Turkey alternatives for the big day. And I’m not talking tofu.

Just because it’s Thanksgiving doesn’t mean turkey’s the only game in town.

And even if you can’t part from the tradition, you may want to consider an “alternative main event” beside that beautifully prepared bird.

Especially if some of your guests include vegetarians. Vegetarians don’t usually fit in at the traditional Thanksgiving meal. They sort of get relegated to the kids’ table, picking at a salad and a very large plate of candied yams. And they usually end up hearing certain relatives telling them “a bite of turkey won’t kill you!”

Well, here’s your chance to keep the peace at the table and look like a gourmet chef to boot.

How about:

  • Baked salmon: Since word of salmon’s amazing nutritional benefits have gotten out, it’s easy to find fresh salmon most everywhere. You can also find a good-sized portion of frozen, wild-caught salmon halves that can provide a perfect complement to your “bird of honor.”  Salmon cooks fast and it’s an easy dish to make. Look here for some salmon cooking tips.
  • Pan-fried scallops: A little more complex than cooking salmon, but about as “fancy” as it gets. If you live on the coast, like I do, and have a nearby fresh fish market, these can be a really succulent addition to your Thanksgiving table, which even turkey lovers will enjoy. Scallops are cooked best with butter, lots of butter. So if you’re going to include these marvelous mollusks on your menu, be sure not to forget the butter! For some scallop cooking tips, check out this page.
  • Gourmet mushroom lasagna: This can be a perfect alternative dish for any vegetarians among your guests — lasagna pasta layered with a mix of gourmet mushrooms and veggies. You can even ditch the tomato sauce in place of a white wine and cream sauce.
  • Pasta with white beans: This can be both a quick and easy dish when you really don’t feel like doing any more cooking, as well as a good main dish for any vegetarians at your table. Cooked rotini pasta is tossed with a sauce that’s made from a combination of a can of diced tomatoes, a drained can of white beans and added at the last step, fresh baby spinach leaves. Top with crumbled feta cheese.

And what’s best of all is that if you do have leftovers – as you invariably will – they’ll provide you with a lot more variety than just variations on turkey for the next week!

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