From Soil to City

A Vegetarian Thanksgiving, Part I

By Ella Miller, creative vegetarian cook and CSA site leader at Greenpoint’s Pencil Factory bar.

November is upon us, and that means preparations for Thanksgiving! To me it represents a big, long table spanning various rooms of my childhood home, the delicious smells, and a time to sit together, and share a meal. As a member of the Local Roots CSA community, I’m giving thanks to local!

These days, you’ll likely be hosting one or more vegetarians at your Thanksgiving table, and you may be wondering what to feed those “Thanksgiving heathens.” Or maybe you’re a new vegetarian, trying to figure out what in the world you are going to stack on your plate while the rest of the table is covering their plates with turkey!

Being a vegetarian at Thanksgiving can be bland if you come from a family that adds meat to every dish – including the vegetable sides.  For me, Thanksgiving dinner meant a plate full of bread rolls and potatoes.  This doesn’t have to be your fate, though, if you start now!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some easy ways to make some of the most traditional dishes vegetarian, without compromising their tastiness (but in my opinion, this makes them better!). I will also share some awesome vegetable sides that I’ve incorporated into my Thanksgiving table that are hearty, delicious and vegetarian-friendly.

This week, we’ll start with the basics. The first step on our journey is to make (or buy) vegetable stock. Making stock is SUPER easy and a great way to use up old vegetable scraps! Using veggie stock in place of turkey or chicken stock for your stuffing makes thanksgiving more accommodating to non-meat-eating guests.

(And let’s not forget a crucial ingredient to homemade stuffing is the bread – I plan to use challah straight from Orwasher’s Bakery through our Pop Up Thanksgiving CSA!)

The photo below is the before and after pic of vegetable stock. Your stock pot will look different, depending on what you have eaten lately, and the time of year. Lately, my pot has included onion butts, corn cobs and kale stems. Yours might have more carrot scraps and alliums at this time of year. Don’t worry about peeling off skins or chopping, as the veggies won’t make it past the strainer, anyways! Here’s how I make vegetable stock on a regular basis:

Local Roots NYC Veggie Stock

Vegetable Stock


  • Enough *vegetable scraps to fill a large pot
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic (no need to peel)
  • 1 large onion, quartered (unless you’re using lots of onion scraps already)

*I take vegetable scraps leftover from cooking my Local Roots CSA share and add them to a large ziplock bag, which I keep in the freezer. When the bag is full, I take it out and make my stock.*

**Try and stay away from  strong-flavored veggies such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and asparagus, as this will take over your stock’s flavor.

1. Fill your pot with your veggies and pour in water until veggies are covered.
2. Bring water to a boil, and then turn down the heat and simmer for about 2 hours.
3. Strain liquid and put in glass or plastic containers.
4. Use right away or keep in the fridge for 1 week, I usually freeze mine and use as needed.
Stay tuned next week for more ways to celebrate a vegetarian Thanksgiving and for my favorite vegetarian gravy recipe!