Vegan Recipe: Holiday Cranberry-Wild Rice Casserole
Winter holidays set the perfect stage for showing off a luscious vegan table! Try this deliciously easy casserole for your next holiday celebration. This Thanksgiving, rejoice in family traditions that reflect your own values of compassion and nonviolence — possibly tempered with just a tiny bit of gluttony!
- 3 cups light or ‘unchicken’ veggie broth (such as Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken soup base, mixed with water per package directions)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon ground thyme
- ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
- ½ tablespoon real maple syrup (not ‘maple-flavored pancake syrup’)
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 2 cups cubed seitan, sliced mushrooms, or cubed tofu (baked or pan-fried) — see below
- 1-1/4 cups wild rice blend
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 leek, green and white parts, washed well, chopped, and tough outer leaves removed
- 1/3 cup chopped raw pecans
- 1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- salt, to taste (exactly how much will depend on the broth you use)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Mix all ingredients in 2-quart casserole dish, cover, and bake about 1 hour 15 minutes until rice is done and liquid is absorbed.
For seitan, try Sunday Roast and Roots made with unchicken broth — either Better Than Bouillon, or light veggie stock with 1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning, 1 teaspoon real maple syrup, and 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil per 3 cups of broth, plus salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy the roast for dinner earlier in the week, and use leftovers for this casserole. If you prefer, prepackaged seitan can be found in health food stores or well-stocked supermarkets.
For tofu, drain and press two packages of extra-firm tofu for at least 15 minutes (no real need to press longer, for this recipe); cut lengthwise to make 1/2″ thick slices. Marinate at least 15 minutes or overnight, in broth (as for seitan, above) to cover. Remove from marinade, bake 1 hour at 325 degrees, turning once; or pan fry about 10 minutes each side in large nonstick skillet, over medium heat, until golden brown.
If you’re in a hurry and want to use tofu, skip the marinating: just drain and press tofu, then slice and pan fry until lightly browned on each side; sprinkle both sides of tofu slices with salt, poultry seasoning, and pepper. Cut into cubes, and add to casserole. Prepackaged baked tofu can also be found in health food stores, or in well-stocked supermarkets — this kind of tofu needs no additional prep. Just chop it up and add it to the other ingredients.
Lentil Sage Field Roast (or any kind of Field Roast!) makes a good quick substitute for seitan or tofu in this recipe, if you have good grocery stores nearby; and if you don’t mind a bit of a spicy kick, the Tofurky Italian Sausage works well too.
In a pinch you can substitute sauteed cremini, portabellini, or (my favorite) oyster mushrooms for the seitan or tofu — just saute them in a little olive oil with salt, pepper and a good shake of poultry seasoning, until they release their moisture and become slightly tender (about 5 minutes over medium heat). Cool, chop, and proceed.
I make a big batch of veggie broth at the beginning of most weeks; if you do that, roasts and casseroles come together super easily. For this recipe, if you’re using seitan leftovers (or pre-made baked tofu, Field Roast, seitan, or Tofurky sausages) and broth leftovers, total prep time is just about 5 minutes to chop seitan, leek, and celery and then mix everything together. For Thanksgiving purposes, this characteristic is especially handy!
Variation: stir about 1 cup sweet potato, acorn squash, or butternut squash (peeled and cubed) into casserole with other ingredients, before baking.
For more vegan Thanksgiving ideas, check out Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s podcast episode titled Thanksgiving FOR the Birds.
Image credit: Creative Commons photo by veganheathen.
Special thanks to Aimee Brimmer and family, for valuable recipe-testing services during the R & D phase of this dish!