The Turkey Alternative





By now you’ve probably had your fill of all things Thanksgiving. Originally, I’d thought to write about Thanksgiving alternatives like the dinner of a man I knew whose family didn’t like turkey but adored lobster.

Then I heard, as I do each year, from a good friend who lived in the US for many years and now lives in Berlin.  She used to celebrate Thanksgiving in Europe even though it was challenging to locate cranberries and other typically ‘American’ foods. This year, she wrote that she’d given up trying to celebrate a holiday that had no roots in anything German and had thrown herself into St. Martin’s Day, celebrated on November 11. German children walk through the streets carrying lanterns and then have a bonfire. Later, they go from house to house asking for candy as American kids do at Halloween.

St Martin of Tours

St Martin of Tours  started out as a Roman soldier but later became a monk and ultimately Bishop of Tours in France. Among the many legends about him is the story of when he cut his cloak in half during a snowstorm to share it with a beggar so that the beggar didn’t die of cold. Another story tells of Martin hiding in the barn to avoid the throngs who wanted to take him to be appointed Bishop (why he was so modest, I have no idea). A flock of geese began cackling and gave away his hiding place which is why goose is the favorite food on Saint Martin’s Day.

I won’t deal with a goose recipe because I’ve never made one and don’t have any desire to. If I could even locate a bird, it sounds like a very greasy, messy undertaking. My digression is back to a Thanksgiving alternative which was two huge lasagnas, brought to Vermont where part of the family had already done the turkey thing on actual Thanksgiving. Since we’d all had bird, stuffing, numerous veggies and potatoes, I thought the group would welcome a change. One lasagna was the typical kind with chopped beef and tomato sauce. The other, to accommodate the vegetarians among us, was meatless. Both were lapped up by all ages.

Here’s the recipe for the vegetable version:

Spinach, mushroom and carrot lasagne


 Vegetable Lasagne


1 (10 ounce) package frozen choppedspinach29 ounces Alfredo-style pasta  sauce (2 jars)–unless you prefer to make the sauce yourself

1/2 cup skim milk

8 oz.  lasagna noodles-(about 1/2 the box)  cooked  according to package directions just before you are ready to assemble

1 pint part-skim milk ricotta cheese

1 egg

8 oz shredded carrots

8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced

½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 x 13 inch lasagna pan with cooking spray OR put 1 T butter on it and let it sit in the warming oven to melt and swirl it around the pan.
Microwave the spinach 4 minutes. Put it in a colander and press with a paper towel to remove as much water as possible.Mix in ricotta. Lightly beat the egg and add it to the spinach and ricotta. Stir well to blend.
Combine Alfredo sauce with milk in a medium bowl. Mix well.
Spread about 1/2 cup Alfredo / milk sauce mixture evenly in the bottom of the dish. Place 3 noodles over the sauce. Spread half the spinach mixture over the noodles. Sprinkle with half of the carrots and half of the mushrooms. Place 3 more noodles over the vegetable mixture. Pour 1 1/2 cups sauce over the noodles. Spread the remaining spinach mixture over the sauce, followed by layers of the remaining carrots and mushrooms. Place 3 more noodles over the vegetables. Pour remaining sauce evenly on top. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake.The recipe I used said bake 50-60 minutes but mine was done at 45 so check.This freezes beautifully. If you freeze it, allow plenty of time to reheat—mine took almost two hours in a hot oven.  Gobble, gobble or bon appetito!




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3 Responses to The Turkey Alternative

  1. Elayne Glotzer says:

    Thanks again for the story and the recipe. Sounds pretty good, even if it is vegetarian.
    Love, Elayne

  2. Peter says:

    Our Thanksgiving was so wonderfully traditional. Kids, pumpkins, songs and poems AND Turkey, et al.
    Everyone at the table must have a poem or song, an idea we started eons ago.
    Callie sang beautifully, Pete and family contributed songs and Alex had her poem, too.
    I read Geo. Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789 – which none had heard.
    Two pies; Susie’s grandma’s pumpkin pie and latice-work crust on the apple pie -all delish (w. vanilla ice cream OR ‘real’ whipped cream- fielder’s choice) Some had both..
    Weight was gained – belts were loosened – walking the dogs helped- the dogs….

    • marigold says:

      Sounds terrific. Fifteen people in our VT house works but, as each group left, the house got a little quieter. The lasagne was only one item among many and there are still too many leftover desserts in the fridge here. Going back to NYC tomorrow will make it (slightly) easier to toss. Thanksgiving is a great holiday since it’s all about gathering with no presents, differing points of view etc. Our cats had their first 1:1 with daughter in law Sam’s yellow Lab which was not a total success. Think cats breathed a big sigh when Suzie, the dog, departed.