This Thanksgiving bake. Everything you look for in a Thanksgiving meal is well and accounted for in this casserole. It is layer upon layer of all the deliciousness you wait for all year.
In a single pan you have stuffing, dark meat, white meat, gravy, mashed potatoes, and buns. Served with some roasted, seasoned sweet potato cubes, cranberries, and a side salad, you can check everything off your T-day list. Hoo-rah!
The bottom layer is a savory walnut-sage stuffing. On top of the stuffing is thin-sliced seitan filling the role of the dark meat turkey that has been simmered in broth and turkey seasoning powder (stay tuned for more on that).
Marinated and simmered tofu is the next layer as our white meat layer. Before anything else, the entire center layer of the casserole is drenched in vegan turkey gravy.
Next come the fluffy, buttery, garlic mashed potatoes. And finally to top it off, a puff pastry that is flakey, and rises as it turns golden. Ah, that crust.
The best part about this casserole is the millions of different ways you can make it.
You can use your favorite stuffing recipe, maybe it’s your Nonna’s stuffing recipe that’s been in your family parties for years, maybe it’s something you just found on the internet five minutes ago.
Whatevs. It will be awesome no matter what stuffing / potatoes / puff you use.
This dish can be made in advance and refrigerated until the day of. You can assemble the whole thing, cover it in foil and stick it in the fridge. On Thanksgiving day, make another batch of gravy fresh for pouring in 5 minutes, stick this thing in the oven for an hour, and you’ve got an easy day in the kitchen.
It is also the perfect dish to bring along to family holidays. Meat-eaters and veggies alike enjoy this casserole, and every time I’ve brought it somewhere, I hear, “Hey, this is actually really good!!”
Something else you won’t be missing out on…turkey skin. Mmmhm. You remember when you were a kid, and your favorite part about Thanksgiving was picking the burnt pieces off the turkey skin right after it came out of the oven? No? Just me?
Well, as this Thanksgiving casserole bakes, the flavors, gravy, potatoes, all swirl together and blast out the sides and get all brown all crusty on the pan.
It’s like vegan turkey skin. It’s salty and savory, crispy and melts in your mouth.
You wonder why so many meat-eaters feel sorry for you. Clearly, you are not missing out.
Vegan “Turkey” Gravy
So this gravy. Let me tell you about this gravy. Well, look at it. This is the best vegan turkey gravy ever. Maybe the best gravy ever.
I used to believe that the meat part of a dish was why something tasted the way it did.
Turkey gravy? Obviously it tastes that way because of the turkey.
I never paid attention to what else may have contributed to the complex flavors…not the thyme, sage, marjoram, celery seed, tarragon, or sea salt.
I’m sorry I never appreciated you, all you beautiful, flavorful herbs!
- ¼ cup vegan margarine
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- splash of cooking sherry or white wine
- splash of soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of "Turkey" Seasoning Powder
- Melt vegan margarine in a medium saucepan over low/medium heat.
- Add flour and whisk together until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients.
- Whisk constantly until gravy becomes thick.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately or refrigerate for later use.
“Turkey” Seasoning Powder
Now that I’ve told you about the gravy, you’re probably wondering what this “Turkey” Seasoning Powder is. It’s a mixture of herbs and salt in nutritional yeast powder.
This is the most important part of this whole casserole from my perspective. I’ve had it written down in Sharpie marker on some torn computer paper that’s stuffed in a recipe binder for I don’t know how long. It’s nice to type it out and photograph it properly.
I mix up a batch of this powder and keep it in a mason jar. I use it to make the ‘turkey’ gravy above. I use it in veggie broth to simmer and flavor the tofu and seitan for the Thanksgiving casserole. It’s delicious mixed in vegetable broth to make a super quick ‘poultry’ soup base.
- 1 cup nutritional yeast flakes (I use KAL brand that I get at Whole Foods)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sage
- 2 teaspoons celery seed
- 2 teaspoons thyme
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon marjoram
- 1 teaspoon tarragon
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon rosemary
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- Put everything in a high-speed blender and give it a whiz until it is a smooth, fine powder.
- Store in an air-tight container, like a mason jar, and keep with your other spices.
Vegan Thanksgiving Casserole
The idea came from Robin Roberston’s book, 1,000 Vegan Recipes, where she makes a One-Dish Thanksgiving Dinner.
As for the casserole itself, it is so customizable it requires more of basic assembly guidance rather than a specific recipe. It’s flexible, make it your own!
- 4 cups of your favorite stuffing, uncooked
- 1 package Upton's Chick Seitan, sliced thin
- 1 package organic sprouted tofu, sliced
- 1 cup vegetable broth, divided
- 1 tablespoon "Turkey" Seasoning Powder, divided
- 4 cups of your favorite mashed potatoes
- 1 frozen vegan puff pastry, thawed
- Remember to thaw your frozen puff pastry in the fridge the night before!
- If you're making this to eat now, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Grease a 9x13 baking dish.
- Add the seitan slices to a large pan with ½ cup vegetable broth and ½ tablespoon of the "Turkey" Seasoning Powder.
- Simmer over low heat until broth is mostly absorbed and reduced, stirring and flipping as needed, about 10 minutes.
- Set aside.
- Add the tofu slices to the pan with the remaining ½ cup vegetable broth and ½ tablespoon of "Turkey" Seasoning Powder.
- Simmer over low heat until broth is mostly absorbed and reduced, stirring and flipping as needed, about 10 minutes. You can also use two pans and simmer the tofu and seitan at the same time.
- In the prepared dish, add the stuffing and spread evenly across the bottom for the first layer.
- Layer the seasoned seitan on top of the stuffing.
- Add an even layer of season tofu slices.
- Pour some 'turkey' gravy over the whole dish, you should still be able to see things underneath. It's not supposed to be completely submerged, just a flavorful drizzle.
- Spread the mashed potatoes on top as the next layer.
- Finally and carefully, unfold the puff pastry and cover the mashed potatoes, tucking in the edges like a pie.
- Make a bunch of vent slits in the top to prevent bubbling and Thanksgiving explosions in your oven.
- Bake until the puff pastry has risen and is a beautiful light golden brown.
- Let it cool a bit and serve.
I’d like to mention that I photographed the bake the DAY AFTER Thanksgiving. I sliced the pieces out of the dish after it had come out of the fridge, so it was nice and solid and gave me a clean cut. Then I put them in the oven and baked them at 400 degrees until they were hot, delicious, and the puff pastry was flakey again. Then when they were hot out of the oven, I plated it, added the sides, and photographed it all.
It’s the best way to show you all the layers individually. On Thanksgiving day when you pull this bad boy out of the oven and start cutting…all bets are off. A fresh out of the oven Thanksgiving casserole will not look so perfectly cut as in these pictures.
It’s ewwy and gooey, steamy and flowing. It will be a hot blob of Thanksgiving bliss. You will pour gravy mercilessly, and you will burn your tongue like you always tell yourself you AREN’T going to do this year, but then you end up doing it anyway. There’s always next year.
Happy Thanksgiving!!! Love and gratitude to you all!