Vegetarian Thanksgiving: Caramelized Onion and Fennel Risotto

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Caramelized onion and fennel risottoCredit Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

How do you feed a vegetarian or vegan Thanksgiving guest who doesn’t like sweet potatoes?

That was the dilemma for a reader, Joe DiMaria of Somerville, Mass., whose best friend, a vegan, joins his family table every Thanksgiving. His friend loves many vegetables, but unfortunately she does not enjoy many traditional fall vegetables that are the typical side dishes on a Thanksgiving table.

“Being vegetarian or vegan around the holidays is incredibly difficult,” says Mr. DiMaria. “It’s even more difficult when you don’t like squash, root vegetables or sweet potatoes.”

Mr. DiMaria set out to create a dish that would be delicious for all of his guests, but would also offer a satisfying vegan option for his friend. “It was a little bit of a challenge to come up with something that didn’t have those fall vegetables in it, but still felt like it was fall inspired,” said Mr. DiMaria.

He came up with a hearty risotto flavored with a taste of fall by caramelized onions and fennel. While the dish was created for a vegan diner, using Earth Balance in place of butter and eliminating the Parmesan cheese, it was a hit with everyone at the table. His friend liked it so much, she is the one who suggested he submit it to Well’s Vegetarian Thanksgiving this year. The dish is now a family tradition.

“We’re Italian so we eat a lot of risotto and pasta,” said Mr. DiMaria. “This risotto felt very comfortable on my family Thanksgiving table.”


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