5 Meat-Free Holiday Dishes That Even Meat Lovers Will Drool Over

BRB, making all of these

The holidays are legit right around the corner, which means LOTS OF FOOD. While some of us dream of turkey, mini meatballs and loaded cabbage rolls (just my eastern European fam?), lots of us prefer the veggie life. And even if you’re not a vegetarian, it’s always nice to have a plant-based option between various courses of meat-heavy dishes (plz take note, grandma).

To get you in the mood for *joyful* holiday cooking, we asked the coolest cookbook ladies to share some of their fave recipes with us. From vegan blogger Lauren Toyota’s delish crab-less “crab” cakes to Deliciously Ella’s to-die-for roasted fennel bowl, here are unreal meat-free dishes that will wow even the biggest carnivores. And obvs, we included a cacao torte, because, dessert.

Vegan “crab” cakes

Vegan crab cakes on a bed of arugula

(Photo: Courtesy of Lauren Toyota)

Recipe from Lauren Toyota’s upcoming cookbookVegan Comfort Classics: 101 Recipes to Feed Your Face (Penguin Random House, $30). Makes: 10 cakes

What you’ll need

For the horseradish dill tartar sauce:

2/3 cup of vegan mayonnaise

3 tsp horseradish

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill

¼ tsp ground pepper

For the crab-less cakes:

2 cup marinated artichoke hearts

¼ cup finely chopped shallot

½ cup finely chopped celery

2 tbsp liquid from marinated artichokes

1 tsp lemon juice

½ cup chickpea flour

2 tsp coconut sugar

1 tsp Old Bay seasoning

¼ tsp ground pepper

¼ tsp sea salt

For the batter: 

¼ cup chickpea flour

1 ¼ cup multigrain bread crumbs

½ cup almond milk

1 ½ cup vegetable oil (for frying)

How to make it

In a small mixing bowl, stir together all the ingredients for the tartar sauce until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve the crab cakes.

Drain the marinated artichokes, reserving 2 tablespoons of the liquid to use in the mix. Finely chop the artichoke hearts and add to a large mixing bowl with the remaining ingredients for the crab cakes. Combine well with a fork.

Heat 1 ½ cups of vegetable oil in a large iron skillet to 350-375°F.

Set up a dredging station. Add chickpea flour to a wide shallow dish, use another shallow dish for the breadcrumbs and a bowl for the almond milk.

Take ¼ cup of the artichoke mixture and form a round thick patty with your hands. Place the crab cake in the chickpea flour and coat all sides evenly. Quickly submerge in almond milk and remove it from the liquid, then place in breadcrumbs. Using your hands, cover the crab cake in breadcrumbs—getting all sides well coated—then lightly shake off excess. Batter 2-3 at a time right before frying.

Delicately place 2-3 breaded crab cakes in hot oil at once, depending on the size of your pan. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown, flipping half way through.

Remove the cakes from the frying pan and place onto a plate covered with paper towel to absorb any excess oil.

Serve immediately with horseradish dill tartar sauce. Leftovers can be heated over medium heat in a pan that’s lightly coated with vegetable oil.

Sesame, cilantro and roasted fennel rice bowl 

A recipe from Ella Mill's new cookbook

(Photo: Clare Winfield)

Recipe from Deliciously Ella’s (a.k.a. Ella Mills) new cookbook, Natural Feasts: 100+ Healthy, Plant-Based Recipes to Share and Enjoy with Friends and Family (Simon & Schuster, $33). Serves: 2

What you’ll need

For the rice bowl: 

⅓ cup short-grain brown rice

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp tamari


1 fennel bulb

2 red bell peppers

Olive oil

2–4 tbsp cilantro

1 avocado

2 tbsp sesame seeds

For the dressing: 

4 garlic cloves, unpeeled

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp tamari

How to make it

Cook the brown rice in 1 cup water with the vinegar, tamari and salt to taste. This should take about 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Slice the fennel lengthwise. Cut each pepper into about 8 pieces. Place them on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 15–20 minutes, until the edges are browning. For the last 10 minutes, add the garlic cloves (they will be used in the dressing).

Let the rice, veg and garlic cool.

Finely chop the cilantro. Cut the avocado into bite-size chunks. Roughly chop the roast veg and stir into the rice, with the avocado and sesame seeds.

Make the dressing. Peel the garlic and mash with a fork (it should be really soft). Mix in all the other ingredients. Stir into the rice and sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve in a beautiful salad bowl.

Vegetarian lasagna tart 

A veggie tart dish in a pan

(Photo: Alexandre Champagne)

Recipe from Marilou and Alexandre Champagne’s new cookbook, Three Times a Day: Simple & Stylish (Anansi Press, $35). Serves: 6

What you’ll need

1 store-bought or homemade pastry tart shell or dough

2 tbsp plain breadcrumbs

1 ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

For the vegetable mixture:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 zucchini, cut into rounds

1 package (8oz) white button mushrooms, finely sliced

1 clove garlic, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup store-bought tomato sauce

6 cup baby spinach

¼ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped

1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano

For the ricotta: 

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 egg

Salt and pepper, to taste

How to make it

Preheat the oven to 375 °F, with the rack in the centre position.

Roll out the dough so it is big enough to line a 9-inch tart pan or pie dish. Dust the bottom of the pie shell with the breadcrumbs. Set aside.

In a pan, over high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the zucchini rounds, mushrooms, and garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes. Season.

Stir in the remaining vegetable mixture ingredients, reduce to low, and cook for 8 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste, and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together all the ricotta ingredients, and set aside.

Spread half of the vegetable mixture over the pastry. Top with the ricotta mixture ingredients, and set aside.

Spread half of the vegetable mixture over the pastry. Top with the ricotta mixture, and then the rest of the vegetables. Sprinkle all over with the mozzarella. Bake for 40 minutes.

Vegan Tex-Mex quinoa and sweet potato skillet

A tex-mex dish in a skillet

(Photo: Courtesy of Greta Podleski)

Recipe from Greta Podleski’s new cookbook, Yum & Yummer (Granet Publishing, $35). Serves: 4 to 6

What you’ll need

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup chopped onions

2 tsp minced garlic

1 small jalapeño pepper, minced (optional)

2 cup peeled, cubed sweet potatoes

1 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp gound cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp ground paprika

¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

1 can (14 oz/398 mL) fire-roasted diced tomatoes (with liquid)

1½ cup reduced-sodium vegetable broth

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 cup no-salt-added canned black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup whole kernel corn (thaw first if using frozen)

2 to 3 tbsp minced fresh cilantro

Sliced avocados and diced tomatoes for garnish (optional)

A deep, 10-inch, non-stick skillet with a lid

How to make it

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and jalapeño, if using. Cook and stir until onions are tender, which is about three minutes. Add sweet potatoes, chilli powder, cumin, coriander, paprika and cayenne, if using. Mix well.

Stir in tomatoes with their liquid, broth and quinoa. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until quinoa has absorbed liquid and sweet potatoes are tender.

Stir in beans and corn. Cover and let mixture stand for 10 minutes before serving. This step is important! Stir in cilantro just before serving and garnish with sliced avocados and diced tomatoes, if using.

Pitch-dark cacao torte

A chocolate torte

(Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Random House)

Recipe from Susan Jane White’s cookbook, Tasty. Naughty. Healthy. Nice: Whole Foods Made Sinfully Delicious (Penguin Random House, $36). Serves: 16

What you’ll need

For the base:

½ cup sticky dates, like Medjool dates

Up to 1 cup of walnuts

Zest of half an orange

2 tbsp carob, cacao or cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

For the filling:

1 (200 g) jar of cashew butter

1/2 ripe avocado (optional)

¼ cup water

5 tbsp raw cacao or cocoa powder

4 to 5 tbsp honey, or maple or date syrup

1 tbsp tamari

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 to 3 tbsp of cacao butter, melted

Bee pollen granules, to decorate (optional)

1 tea bag of raspberry leaf tea, to decorate (optional)

How to make:

Chop the dates into small pieces. Whiz in a high-speed blender with the remaining base ingredients until thoroughly socialized. You may need the teeniest splash of water to bring it together. Press the mixture firmly into a 7-inch springform circular pan. These are the funny sort of circular pans that detach from its sides. You could make a number of individual tarts, too, if you have a few cookie cutter rings. Aim for a thin base. Refrigerate. Any leftover mixture? Freeze for another torte-making day or add to your morning’s yogurt with blueberries.

To make the filling, cream the cashew butter, ripe avocado (if using), water, cacao, sweetener, tamari and vanilla in a powerful blender. You should have a dense, dark, glossy ganache by now. While the motor is running, slowly add a steady stream of melted cacao butter. Taste, and decide whether you’d like more sweetness from honey or perhaps a salty kick from tamari.

Once you’re happy, spread the filling over your base, decorate with bee pollen or raspberry leaf, and chill in the fridge. This torte is indecently good straight from the freezer, too.


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