click to enlarge The Epicurious.com photo of the Butternut Vegducken, which looked nothing like the sloppy mess that came out of the oven at home.
The Epicurious.com photo of the Butternut Vegducken, which looked nothing like the sloppy mess that came out of the oven at home.

by Jennifer K. Bauer

When the pilgrims sat down to the first Thanksgiving dinner they were grateful just to have food. They’d arrived too late the previous year to plant a crop. Half the settlers died that winter.

Nearly 400 years later, Thanksgiving is still about food but people are more picky and jaded and are combing the culinary landscape in search of new thrills.

Vegetarians created the Tofurky, a meat-esque round of tofu to replace the traditional stuffed bird. In the meantime, meat lovers embraced the Turducken, a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey. Not to be outdone, vegetable lovers have volleyed back with the Butternut Vegducken - a green onion inside a zucchini inside an eggplant inside a butternut squash with layers of stuffing. Several food sites and blogs were quick to hail 2015 as “the year of the Vegducken” after Epicurious.com introduced the recipe last month.

For Thanksgiving, the 360 staff put the Vegducken to the test. Could it really replace a turkey as a main course? If you are passionate about vegetables and looking for an epic centerpiece dish this is for you. If you think the holidays require a meal that takes hours to shop for, prepare and cook and leaves you with an apocalyptic mess in the kitchen, the Vegducken’s got what it takes.

click to enlarge The inside of half of our Vegducken before being assembled and roasted.
The inside of half of our Vegducken before being assembled and roasted.

Our finished Vegducken was not pretty. Due to its appearance, three out of nine people refused to eat it. However, those who did cleaned their plates. It also inspired an argument about who generally does the bulk of Thanksgiving cooking - men or women - and the conclusion that a male could reclaim his manhood in the kitchen by making a Cherpumple, the “turducken of desserts,” a pumpkin pie, a cherry pie and an apple pie baked inside a spice cake.  Yes, it’s a real thing, according to the Internet.

Would the Vegducken be acceptable to your holiday guests? Here’s what people said at our holiday feast:

What’s in the Butternut Vegducken?

A green onion inside a zucchini inside an eggplant inside a butternut squash. Between each is a layer of stuffing made with the vegetables’ innards, bread crumbs, egg, parmesan, garlic, shallot, shiitake mushrooms, herb butter sauce and pecans. After assembling, the halved squash is tied together and roasted in the oven for two hours. It’s carved in slices which are served with a butter sauce of mint, thyme, parsley, red pepper, maple syrup and fresh lemon juice; and topped with toasted pecans.

COMMENTS:

“Why not just make a turkey?”

“I’m not eating it. … There’s not even any bacon.”

“If I put this on my Thanksgiving table my kids would cry.”

“I don’t understand the cruelty and hate against vegetables”

“B minus for taste, presentation an F.” 

“I do like how it’s the Russian nesting doll of vegetables.”

“Gordon Ramsey would yell at you.” (because of its appearance)

“I would never make this but I would definitely eat it.”

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