Holiday mains need not be meat-centric. But we have a few rules we keep in mind when creating a vegetarian showstopper. It should be substantial—it is a main, after all. Ideally, it’s seasonally minded since peak-season vegetables are the tastiest. And flavorwise, it can still play within a classic holiday palate with lots of herbs, alliums, and warm spices (we want to complement the rest of your holiday spread, not compete with it). We used those guidelines to create three impressive yet simple holiday mains: a baked pasta with butternut squash and poblano peppers that is an ode to squash season, a satisfying curried sweet potato potpie, and a warmly spiced rice and lentil dish.
Holidays mean pie. Holidays mean sweet potatoes. And this holiday sweet potato pie is not the one you’re thinking of. We were initially inspired by samosas—the delightful triangle-shaped fried pastries stuffed with potatoes, peas, and spices in South Asian cuisine. We opted for a large potpie that can serve a crowd instead of individual pastries, swapped the regular potatoes for sweet potatoes for maximum holiday vibes, and, for extra veg, added in some cauliflower à la aloo gobi (another favorite dish from Indian cuisine). It was a fun food puzzle to put together, but it’s even more fun to eat.
Lebanese mujadara was our inspiration for this dish—it combines earthy lentils, fluffy rice, and deeply caramelized onions, and it’s as good if not better served at room temperature. It might be the perfect food, and it seems like a natural fit for a vegetarian holiday main. Our version has some greens and added spices for that holiday warmth. Serving it alongside yogurt is traditional and adds a much-needed tang to refresh your palate.