Don’t want a turkey this Thanksgiving? Maybe you’re vegetarian, or you’re entertaining guests who are; or maybe you just don’t like the traditional bird. Or maybe you like turkey, you just don’t want to do a traditional presentation. Whatever the reason, there are some other tasty options that’ll have your mouth watering.

Meatless options

“I’ve been vegetarian for 35 years, and my whole family are vegans,” says Portland-based cooking teacher David Gabbe, fresh from a round of vegetarian cooking classes in the South Sound. “For Thanksgiving, we would cook all plant-based dishes, but it would look traditional — the emphasis being on nuts, apples, beans and grains.”

One of Gabbe’s staple Thanksgiving entrees is a baked squash. It’s got all of the healthful properties of a meatless meal with all the drama of a big centerpiece.

“Squashes are great, my kids loved them,” says Gabbe. “Especially if you want the illusion of a fake bird.”

Worried about protein? Check out the recipe: black beans, walnuts and miso (a soy derivative) pack just as much protein as a meat dish.

Try another kind of bird

If you still want a bird but are looking for something a little sexier (and smaller) than a turkey, try a duck.

“Duck is a posh, sophisticated option for a couple without kids,” says Lisa Owen, chef at Olympia’s The Mark restaurant. There’s not as much meat on a duck, she reminds us, but with enough side dishes it could be stretched to feed four.

While it’s true that most people Owen sees through her restaurant are “looking for the traditional turkey dinner,” it’s worth thinking outside the culinary box to tantalize your taste buds — and make you realize that what you’re really thankful for this holiday is good food, whatever form it comes in.

Another alternative to try: smaller birds. Cornish hens are a good alternative. They’re inexpensive, petite and can make for an elegant presentation. One hen weighs just more than a pound with its bone, though some can weigh up to 2 pounds each. A whole Cornish hen is enough for one generous serving. Or you can split the hen for two servings. Another bonus: Cornish hens thaw quickly — overnight in the refrigerator should do. You can also thaw them in the microwave, but they need to be cooked immediately afterward. Cornish hens are best oven-roasted or grilled.

Because they are small, whole ones cook in less than an hour.

Roast Duck with Sour Cherry Compote and Italian Dressing

Serves 2-4

5-pound duck

Salt, for seasoning

For the compote:

1 cup cherry compote (available at grocery stores)

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon duck fat

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Salt to taste

For the dressing:

1/2 small orange

2 ounces roasted potatoes

10 sprigs thyme

5 cloves garlic

1 ounce pine nut

For the stuffing: Before cooking, stuff the duck with orange, potatoes, thyme, garlic and pine nuts. Serve with cherry compote.

Prepare the duck: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove duck parts from cavity of duck. Wash duck and remove excess fat and quills. Pat the duck dry, then season with salt inside and out. Place duck on roasting pan. Cut lines into the fatty layer of duck breast, making sure not to pierce the breast meat. Cut wings tips off so they do not burn. Place in oven breast-side up and roast for 45 minutes. Remove, flip duck over and roast for another 45 minutes. Remove, flip duck again so breast-side is facing up and roast 45 more minutes. Remove and let duck rest for 5-10 minutes, so juices redistribute into duck.

For the compote: Add duck fat, sugar and cherry compote to pan. Saute on high heat for 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and stir. Add salt to taste. Serve with duck and stuffing.

Source: Recipe courtesy of Lisa Owen, The Mark

Roasted Turkey Roulade

Makes 6 to 7 servings

3/4 cup large-diced dried figs, stems removed

3/4 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup Calvados or brandy

1/2 cup water

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)

1 -1/2 cups diced onions (about 2 onions)

1 cup chopped celery (about 3 ribs)

3/4 pound pork or Italian sausage, casings removed (sweet and hot mixed)

1-1/2 tablespoons chopped, fresh rosemary leaves

3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

3 cups herb-seasoned stuffing mix

1-1/2 cups chicken stock

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 whole turkey breast, de-boned and butterflied (5 pounds)

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Place dried figs and cranberries in a small saucepan. Add Calvados and the 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add onions and celery, and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Crumble sausage and add; stirring frequently, cook 10 minutes, until cooked through and browned. Add figs and cranberries with the liquid, rosemary and pine nuts, and cook 2 more minutes. Scrape up brown bits with a wooden spoon.

Place stuffing mix in a large bowl. Add sausage mixture, chicken stock, egg, 1 teaspoon salt and the 1/2 teaspoon pepper and stir well. (Stuffing can be prepared ahead and stored in refrigerator overnight.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Lay butterflied turkey breast skin-side down on a cutting board. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Spread stuffing in 1/2-inch-thick layer over meat, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides. Don’t mound the stuffing or the turkey will be difficult to roll. (Place leftover stuffing in a small buttered casserole dish and bake for the last 30 minutes of roasting alongside the turkey.)

Starting at one side, roll up turkey like a jellyroll, tucking in any stuffing that tries to escape on the sides. Tie firmly with kitchen twine every 2 inches to make a cylinder.

Place stuffed turkey breast seam-side down on rack in roasting pan. Brush with the melted butter, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and roast 1-3/4 to 2 hours, until an instant-read thermometer registers 150 degrees in the center. (Test in a few places.)

Cover turkey with aluminum foil and let rest at room temperature 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make gravy from pan drippings if desired. Carve into 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve warm with the extra stuffing and gravy.

Source: “Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics” by Ina Garten (Clarkson Potter, 2008).

Orange-Glazed Cornish Hens

Serves: 2-4 / Preparation time: 10 minutes

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

2 Cornish hens, thawed, if frozen, and giblets, if any, removed

Salt and pepper to taste

Nonstick cooking spray

1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder

3/4 cup orange marmalade or apricot preserves

1 generous tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup less-sodium, fat-free chicken broth

Note: In advance, be sure to season the hens and place in the refrigerator overnight — or at least 1 hour before roasting — to dry the skin. Pat the hens dry. Season the cavity and the entire hens with salt and pepper to taste.

If you plan on cooking them flat, cut the hens along each side of the backbone to flatten or cut in half entirely. If roasting them whole, tie the legs together with kitchen string. Place the seasoned hens in a baking dish and refrigerate at least 1 hour .

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small saucepan, whisk together the five spice powder, marmalade or preserves, mustard, orange juice and chicken broth. Heat over medium until the marmalade is melted and the mixture is almost smooth (there will be bits of orange peel from the marmalade).

Divide the sauce mixture in half; set aside one half to serve with the cooked hens.

Place the hens on a broiler pan rack. Drizzle with some of the reserved sauce.

Place in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and drizzle the hens again with the apricot sauce. Continue roasting, basting occasionally, until the hens are done, about 30 minutes more or until cooked through. Remove from the oven, and let stand 10 minutes before serving. If serving 4, cut each hen in half and serve with the sauce.

Source: From and tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

Nutritional information based on 1/2 Cornish hen without the skin: 399 calories (16 percent from fat ), 7 grams fat (2 grams sat. fat ), 44 grams carbohydrates, 41 grams protein, 254 mg sodium, 180 mg cholesterol, 0 grams fiber.

Stuffed Squash

Yield: Serves 4-8

4 small delicata (or other) squashes

1/2 cups onions, chopped)

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup each, chopped: celery, mushrooms, and carrots

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil or olive oil

2 teaspoons each (dried) basil, chives, and parsley

1 teaspoon each: liquid smoke, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried thyme

2 cups cooked chewy buckwheat (recipe below)

1 cup cooked black beans

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans (chopped)

3 tablespoons red miso dissolved in 3 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pierce squashes and bake 60 minutes, or until tender.

Place onions and next 13 ingredients in large skillet and simmer, covered, 10 minutes.

Add next 4 ingredients to skillet mixture and combine thoroughly. Set aside.

As soon as squashes are cool to handle, cut each in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and stringy material. Fill squash halves with stuffing and place squashes in oiled baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes or until stuffing is thoroughly heated.

Remove from heat and leave covered 5-10 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve.

Source: Recipe courtesy David Gabbe

Chewy Buckwheat

1 cup uncooked raw buckwheat

2 cups water

Pick through buckwheat and remove any stones or other foreign matter. Rinse. In a pot, combine buckwheat and water. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and leave covered 5-10 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve.

Source: Recipe courtesy David Gabbe

Torta Verdura d’Inverno (Vegetarian Autumn Torte)

For the pie crust:

2-1/2 cups flour

1 cup cold butter

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

For the torte:

2 cups onion

2 cups rutabaga

2 cups carrot

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 ounces thinly chopped dried/soft figs

6 finely chopped fresh sage leaves

Freshly cracked black pepper

Sea salt

2 eggs

Grated pecorino romano cheese

For the crust: Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and stir briefly. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut cold butter into dry ingredients until it is in pea-size pieces that are slightly yellow in color.

Mix in 6 to 8 tablespoons ice water and mix just until dough comes together.

Shape dough into a flat disk, cover and refrigerate for 45 minutes or overnight for more convenience.

For the filling: Thinly slice the onion and cut the rutabaga and carrot into small pieces. In a saute pan, saute onion until clear in the olive oil, then add the chopped figs. In another pan or in a steamer, steam the carrot and rutabaga for approximately 20 minutes until they begin to soften and sweeten a little. Turn the heat of the saute pan to high and add the carrot and rutabaga, sauteing quickly on high heat, adding the onion, fig and a pinch of sea salt.

Turn off heat, and add sage and pepper, season to taste. Roll out the pie crust and line a tart pan with it. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the cooked vegetable mixture with the gently whisked eggs and put mixture in tart pan over the pie crust. Brush a little butter on the edge of the crust to help it brown.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, then remove from oven, top with a thin layer of pecorino romano and cook 10 minutes more. Let it cool a little and serve still hot or later at room temperature.

Source: Recipe courtesy Lisa Owen, The Mark