How to Pardon A Turkey on Thanksgiving
It's been a yearly tradition since President George H.W. Bush was in office--pardoning two turkeys (no, real turkeys, not government officials) on Thanksgiving. While PETA president Ingrid Newkirk has asked President Obama to bypass the pardon this year since "Turkeys do not need to be pardoned--they are not guilty of anything other than being born into a world of prejudice," you have an opportunity to forego turkey this year and choose a more humane, delicious, and healthful option. So, here's how you can pardon a turkey.
What's the best part of Thanksgiving dinner?
How would you answer this question? When I searched for surveys on this topic, I found that while turkey may be a tradition, many people are much more interested in other foods that are typically served along with the bird. So why not pardon a turkey this year and focus on the foods you really like?
At the top of the favorite Thanksgiving day food list, or near the top, is stuffing. Whether it's made with walnuts, sausage, cranberries, cornbread, garlic, chestnuts, or more, it seems that just about everyone who loves stuffing has a favorite stuffing recipe. This year, why not use your favorite stuffing recipe to stuff something other than a turkey, and something that takes little time to prepare so you'll have plenty of time to watch football, spend time with your family, or bake a pumpkin pie?
Baked, stuffed portobello mushrooms
How about baked, stuffed portobello mushrooms. You may have your own special stuffing recipe, but if you don't, you might try this one. In less than one hour, you can have a big platter of delicious stuffed portobello mushrooms to serve up with your candied yams, green bean casserole, roasted vegetables, and pecan pie--other items that many people named as favorites.
6 large portobello mushrooms
Stems from the mushrooms, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup shredded carrot
2 cups chopped spinach
1 cup whole grain bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon each poultry seasoning, dried oregano, dried basil
1 Tbs olive oil
Parmesan cheese (vegan varieties available)
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 F degrees. Gently clean the mushrooms, remove their stems (for the stuffing), and place the mushroom caps stem side down on a baking pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, remove from the oven and use towels to soak up any excess water. Set the caps aside. If you have your own favorite stuffing recipe, use that. If not, in a skillet, heat the olive oil and add the chopped onion, garlic, and celery and cook until translucent. Add the red pepper, carrot, and spinach and stir for several minutes, then add the salt, pepper, mushroom stems, seasonings, and bread crumbs. Mix well and heat for several minutes. Stuff each of the mushroom caps, sprinkle generously with parmesan cheese, and bake for 10 minutes.
Baked, stuffed squash
You can also choose to stuff squash. Acorn squash work well, but you can also use butternut. For acorn squash, preheat the oven to 375 F degrees, slice off the tops of three squash and scoop out the seeds. Discard the seeds (or save them for planting or roasting) and place the squashes, cut side down, on a baking sheet that you have sprayed with oil. Roast them for 30 to 40 minutes or until tender (prick with a fork). Then fill each squash with your favorite filling and broil for 3 to 4 minutes.
If you choose butternut squash, preheat the oven to 400 F degrees, cut each squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Discard the seeds or save for planting or roasting. Place the squash in a baking dish in one inch of water and cover the dish with foil. Bake for 1 hour or until tender. Stuff with your favorite stuffing, broil for 3 to 4 minutes, and enjoy.
Once you enjoy these stuffed veggies, you'll have plenty of room for your other favorites, including the pumpkin and pecan pies. Consider pardoning a turkey this year on Thanksgiving.