Alternate eats: Tasting Thanksgiving through a different palate

By: Greg Perciavalle | The Duquesne Duke

Celebrated in some shape by everyone who loves a good meal, Thanksgiving celebrations as we know them have been held for hundreds of years before the iconic meal of peace and plenty between the Plymouth Rock pilgrims and the Native Americans.

But what if you’re a vegetarian, and the turkey has no appeal? Or adhering to a diet devoid of gluten? What if you want to break the traditional turkey mold? Those who can’t make it home or those who would rather not might be able to find a Thanksgiving meal in these alternatives to the classic feast, should they choose to consider this issue of The Duke to be a horn of plenty in itself.

Impress your vegetarian friends

Turkey, although the traditional bird centerpiece of Thanksgiving, is not a mandatory prerequisite for the late November feast. Instead, those who wish to avoid the bird at all costs might try serving a Tofurkey, a loaf of vegetarian friendly proteins such as tofu or seitan, a wheat protein, and stuffed with broth flavored bread similar to a stuffing. Abandon the topic of fowl entirely by serving halved acorn squashes, broiled flesh-up and served with butter, brown sugar and raisins. An Italian take on the holiday could inspire a spaghetti dish served with a squash sauté, or an eggplant parmesan served by itself or with a spaghetti pasta that would be at home on the Thanksgiving table. Stuffing can be made with the use of a vegetable broth instead of a chicken or turkey stock, and the optional pieces of meat can be easily omitted. Gravy can be made with the use of a vegetable broth as well.

Gluten be gone

People who must abstain from gluten, a protein often present in wheat and grains, are not left out in the cold. Those preparing a gluten free dinner must be sure to check their turkey’s label to see that it was not processed with the protein. Gluten free stuffing can easily be prepared by simply using a gluten free bread, and any additional meats like sausage or turkey used must also be gluten free. Gravies must also be prepared with gluten free labeled stocks, and thickened with corn starch instead of flour. Gluten free pies can be ordered at a bakery, or a gluten free pie crust mix can be bought and made at home. Though there is little that the common kitchen can do to remove gluten from every dish, ingredients that are already gluten free can easily be purchased in any grocery store’s rapidly growing gluten free section, featuring things like gluten free breads, buns, pastas and pastry mixes.

Turkey Day Take-out

If you are a student who is unable to leave the city for Thanksgiving, you will be pleased to find that many restaurants will be open on Thanksgiving Day. Many locations will be open, serving a special holiday meal. Atria’s in PNC Park is serving a three course Thanksgiving dinner from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. for $24.99. The Gateway Clipper is offering three 2 1/2 hour dinner cruises at 11a.m., 12 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., priced at $45 for adults and $20 for children 12 and under. Many other locations such as Mitchell’s Fish Market in the Waterfront, The Capital Grille on Fifth Avenue and the LeMont on Mount Washington will be open for the 28th. The others that aren’t listed can be found online, so be sure to check for your favorite restaurant’s Thanksgiving Day specials.