For Thanksgiving, a vegetarian dish that all can savor

This deliciously creamy vegetarian strata marries layers of roasted eggplant, delicata squash and red cabbage with a rich bechamel sauce.
This deliciously creamy vegetarian strata marries layers of roasted eggplant, delicata squash and red cabbage with a rich bechamel sauce. The Associated Press

If you really want the vegetarians at your Thanksgiving table to give thanks, start by not serving them a roasted faux meat. We admit, there can be a time and place for not-meats, but Thanksgiving isn’t one of them.

Instead, consider making a hearty vegetable dish that can serve as the main course for non-meat eaters, while doubling as a delicious side for the carnivores. And for that role, we offer this deliciously creamy strata that marries layers of roasted eggplant, delicata squash and red cabbage with a rich bechamel sauce. Think of it as a white sauce lasagna crossed with ratatouille.

And to help you out as you struggle to get all the various dishes on the table, this strata is easily prepped the day before. On Thanksgiving, just pop it in the oven for about 35 minutes and it’s ready.

Thanksgiving eggplant strata

Prep time: 30 minutes, plus rest time for baked casserole

Cook time: 1 hour

Serves 10


Olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large red onion, sliced

4 cups sliced red cabbage

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

1 tablespoon ground coriander

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

3 delicata squash (about 3 pounds total)

3 thin Japanese eggplants (or other small eggplants)

5 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups whole milk

11/3 cups plain Greek yogurt

1/3 cup chopped fresh mint


Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Mist a large (3- to 4-quart) casserole dish with cooking spray.

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat a splash of olive oil. Add the garlic, onion and cabbage and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender. Stir in the apricots and coriander and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper, then set aside.

While the cabbage cooks, roast the squash and eggplant. Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut each half into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Toss with a splash of olive oil, season lightly with salt and pepper, then spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Slice the eggplant into 1/4-inch-thick slices, toss with oil, salt and pepper, then spread evenly on a second rimmed baking sheet.

Roast both vegetables for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through, until very tender and starting to brown. Set aside. Lower the oven to 375 degrees.

To make the bechamel sauce, in a medium saucepan over medium heat melt the butter. Add the flour and stir until the mixture looks like wet sand. Whisk in the milk, pouring in 1 cup at a time to ensure it remains smooth. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the yogurt and mint. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

To assemble the layers, spread half of the cabbage mixture in an even layer in the prepared pan. Top with half of the squash. Spread a thin layer of the bechamel sauce over the squash. Top with half of the eggplant slices, then another thin layer of sauce. Repeat with the layering with the remaining ingredients, ending with a good layer of sauce.

The strata can be assembled to this point, wrapped and refrigerated overnight, or baked immediately. When ready to serve, uncover and bake for 30 minutes (a bit longer if the strata has been refrigerated), or until bubbling and browned. Allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving.

Per serving: 250 calories; 80 calories from fat (32 % of total calories); 10 g fat (6 g sat.; 0 g trans fats); 25 mg chol.; 31 g carb.; 7 g fiber; 18 g sugar; 11 g protein; 260 mg sodium.

Vegetarian gravy

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Serves 12

In the interest of giving vegetarians something to ladle over their mashed potatoes and stuffing, we decided to come up with a gravy good enough to serve to everyone, no matter one’s preference on turkey. Recipe from The Associated Press.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 large leek, white part only, chopped

1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white wine

2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

2 tablespoons butter (optional)

Kosher salt and ground black pepper


In a large skillet over medium, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, leek, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes, or until very soft and starting to brown. Add the thyme, rosemary, sage and flour, then stir until well mixed. Add the wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the pan.

Stir in the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the liquid thickens slightly. Working in batches, transfer the mixture to a blender and purée until very smooth, adding the butter during blending, if desired. Pour the blended gravy through a mesh strainer back into the saucepan. Reheat over low heat, then season with salt and pepper.