The Vegetarian Turkey: Killed it

Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays, and one of the few American things that I would really miss in New Zealand.  To help me to feel at home, my lovely in-laws have thrown a Thanksgiving dinner every year since Mr D & I got married.  This year, since we finally have our own house (with a dining room even!) we got to host it ourselves.  Exciting!  The in-laws came up from Nelson, and MIL cooked with me, so we’re continuing the tradition of doing it together.

A few weeks before Thanksgiving, I was talking about the holiday with a friend from Scotland.  She asked if I make a vegetable turkey  since I’m vegetarian (well, not actually vegetarian, just complicated).

“A vegetable turkey?  Like a tofurkey?”

“No.  Like this:”

Veggie Turkey Platter google search

She was joking.

But I instantly thought “OMG!  I want one!”

So I had lots of fun at the Sunday market buying vegetables, and just as much fun giggling and arranging them with MIL on Thanksgiving day, and despite the enormous potential for this idea to turn into a massive pinterest type fail, I think we did pretty well!

Veggie turkey platter thedreamstress.com


The only problem with creating an awesome turkey platter is that then you have to keep people from eating it until all of your guests have arrived and admired it.

Veggie turkey platter thedreamstress.com

It did go beautifully with beetroot-horseradish dip in the end though.

Veggie turkey platter thedreamstress.com

And now I have plans for an even better turkey next year…


  1. Tegan says

    YOU MADE XRIN TO GO WITH IT? Omg that is the best idea ever! Or rather, I shouldn’t assume. What was your beet/horseradish dip? Xrin is simply boiled beets, grated, and mixed with grated horseradish. It’s lovely spicy, and bright purple/red. And a splash of sugar and vinegar. But really, just a splash.

      • Haha! Perhaps the Slavic heritage explains my love of beets and horseradish – together or with other things! I don’t think I’ve heard of xrin before, but my beetroot dip is the following thrown in a blender and whizzed smooth:

        1 medium roasted beetroot
        1 cup sour cream (lite, because regular sour cream is all firm and gelatin-y and that grosses me out)
        3 TBS horseradish cream (I really want to try it with real horseradish root, but haven’t been able to find any in NZ)

        Easy-peasy, bright raspberry pink, and delicious. I’ve seen similar dips with mustard powder, but mine is the only one I know of with horseradish. I loved the idea of a beetroot dip, but the mustard versions didn’t have quite the balance and zing I wanted, so horseradish it is!

      • Not this Slavic culture, though. I guess we’re too far west for that.
        Although we do enjoy looking east for the meals. Not much of other things, especially now… but the beetroot-potato salad a Ukrainian friend taught my mom years ago is still one of her staples. 🙂

        But the vegetable turkey is a lot of fun!

        • Tegan says

          Ok maybe it’s a Ukrainian Catholic thing. But I think it’s elsewhere too. 😛

          But that dip sounds delicious — I love bright pink horseradish dips no matter their provenance. 😀

          And have you tried using Greek yogurt? Often people who don’t like sour cream get good results from a nice plain greek yogurt. It’s a little thicker, I believe, but also has probiotics!

          • Definitely elsewhere as well! Horseradish is, actually, popular here as well (we even used to grow it for a time when I was little). I was actually responding just to beetroot, which I did not make clear… It’s just not so deeply embedded in Czech kitchen arts as other things (although there’s a traditional children’s tale about a giant one, so that also may have been a more recent development).

            And through that first reaction, I forgot – Leimomi, that dip sounds very interesting, thanks for sharing! I wonder how the measurements would translate to real horseradish, seeing as I can get that around here.

          • Oh, and there’s a hilarious (when you’re old enough to know what it’s about) traditional Czech song, the sort you learn as a child, about a gardener who went into his garden and “dug up a huge rosemary” which, as the second verse helpfully explains, was actually horseradish. 😀

  2. Lyn Swan says

    Happy Thanksgiving! Greetings from Maine…Winter has come early here, on Thanksgiving day we received over a foot of heavy wet snow followed by freezing temperatures. Electricity was off for many, but is now on for everyone. In spite of it all, folks feasted, watched football and gave thanks for the good things in their lives. Do you have pumpkin pie there? My favorite part of the traditional meal. Thank you for this marvelous site. I have learned so much from you and have become an avid fan.
    By the way, I love the turkey…clever and colorful!

  3. Deanna says

    It’s so cute! I want to try one now.

    It’s really nice that your in-laws do Thanksgiving for you. It’s one of those holiday where you really miss your family when you aren’t with them.

    I’m also curious whether you’re able to make/get pumpkin pie (or pumpkin in general) in New Zealand. I remember reading about how hard it was for Americans in Britain to find pumpkin for Thanksgiving, and how desperate some were to get it.

  4. Grace Darling says

    Too funny…mauve & green – it’s a first wave feminist turkey!!

    Keep your eye out for a fun recipe book that was published by SPC in 1985, titled “Impressions of Food” [design, art-direction & food illustration Susan Tilley] It has quite a few bird & animal fruit & veggie sculptures.

    Are smorgasbords about to trend again or have I missed another curve?

    From whose garden did those lovely roses grow?

  5. I love this turkey, and I think you’ve really nailed it. It’s so cute and such a great way to cater for vegetarians when serving a traditionally meat-centric meal.

  6. Sandra says

    My sister is also an American who emigrated to New Zealand (Napier). She holds a thanksgiving dinner for friends and neighbors, but has never made a turkey as awesome as yours!

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