There may have been a time when vegetarians didn't feel very welcome at the Thanksgiving table, staring down a vast platter of turkey, and doing all they could to keep their mashed potatoes clear of gravy. But these incredible vegetarian dishes make those distant moments ancient history.

By Emily Kaiser Thelin
Updated June 30, 2017

Turkey comes in an easy second-best to Food Network star Michael Symon's roast delicata squash, sweetly caramelized and stuffed with herb-flecked, protein-rich quinoa. No one will need gravy for rocker Dave Matthews's cheese-laden zucchini-and-mushroom moussaka. And F&W's Melissa Jacobson Rubel's creamy mushroom pasta is not only meaty with flavor, but the mix of pasta shapes makes the dish a great one for kids, regardless of whether they eat meat or not. Click through to find new vegetarian Thanksgiving classics that even carnivores will love.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving: Favorite Mains and Side Dishes

Baked Butternut Squash-and-Cheese Polenta

Anna Thomas's 1970s book, The Vegetarian Epicure, is iconic; updated in the '90s and rechristened The New Vegetarian Epicure, it focuses on recipes for entertaining. One of her latest dishes is this crusty baked polenta, swirled with mashed butternut squash and smoked Gouda cheese.

Lattice-Crusted Minestrone Pot Pies

This hearty dish is based on ribollita, the thick Tuscan soup made with leftover minestrone and chunks of bread. Here, a buttery, cheesy pastry lattice is baked on top of the soup. Instead of weaving the strips of dough to make the lattice, you can arrange them in a crisscross pattern; easier still, roll the dough into rounds, cut a few steam vents in the pastry and drape it over the bowls before baking.

Roasted Delicata Squash with Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is definitely a superfood: A grain-like seed, it's a "complete" protein containing all eight essential amino acids (another plus: it cooks much more quickly than most grains). To create a terrific vegetarian main course, Michael Symon tosses quinoa with arugula, apple, raisins and fresh herbs, then spoons the salad into a halved baked squash (a great source of iron and vitamins A and C).

Vegetarian Thanksgiving: Casseroles

Cheesy Mixed Pasta Casserole with Mushrooms

F&W's Melissa Rubel Jacobson created this recipe to use up extra dried mushrooms and odds and ends of pasta. While the different pasta shapes cook at different rates in the water, they all become tender once baked.RELATED: Best Mushroom Soup Recipes

Two-Cheese Moussaka with Sautéed Mushrooms and Zucchini

Dave Matthews loves making this casserole, layered with roasted zucchini, mushrooms, tomato sauce, feta and provolone. It's his version of the Croatian moussaka in Moosewood Cookbook.

Butternut Squash Bread Pudding

This savory bread pudding, loaded with sweet squash, is based on a recipe meat master Bruce Aidells's wife, Nancy Oakes, created at her restaurant, Boulevard. For a more elegant presentation, Aidells bakes the bread pudding in individual ramekins.

RELATED: Roasted Butternut Squash with Sage

Vegetarian Thanksgiving: Soup Recipes

Thai Red-Curry Squash Soup

Joanne Chang switches up the flavors of Thanksgiving's classic squash soup with a host of Asian ingredients, including curry paste, ginger and coconut milk.

Mushroom Soup with Toasted Bread

Michel Bras purees this lush mushroom soup with bread toasted to a dark brown to thicken the texture and deepen its flavor. He learned the trick from his mother growing up in the Aubrac mountains, one of France's poorest regions. "I used to mix bread crumbs with sugar for a little treat," Bras says. "We were happy with very little."

Creamy Broccoli Soup with Cheddar Crisps

For an ingenious twist on the classic combination of broccoli and melted cheddar, Barbara Lynch serves a warming broccoli soup with cheddar crisps. Try making the crisps with Mimolette, an orange-hued semihard cheese from France, which has a milder, nuttier flavor than cheddar. The soup is equally good with cauliflower or celery root in place of the broccoli.