Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Coming from a divorced family, my Thanksgivings were always split between a tofu-turkey-eating vegan dinner with my mom and stepdad, and a traditional dinner with my dad and stepmom. This year was the first that I didn't go home for Thanksgiving, so I wanted to recreate recipes that both sides of my family regularly made. I went to a T-day potluck at my friend Leigh's, and most of the more traditional foods were claimed by other people: mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, pecan pie, cranberry sauce. The three other dishes that I have to have to may my Thanksgiving complete are my mom's tofurkey, Dad's cranberry salad, and Barb's dinner rolls. Unfortunately the dinner rolls did not turn out awesome enough to make it on my blog (but that's what I get for trying to veganize a classic Betty Crocker recipe). The tofurkey and cranberry salad turned out just as well as I hoped. I also made a kabocha squash pound cake for dessert to contribute a unique seasonal dessert. Even though most people at the potluck were meat-eaters, everyone enjoyed the food I brought.


I am not sure where this recipe originates. Year after year, my mom pulls out an old Xeroxed copy. At the top it says "Holiday Cooking Class Series: Macrobiotic Thanksgiving Dinner," so my guess is she picked it up at a Macro cooking class. The only macrobiotic aspect to this recipe is its simplicity in ingredients; it is incredibly rich in flavor. I recommend using very extra firm tofu for this recipe since you need it to hold its shape. I used Whole Foods brand and found that it was too mushy. Westbrae and Nasoya are better I think. If your tofu is very wet and mushy, try pressing it longer than the hour that is recommended. I bet mine would have turned out better if I pressed it overnight. Also, allow yourself 3 1/2 hours, including pressing and cooking time.

5 lbs extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4-1/2 cup sesame oil
cheese cloth
colander (about 11 3/4" wide)
baking sheet that is wider than colander
basting brush

1. Drain and mash tofu well. Line colander with a single layer of cheese cloth.
2. Press tofu into cheese cloth-lined colander, and place a heavy object on top to press liquid out of tofu for 1 hour. (I set a plate on top of the tofu and used a gallon of water to press it)
3. Prepare stuffing (recipe follows)
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
5. Hollow out tofu in the colander so that the tofu lining is 1-inch thick. Save remaining tofu.
6. Fill colander with prepared stuffing, stopping 1 inch from the top, and cover with remaining tofu.
7. Oil a baking sheet, place it on top of the colander, and carefully flip the filled tofu onto the baking sheet. Remove cheesecloth.
8. Make basting liquid with soy sauce and sesame oil; brush tofu with it.
9. Cover tofu with parchment paper, and bake tofu for 1 hour.
10. Uncover, baste, and return to oven uncovered until "skin" becomes golden brown, about one more hour. Baste again halfway through.
11. Using two spatulas, transfer tofurkey to serving platter.

Note: In the past, my mom has cut drumstick shapes out of tempeh, then steamed, basted, and baked them so that the tofu mound looks more like a turkey.


2 Tbs olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbs fresh sage or 1 tsp dried, minced
1 Tbs fresh thyme, minced
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 cup raisins
1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1-2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 cups bread, in 1/2 inch cubes

Heat oil and sautee onions, garlic, and celery until transparent, about 1 minute. Mix herb seasoning together and combine with remaining ingredients. Season to taste.

Use any kind of vegan gravy. I used the mushroom gravy from this deconstructed green bean casserole recipe from Vegan Yum Yum. The whole dish is an awesome vegan side dish that also has a lot more class than the traditional version.

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