Frugal Foodie: Turkey-free substitute for Turkey Day

Thanksgiving is a holiday that essentially revolves around food. We join family and friends in giving thanks while eating an abundance of delicious, prepared-all-day food. From the main attraction of the turkey to the mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries and all the other goodies, it’s easy to overeat.

But what if you’re vegetarian or vegan during this poultry-centered feast? Or maybe you’re hosting the celebration and have vegetarian or vegan guests coming over? You might be at a loss as to what they’ll be able to eat other than side dishes. Or maybe you’re on a health-kick and you’re cutting down on your meat and poultry intake.

Whatever the cause of your concern, sometimes you just need a hearty vegetarian or vegan option on the table during Thanksgiving. Chili is a favorite fall comfort food that can be tasty with or without animal protein. Below is a delicious recipe for vegetarian chili, which is easily adapted to be vegan as well.


4 tbsp. olive oil

4 tbsp. dry red wine

2 1/2 cups raw kidney beans

3/4 cup raw bulgur (or more, to taste)

1 cup tomato juice

Four garlic cloves, crushed

2 cups onion, diced

1 cup celery

1 cup carrots

1 cup green peppers

Four fresh tomatoes

3 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tsp. ground cumin

4 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. cayenne

1 tsp. basil

3 tbsp. tomato paste

One block extra sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup parsley

Salt and pepper


1. Start beans a few hours early to allow time to cook. Put kidney beans in a pan and cover them with 6 cups of water. Soak for about three hours. Add extra water and 2 tsp. salt. Cook until tender, about one hour. Watch the water level—add more if necessary.

2. Heat tomato juice to a boil. Add a pinch of salt. Pour over raw bulgur. Cover and let stand at least 15 minutes.

3. Chop vegetables to desired size.

4. Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil. Add celery, carrots, tomato and spices. When vegetables are almost done, add peppers. Cook until relatively soft.

5. Combine all ingredients—including those not used—except cheese and parsley and slowly heat together in a covered pan on stove, to taste.

6. Serve with grated cheddar cheese and parsley on top or leave cheese out for a vegan meal.

Makes approximately eight servings.