Part two: A vegan Thanksgiving…and then some.

Quinoa pilaf; photo by H. Kirby

Holly Kirby spent 12 years as chef at one of Bucks County’s best vegetarian restaurants. Here she shares some of her favorite holiday dishes. Full of seasonal ingredients, many of the recipes could be used as side dishes and/or as an entrée for the vegetarian or vegan at your table. Read more of her recipes at her blog, The American Vegetarian

by guest blogger Holly Kirby,

Here’s the rest of Holly’s delicious Thanksgiving menu. See Part One here.

Pumpkin, Crimini and Kale Cannelloni

The thing I love most about baked pasta dishes is that you can make it in advance and just heat and serve. It’s also a great way to feed a crowd. This makes an excellent main course for the veggies at your table but also a wonderful side with your traditional Thanksgiving menu. Short on time and don’t want to make fresh pasta? Dried lasagna noodles work great as well.

It may seem like a lot of steps to cook each component of the filling separately but it’s so worth it. Layering the flavors with each ingredient takes this cannelloni to the next level.


1 medium or 2 small sized sugar pumpkin or butternut squash
Extra virgin olive oil
10 passes with grater of freshly grated nutmeg
1 ½ pounds crimini mushrooms
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 bunches of kale, washed, stems removed and ripped into 2 inch pieces
1 pinch of red pepper flake
Sea salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 recipe of thyme and black pepper pasta (recipe to follow) or 2 boxes dried lasagna noodles
1 recipe of pumpkin cashew cream sauce (recipe to follow and you’ll have extra to serve on the side)

Pumpkin, Crimini Mushroom & Kale Cannelloni; photo by H. Kirby


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Peel and dice pumpkin into ½ inch cubes.  Toss with olive oil to coat, and 1 tsp. of salt and the grated nutmeg. Transfer to a half-sheet pan and spread out pumpkin in an even layer.  Roast in oven for about 15 minutes until the pumpkin is cooked through but not mushy. Set aside to cool.
  3. Wipe down the crimini mushrooms with a damp towel, remove stems and cut in quarters. In a saute pan on medium high, add olive oil to coat the pan, then add the crimini mushrooms and thyme.  Saute, stirring often until mushrooms are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Finish with a pinch of salt.  Set aside to cool.
  4. On medium high heat, coat the same sauté with olive oil. Add the kale, red pepper flakes and salt.  Stir to coat the kale in oil. Cover with a lid for 5 minutes to wilt the greens. Then remove the lid and stir until the kale is tender. Add pepper to taste.
  5. Bring a large stock pot of salted water to a boil.  If using dried lasagna noodles, follow the instructions on package.  For fresh pasta, roll out the dough with a pasta maker or with a rolling pin to ⅛ inch thick, ands cut pasta into 5 inch squares. Cook pasta for 3-5 minutes, carefully drain and brush with oil to prevent sticking.
  6. Grease two (9 x 13) baking dishes.
  7. Lay pasta out flat, add a thin layer of pumpkin, crimini and kale to the top third of the piece.  Roll up and place cut side down in baking dish close to each other.
  8. Top with pumpkin cashew cream sauce down the center, leaving the outer inch on each side to get golden and crispy.
  9. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes. Then remove the foil and place back on top rack of the oven to brown.
  10. Rest 10 minutes before serving.

If you were afraid to make fresh pasta before, give this fail-proof recipe a try. It’s so simple in the food processor and really takes no time at all.

I can’t think of a better way to tell someone you love them then a huge bowl of freshly made pasta.  This thyme and black pepper pasta works perfectly with the pumpkin, crimini and kale filling for the cannelloni but would be delicious as any type of pasta.


Thyme and Black Pepper Fresh Pasta


1 cup “00” flour (all-purpose works fine too)
1 cup semolina flour
½  tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. fresh thyme leave
Black pepper to taste
½ cup water

Pasta_step by step; photo by H. Kirby


  1. In the bowl of a food processor, add flours and salt, and pulse until combined.
  2. With the processor running on low, add olive oil, thyme leaves and pepper.  Then slowly pour in water until dough just starts to form a ball.  Knead a few times and wrap in plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes to let the gluten relax.
  3. You can store the pasta in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Fresh pasta likes to cook in a large stockpot with lots of salted water.  It cooks much faster than dried pasta so start checking after about 4 minutes.


Pumpkin Cashew Cream Sauce

Pumpkin Cashew Cream Sauce; photo by H. KirbyCreamy, nutty and delicious. Perfect with pasta or with any recipe calling for an Alfredo or cheese sauce.

To make cashew cream, soak the cashews overnight in the refrigerator. You have to plan this recipe but it is so worth it.


2 cups raw cashews
¼ cup olive oil
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 sprigs of thyme
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ cups pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable stock
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Cashew Cream; photo by H. Kirby


This sauce reheats beautifully. Feel free to make it the day before.

  1. Rinse cashews under cold water, transfer into a medium bowl and cover with cold water.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  2. After the cashews have soaked overnight, drain in colander.  Transfer into a blender, cover with cold water until cashews are just covered. Blend until smooth.
  3. Put a heavy bottom pot on medium and add olive oil, shallots, garlic, thyme and salt. Stir and sauté until the shallots are translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  4. Add pumpkin and fold into shallot mixture, mixing often to almost cook the pumpkin puree, about 6 minutes.
  5. Pour in vegetable stock, scrapping the bottom of the pan to get any brown bits.  Pour in 2 cups of cashew cream, and turn down the heat to medium low.  Add freshly grated nutmeg to taste.
  6. Heat until sauce is hot and thick. Remove thyme stems and check for seasoning.
  7. Serve immediately (or reheats beautifully).


Pumpkin Tiramisu

This is a delicious, easy, no bake, make-ahead dessert.  It’s creamy, luscious and a show stopper. If you have a trifle dish, now’s the time to pull it out and put it to good use.

This recipe takes about 10 minutes after you brew the coffee. Make it the night before or the morning of, so the flavors have time to marry together.


2 (8 oz) Tofutti cream cheese, room temperature
1 (10 oz) can pumpkin puree
3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. brandy ( I use pear)
2 tsp. Chinese 5-spice
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 ½ tsp. freshly grated ginger
1 cup confectioner’s sugar (I use organic)
1 cup strongly brewed coffee & 2 Tbsp. maple syrup, for dipping
1 ½ packages of Biscoff brand cookies
1 cup toasted or maple pecans, chopped

Tiramisu step-by-step; photo by H. Kirby


  1. In a large mixing bowl, add Tofutti cream cheese and pumpkin puree, and blend together until combined with hand or stand mixer.
  2. Add maple syrup (3 Tbsp.), vanilla, brandy, Chinese 5-spice, cinnamon, ginger and confectioner sugar. Blend until all ingredients are combined and mixture is fluffy.
  3. Pour coffee and maple syrup in a shallow container and set aside after giving it a stir.
  4. Dip each Biscoff cookie in coffee for about one second before lining the trifle bowl, just to get a little liquid absorbed into the cookie but not too much to make them mushy.
  5. Line the bottom of the trifle with dipped cookies in an even layer, breaking the cookies if needed.
  6. Line the bowl with cookies upright around the sides of the bowl.
  7. Fill the center with ⅓ of the pumpkin filling, and smooth with spatula.
  8. Sprinkle ⅓ cup of chopped pecans over the pumpkin filling and add another layer of cookies.
  9. Add the 2nd third of the pumpkin filling followed by another ⅓ cup pecans.
  10. Top with last layer of cookies and then last third of pumpkin filling.
  11. Sprinkle with the remainder of pecans and cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  12. Before serving dust the top with cinnamon.
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