The only thing I don’t look forward to about Thanksgiving is fielding the dreaded “You’re a vegetarian? What do you eat for Thanksgiving?” questions that have haunted me since I was a teenager. It’s not that the question doesn’t have merit as it is a holiday based around eating turkey but if you had a Thanksgiving dinner minus the turkey you’d still be passed out on the couch watching football and parades, trust me.
Growing up in an italian-american family meant pretty much anything we do would be based around food, in fact I am pretty sure we made up things like “going for a drive” only to end up at a random bakery. You would imagine that declaring yourself a vegetarian in such a setting would ostracize you faster than if you were Vito Spatafore on the Sopranos but not at the Pappalardo’s dinner table (Trivia – My dad wanted my name to be Vito…can you imagine?). It was more important to be part of the meal as a family than it was what you were actually eating, provided that it wasn’t coming out of a can of course (That’s a sin!). Both of my parents are excellent cooks and saw cooking for a vegetarian as a challenge they were up for, I turned things up a notch when I stopped eating dairy products as well.
Every Thanksgiving since that fateful day where I swore off eating meat my parents have gone out of their way to prepare a full meal for me chock full of all the holiday staples prepared without meat or dairy. I’m thankful for this every year and can’t praise my parents enough for doing this for me without a hint of grief. I asked my Mom and Dad to each submit a recipe for the blog, unfortunately my timing couldn’t have been any worse as my father Tom was already knee deep in preparing for the meal, I didn’t inherit his planning skills obviously. He takes preparing a meal seriously and needed to focus, you my fellow blog readers might lose out but I’ll reap the benefits in about 24 hours. Despite juggling a million things including being a college professor my mother Francine was able to email me a simple and hearty staple at our table, stuffed mushrooms. While everyone else is enjoying these appetizers prepared with a little crab meat or sausage I’ll be putting the veg version away and budgeting out my stomach for maximum holiday bliss. Enjoy and thank you again to my Mom and Dad for all their help!
Vegetarian Baked Stuffed Mushrooms by Francine Pappalardo
6-8 Stuffing size Mushrooms with stems removed ( at least 2 inch diameter size)
1 sleeve of Ritz crackers (crushed )
2-4 Tablespoons of soy butter
Fresh Parsley finely chopped about 2 Tablespoons
1 Tsp garlic powder
2 Tablespoonsfinely chopped walnuts ( optional)
In a little greased ( cooking spray is fine) saute pan under low- medium heat combine all ingredients except mushrooms. Stir to combine and gently heat . Do not brown. Remove from pan and reserve
Pre-heat oven to 350. Place Mushrooms with stems removed and cap side down in a lightly greased baking pan. Using a spoon fill each of the mushrooms with the prepared crumb mixture. Spray with cooking spray and place in oven with a cover of aluminum foil for 10- 15 minutes. Remove foil cover and continue to bake for about 15 minutes more or until the crumbs have browned.
Simple perfection, Happy Thanksgiving from all of us!