Bobby Flay's Favorite Holiday Side Is Vegetarian And Gluten Free

In the United States, holiday dinners tend to feature heavy, meat-centric dishes. For Thanksgiving, imagine creamy mashed potatoes drizzled with rich gravy, savory stuffing, or a succulent turkey roasted to perfection. If you celebrate Christmas, think of a tender, honey-glazed ham or a luxurious prime rib. For Christmas dinner around the world, British families might roast a goose. In Finland, you might have a taste of fresh, Nordic seafood, like powan, lutefisk (dried cod), pickled herring, and fish roe (per Fishing in Finland). Take a trip down to Mexico and you might spend Christmas dinner basking in the warm aromas of a pork or chicken hominy soup called pozole, and a juicy pavo, or turkey. But enough about meat. How can vegetarians enjoy holiday meals?

Unless you're a fan of creamy, indulgent sweet potato or green bean casseroles, the traditional options that typically adorn family dinner tables around the holiday season might not be too appealing. Thanks to chefs and home cooks, there are now plenty of inspiring, easy, and delicious vegan side dishes that are ideal for those of us who prefer animal-free foods for our holiday celebrations. Instead of a lamb-filled shepherd's pie, you might try a meat-free version based on lentils and chickpeas, and loaded with different vegetables. You could delicately slice up squash for a Hasselback Butternut Squash Tray Bake, like this Reddit user. Or you could check out celebrity chef Bobby Flay's favorite holiday side, which could add a creative, refined touch to your holiday table.

Bobby Flay's creamy polenta with Cremini mushrooms and Taleggio

Bobby Flay shared his recipe for creamy polenta with cremini mushrooms and Taleggio in his recently released cookbook, "Sundays with Sophie." The dish "could be served as a hearty appetizer or vegetarian entrée, but I really like it as a side dish, served alongside the centerpiece on your holiday table," Flay told USA TODAY. Flay's recipe requires polenta or stone-ground yellow cornmeal, a dish that originated in northern Italy in the 16th century and became a staple for peasants and working-class families due to its affordability and versatility, according to La Cucina Italiana

In the recipe, the Food Network star adds thinly sliced cremini mushrooms, sautéed in a pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then placed on top of the cooked polenta and garnished with a drizzle of truffle oil. The addition of Taleggio cheese, a creamy, semi-soft Italian cheese wrapped in a coarse rind, imbues the dish with a mild, warm flavor. With this elevated twist on a holiday side dish, you no longer need to worry about what to make for your vegetarian guests.