up with an aromatic blend of Indian seeds.
Cauliflower and Pea Curry
Green peas and lovely fresh cauliflower are cooked until just tender in gentle and fragrant Indian spices and seeds for a delicious and truly gorgeous side dish.
Indian-Style Roasted Squash Curry
Myself, I'm thankful for Indian food! Fork-tender pieces of roasted squash simmered in a hot and fragrant Indian-spiced curry is just the thing for the fall table.
Brown Rice and Blue Cheese Gratin with Cauliflower and Broccoli
This savory brown rice, cauliflower and broccoli gratin with a zippy blue cheese sauce is so rich, it could almost be the main course — serve this if you want to spoil and fill your guests.
Yellow Lemon Rice with Fried Cashews
Another classic side dish for Indian dinners, this lovely and fragrant yellow lemon rice tossed with golden brown fried cashews and Indian seasonings is simple to make and vegan friendly too.
Southern-Style Buttermilk Biscuits
Perfectly light, flaky and buttery, these classic Southern-style biscuits are easy to make and have a wonderful little tanginess from buttermilk — a fantastic accompaniment to a Thanksgiving or any special meal.
Simple, light and fluffy, these "egg-y" popovers make a great addition to any group dinner — slather with butter and sprinkle salt and pepper on top of a hot popover for a real treat.
Cheddar Dijon Biscuits
A simple and always popular solution for filling out your meal, these biscuits have a delicately crusty exterior surrounding a melt-in-your-mouth fluffy interior of Cheddar cheese accented with parsley and Dijon mustard.
Another great way to fill out a meal, and one that's vegan too, this simple classic cornbread is a fall favorite — dense, filling and loaded with plenty of cornmeal flavor and crunch.
Make several batches of these moist and flaky pumpkin scones with pumpkin pie spice, and your guests will enjoy them all day long with breakfast, lunch and dinner, and as snacks and dessert. The aroma of the pumpkin pie spices will linger in your kitchen for hours.
This is the classic finish to a Thanksgiving dinner — homemade spiced pumpkin pie with fresh pumpkin baked in a flaky butter crust.
If you're looking for something a little special to end your Thanksgiving dinner, this simple, light and creamy and not-too-sweet crustless pumpkin cheesecake with pumpkin spices will delight your guests.
Blueberry Lemon Cream Cheese Loaf
No pumpkin in the house? In that case, this "cheesecake" loaf bursting with fresh blueberries and a hint of lemon is moist, rich, creamy and delicious.
Caramelized Corsican Apple Tart
One of my favorite treats, this custardy caramelized cake loaded with gooey baked apples is deliciously decadent but surprisingly easy to make.
Sour Cream Blueberry Cake
Moist delicious glazed bundt cake bursting with blueberries in every bite, this is one of my favorite desserts for entertaining. Everybody loves it.
Olive Oil Almond Cake
If you're looking for a dessert that's not quite so rich and sweet but delicious and appealing as well, try this simple olive oil and almond cake — it's light enough to serve with your afternoon tea or coffee.
Homemade Peanut Butter Cups
Looking for some after dinner treats? These easy-to-make homemade chocolate peanut butter cups are rich and decadent — your guests will feel entirely spoiled.
Quick and Easy Healthy Peanut Butter Balls
Or if you're looking for a healthier guilt-free treat in the evening after a sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner, these quick and easy no-bake peanut butter balls are creamy, milky and wholesome — peanut buttery deliciousness in a bite-size ball.