A vegetarian Thanksgiving feast: 5-course seasonal menu with wine pairing and game plan!

Place setting for Thanksgiving

As a junior in college and a new immigrant to this country, I was quick to adopt Thanksgiving as my favorite holiday. We Americans may have inherited this ritual of giving thanks from the Pilgrims, but throughout history people of all nations have celebrated harvest time with a feast.

Now that’s where I get very excited about this special holiday. Cooking being my passion, having the chance to make a feast is something I anticipate with great joy each year.

When planning my own Thanksgiving menu, I follow the original spirit of this special holiday and let the abundance of the harvest itself guide me. Since I do most of my shopping at our local farmers’ markets from spring through fall, I’m familiar with the gorgeous produce they offer and the succession of crops.

Even at the end of November, there’s still a marvelous assortment of fresh veggies and fruits to choose from: Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, gorgeous red beets, leafy greens, pumpkins and winter squashes, apples and pears… the list goes on and on, and out of it my menu takes shape beautifully.

From the first bite of the spicy beet-green crostini and the first sip of the sumptuous pear Bellini to the last morsel of dessert, the mood for this feast is set. May it inspire you to create a Thanksgiving feast that is as delicious as it is joyful — in the true spirit of giving thanks!

Decanting Bonny Doon Vineyard, Le Cigare Volant 2003 and 2006


Featuring wines from Bonny Doon Vineyard

Spicy beet-green crostini
Endive boats with fresh ricotta and baked beets
Marinated olives with fennel, lemon and chili pepper
Pear Bellini

Winter squash soup with citrus-mint pesto
Celeriac and apple salad with watercress and Meyer lemon-shallot vinaigrette
Bonny Doon, Le Cigare Blanc

Shiitake mushroom and Yukon gold potato gratins with fresh herbs
Roasted butternut squash with garlic and sage
Maple-glazed pan-roasted Brussels sprouts with chestnuts
Cauliflower purée with parmesan and thyme
Cranberry-fig chutney
Bonny Doon, Syrah “Le Pousseur”

Apple-pear crisp with macadamia crumb and Calvados Chantilly
Bonny Doon, Le Vol des Anges

Pots and pans

Game Plan

Buy wines

Buy vegetables and groceries (I like to buy the veggies as close to the time I need them as possible. The longer they sit in the refrigerator, the more they lose both nutrition and flavor!)
Wash beet greens, spin dry, place in large Ziplock bag and refrigerate
Cut baguette in slices for the crostini, place in large Ziplock bag and freeze

Bake the beets and refrigerate
Make soup and pesto and refrigerate
Make the marinated olives and refrigerate

Set table and prep house
Make the vinaigrette for the salad and refrigerate
Wash the watercress, place in large Ziplock bag and refrigerate
Toast the pine nuts for the salad and store in a sealed container
Blanch Brussels sprouts and refrigerate
Make cranberry chutney and refrigerate
Make Calvados Chantilly and refrigerate
Cut butternut squash, place in large Ziplock bag and refrigerate

Make apple-pear crisp
Make gratins
Roast Butternut squash
Make cauliflower purée
Prep the beets for the endive boats
Slice the beet greens and garlic for the crostini
Slice the shallots for the spinach salad
Prep the ingredients for the Brussels sprouts

Take out the olives, soup and chutney from the refrigerator
Assemble the endive boats

Serve Bellini, olives and endive boats
Toast the baguette slices, sauté the beet greens and assemble crostini. Serve warm

Reheat soup and serve

Slice the celeriac and apples. Assemble salad and serve

Reheat gratins and butternut squash in the oven
Reheat cauliflower purée
Sauté Brussels sprouts
Plate main course and serve

Reheat dessert and serve



(click on the photos for the recipes)

Spicy beet-green crostini

Endive boats with fresh ricotta and baked beets

Marinated olives with fennel, lemon and chili pepper

Pear bellini

Winter squash soup with citrus-mint pesto

Celeriac and apple salad with watercress and Meyer lemon-shallot vinaigrette

Shiitake mushroom and Yukon gold potato gratins

Roasted butternut squash with garlic and sage

Maple-glazed Brussels sprouts with chestnuts

Cauliflower purée with parmesan and thyme

Cranberry-fig chutney

Apple-pear crisp with macadamia crumb and Calvados Chantilly


  1. Are you Vegetarian as I am not but did like the suggestions and they looked Yummy, will try some of them

    • Viviane Bauquet Farre

      Hi Sonia, I am thrilled you’ll try some of the dishes on this menu. To me, Thanksgiving is a harvest feast, and veggies abound at this time of the year. This menu is a celebration of that abundance. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  2. Such an amazing holiday menu and those photos are simply droolworthy, Viviane.

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  5. I love reading your stories Viviane. Everytime you talk about the local farmers markets I think how lucky you are. Enjoy them! Great recipes, so many to pick from. Thank you!

    • Thank you so much Donna! I do feel so very lucky that we have such great farmers’ markets in our county… I hope one day you’ll have one near you too. Wishing you and Rich a beautiful and delicious holiday!

  6. This is an inspired menu – and beautiful photos too! Thanks for sharing!

  7. This is exactly what I need! I’m making my first Thanksgiving dinner and I need some instructions. Last year I celebrated with my boyfriend who’s from New York, so he was in charge of the great American feast. But this year, it’s just me. And I’m Swedish. So, a little guidance was more than welcome. Merci Beaucoup

  8. Dear Viviane,

    I do so wish I lived near you!!! Your menu, which I found from Marc’s facebook post is simply mouth watering. I wish the people I have coming for dinner tomorrow would be more adventurous. …and they are NOT my family!!! My family loves to eat anything that is out of the ordinary that I cook…but alas, they are not going to be in town this Thanksgiving.

    Hope you have a wonderful day. Enjoy your wonderful meal.


  9. A well thought Thanksgiving menu… amazing dishes, fabulous photos and a great post! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  10. wow viviane, this is something else. I love how organised you are…i thought I was organised but you have put me well and truly to shame 🙂

    I am actually having my very first thanksgiving with some friends of mine from nth america…we’re all pitching in and making a few dishes each so it will be great, i’m sure

    • Jenny! You are so great… And I bet you’re more organized than you think. I wish you and your friend a beautiful and delicious Thanksgiving… All the way in Amsterdam…

  11. What a gorgeous and impressive menu and post of some beautiful dishes. You are so organized and gifted. I’m especially fond of the Endive Boats with Fresh Ricotta and Roasted Beets and Apple-Pear Crisp with Macadamia Crumb you’ve featured. My goodness…you’ve absolutely put me to shame and something to aspire to.

    Have a lovely holiday!

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  13. Wow. Just gorgeous.

  14. lovely pictures delicious

  15. Elizabeth Gaeta I gave you the 365 Balsamic vinegar and my nephew is the one who knows where the secret patch of organic watercress is!


    Your recipes are wonderful, your website is beautiful, and having been to your home and enjoyed your classes, your sense of style is extraordinary. When will you write your cookbook?

    Thank you so much for the pleasure you bring to us.

    • Elizabeth! Thank you so much for your kind words and for stopping by. I am so very touched! I am very glad you enjoyed the new site. It’s been a work of love – lots of both! I am hoping to start working on a cookbook in 2011. If it happens, it will be the realization of a life-long dream.

      Thank you again for the gift of the balsamic. You have no idea how often I think of you and your generosity! Wishing you and your family a beautiful and delicious Thanksgiving…

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  17. For sure every thanksgiving meal you have will be a savory one 🙂

  18. Hi Erica,
    How about making caramelized sweet onions instead of the mushrooms? You can sauté 3lbs of thinly sliced red or Vidalia onions until golden brown, then add the garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and continue to sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. You can proceed with the recipe as above.
    If you try this, do stop by again and let me know how it turns out… In fact I think I will do this version myself very soon!
    Thank you so much for your comment 🙂

  19. Like everyone else, I am in awe of this menu and the detailed plan. Thank you! Question: My partner and I do not like mushrooms. Can you recommend a substitute/variation on the Individual Gratins with Shiitake Mushrooms and Yukon Gold Potatoes dish?

  20. I’m book marking this entire meal for next year, but we did try the spinach salad and could eat it everyday! Thanks so much for posting for the vegetarians! -Sarah, Park Slope Kitchen

  21. A friend urged me to read this site, great post, fascinating read… keep up the good work!

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  27. We’re going to have about 30 people in my little house for Thanksgiving. We supply the wines and the turkey and our guests are each assigned a dish to make. I’m going to assign several of your recipes and can’t wait to enjoy them on Thursday! Vivianne you are the best!

  28. This is awesome! Thanks for this post. I’m planning a vegetarian Thanksgiving fete myself. My menu won’t be as elaborate–I’m thinking a savory pie, mashed sweet potatoes, sauteed garlicky greens, cornbread stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce with orange zest and juice, as well as a pumpkin pie with chocolate and hazelnuts. Can’t wait! I love your game plan! Super useful!

  29. Wow! What a fabulous menu! I love that you included a “game plan”. That is definitely the key to making Thanksgiving prep-vegetarian or otherwise-a breeze. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful ideas! I love the first photo-so elegant and beautiful!

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  31. Viviane-

    I am inspired!!! I can see the joy you are taking in planning this feast, and I’m sure its only going to multiply when you get to create, serve, and relish it!

    As Thanksgiving is a small affair at my place, only my husband and I, it can be hard to gather some enthusiasm – but I am going to try some news things this year. I like the cauliflower puree with the herbs to infuse (I never added herbs to mine!) and the brussels sprouts with some added sweetness of maple. I also think the fig addition to cranberry sauce is brilliant!

    Thanks for the wonderful post!!!

    Georgie Fear

    • Georgie!

      Thank you so much for your wonderful words! I wish you and your husband a fabulous thanksgiving… Our New Years Eve dinner is usually just my husband and I, and I always make a feast for it too (albeit a smaller one!!!)… So I hope you enjoy every minute of preparing your Thanksgiving meal… Even for two it’s exciting!

      This year, I’ll be making a whole new menu and testing new recipes… Hopefully I’ll be able to publish them all next next! I can’t wait…

  32. Thank you so much for sharing all this information in such detail. I’m sure it relieves worlds of stress to have such an intricate game plan! And all your recipes look so delicious.

  33. That is the perfect feast! I want to eat at your house!

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  35. I’m not cooking for Thanksgiving but I love this for my Christmas presentation. I think with that menu and simply adding a turkey, I’ll be able to please everyone while secretly cooking mainly for ME!!!!

  36. Wow, this is such a beautiful menu. We don’t have thanksgiving over here in the UK but I would still definetly love to try these dishes. Gorgeous pictures!

  37. Wow! Everything looks amazing! And not a tofurky in sight – bravo!

  38. wow, what a great plan. bet you’ll have an amazing Thanksgiving!

  39. This is so beautiful. Our Canadian Thanksgiving is past (was October 12th) but I want to make at least 3 of these courses/recipes for next year. (I realize duplicating the entire feast is way beyond my abilities.)

    In my work as a dietitian, I often work with people who have swallowing problems (dysphagia). May I share the Cauliflower Purée recipe with them? So often people equate pureed with unpalatable but you prove how delicious and appetizing this texture can be.

    Thank you for creating the most beautiful food post I have read this year. And so helpful too.

  40. Beautiful! It’s SO nice to see a Thanksgiving post without turkey.

  41. I am not a vegetarian but will try these – amazing array of delicious dinners.

  42. What an incredible feast! Everything looks perfectly lovely and delicious.

  43. WOWOWOWOWOW what an effort and a fabulous menu so many photos and so many recipes and all vegetarian. Well done superb job on this. You are one great chef. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

  44. Viviane,
    Not only have you provided a spectacular menu here, your tips, plan ahead guide, and mouthwatering photos have supplied enough inspiration to carry it through in its entirety—well done!!

  45. ABSOLUTELY AWESOME! I’ve been a vegetarian since 1976 – actually the only one in my family. Thanksgiving has never been one of my favorite days due to the turkey cooking odors drifting throughout the home.

  46. This is simply outstanding. I’m just… outstandified by this post! I’m not vegetarian, but I do love meatless recipes that really take the ingredient and use it with respect. I know some people are die hard turkey eaters for this holiday, but this meal is so elegant, I’d happily give up turkey for this.

  47. Beautiful meal and everything so exquiste! My favourite – Spicy Beet–Green Crostini. YUM!

  48. Oh my, this meal sounds absolutely amazing! I love your photos as well!

  49. I am simply speechless! You can totally debunk the myth that Thanksgiving is incomplete without a Turkey. You won’t even need a Tofurkey!

    The ingredient pairings you use are elegant and inspired, your plan-ahead tips would help even the most disorganized, and the pictures are so mouthwatering I want to have that Thanksgiving meal now!

    Thanks, I will definitely be using some of these as inspiration for my own Thanksgiving meal!

    By the way, I created a Poached Pears w/ Yogurt & Granola the other day – linked back to your site because that was where I got the inspiration – from your poached pear sundae!

    • Shelly! Thank you so much for your comment. You know… the harvest season is so abundant, I like to focus on the wonderful veggies and let them inspire the menu. It’s not hard… they do all the work… 🙂

      Thank you also for the mention of my Maple-Poached Pears in your blog. You are so, so kind! I am very happy they inspired such a lovely recipe…

      And I want to thank everyone else for their fabulous comments! You just all warm my heart and I’m thrilled that you love the menu… Thank you!!!

  50. talk about fancy and delish! everything looks wonderful, I am not a vegetarian but I would definitely eat everything here.

  51. Viviane, your vegetarian Thanksgiving is amazing. I bought a huge bag of spinach at costco so I want to try your Baby Spinach Salad. Congratulations, you’ve done so much work and it’s appreciated!!!!

  52. You are amazing. This sounds like the perfect vegetarian Thanksgiving, and you’re so organized it’s ridiculous. We haven’t even figured out tonight’s dinner. Serious foodie props to you. Wish we could come over to your house for Thanksgiving dinner!

  53. Looks like a wonderful Thanksgiving!! Love the pairing with Bonny Doon wines DELISH!

  54. Thank you! This is awesome…I love Bonny Doon wine!

  55. wow, extremely impressive and well thought out. the day by day game plan is very helpful, and the food all looks perfectly delicious. what a wonderful Thanksgiving feast!

  56. The featured items sound delicious! I can’t wait to bring some of them to my family’s Thanksgiving.

  57. Oh. my. goodness. This is what I dream a thanksgiving table would look like. Sounds perfect. Beautiful food to celebrate this season of thanks.
    Thank you.

  58. Wow! What an informative and full post. I am quite impressed and glad I saw it. The gratins look beautiful.

  59. Dana! Oh you broke my heart… I so wish you could eat with us! That would be quite a treat, A “Dana Treat”!!!

    And you make me feel incredibly grateful for my family AND my husband’s family. For the last several years I have been the one hosting all the holiday meals, including Thanksgiving. I’ve never made turkey, but rather a version of the meal on this post. It’s always a long, jovial, multi-course meal that last for hours. I am the only vegetarian in the crowd and no one has ever missed the turkey (not even my nieces!) or complained about it.

    So, yes, I am very grateful… and looking forward to preparing the next feast – only two weeks away!

  60. Oh this post just makes me want to sob. What a gorgeous and perfect meal this is. I will be hosting our Thanksgiving feast for the foreseeable future – the baton was passed to me last year by my mom. There is no way I can get out of making a turkey or all the dishes that everyone expects (stuffing, etc). Maybe I can make all the food for our group and then eat at your house! 🙂 Thank you for all the incredible recipes.

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