BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Countdown to T-Day

53 Comments

Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday, not by a long shot. Rarely do I even observe it in any significant way, dutifully attending the obligatory family meals, but only to slap together a minimal veggie burger or bowl of soup for myself. Best to keep away from the kitchen with that gruesome turkey carcass on display, all manner of innards and nasty bits strewn about on plates as people mill around the buffet, you see. With the inescapable smell of meat and butter permeating the air, it’s the most I can do to just keep a straight face and get through this day without being too grouchy- A tactic that I often inadvertently fail at, unfortunately.

On the other hand… There was one Thanksgiving that I fondly recall. The only dinner party I ever threw, all of my closest friends at the time was there, and it was as close to perfect as one could hope. There were mashed potatoes, wild rice salad, butternut squash soup, asparagus casserole, glazed carrots, fresh bread, and of course a plethora of dessert options. Everyone contributed something or other to the meal, be it a dish or just themselves (which counts for a lot more than you might imagine.)

But when I think back on that night, there is one aspect that stands out in my mind, inspiring me to try the whole ordeal just one more time.

Tofu turkey. No, not a Tofurkey, but a modest homemade substitution. Made from an ordinary block of tofu and cut into shape, they have a lot going for them, being so much easier and cuter than many other Thanksgiving mains out there.

Now, since the countdown has officially begun and Thanksgiving looms a mere 10 (!!!) days away, it seemed as good a time as ever to go through a trial run, and to perhaps share a few ideas in case everyone hasn’t yet nailed down their menus. Taking a more sophisticated approach to the marinade this time around than on the original tofu turkeys, a mixture of apple cider and savory herbs makes for a sweet, salty, and slightly tangy taste sensation. Nothing goes to waste here either, because the flavorful leftover marinade is then made into a simple, silky smooth gravy.

Even if you, like me, tend to gloss over this holiday as a waste of a day off, just consider making it a special occasion by making these adorable, cruelty-free fowl.

Cider-Marinated Tofu Turkeys

3 Cups Apple Cider
2 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Molasses
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
1 Teaspoon Dried Parsley
1/2 Teaspoon Dried, Crushed Sage
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Tarragon
2 Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
1 Teaspoon Salt
Pinch Black Pepper
2 14-16-Ounce Blocks Extra Firm Tofu

2 – 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

To make the marinade, simply whisk together everything except for the tofu and oil in a large, microwave save bowl or pitcher, and heat for about 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Set aside.

Open and drain away as much liquid as possible from each of the block of tofu. Taking one at a time, stand it on its side, and slice it horizontally into four slabs. Use a turkey-shaped cookie cutter to cut each one individually (You can save the excess tofu for another recipe, like “egg” salad or stuffed mushrooms.) (If you can’t find an appropriate cookie cutter, or don’t want to fuss with it, leaving the rectangles as is will work just fine, too.) Place each tofu turkey into a large baking dish (about 11 x 7, but exact size isn’t important) so that none are overlapping.

Pour the hot marinade over the turkeys, and let rest a room temperature until the liquid has cooled. Cover with plastic wrap, and then refrigerate overnight, or for at least 8 hours and no more than 24.

When you’re ready to prepare dinner, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Drain away but reserve the excess marinade, leaving the tofu turkeys in the baking dish in one layer. Brush the turkeys with oil, and bake for 20 – 30 minutes, until nicely browned.

Serves 4 (2 turkeys each)

Cider Gravy

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Small Yellow Onion
1 Cup Sliced Button Mushrooms
1 Clove Garlic, Finely Minced
1 Teaspoon Powdered Vegetable Stock
1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
Pinch Cayenne Pepper
1/3 Cup Chickpea Flour
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
2 1/4 Cups Reserved Marinade, Divided

Set a saute pan with high sides over moderate heat, and pour in the oil. Once hot, add in the onion, mushrooms, and garlic, and gently saute for 5 – 8 minutes, until softened and the onions are translucent. Sprinkle in the spices, and cook for 1 minute.

Stir the chickpea flour and nutritional yeast into 1/2 cup of the reserved marinade so that there are no lumps, and pour it into the pan. It will thicken up very quickly, and once it does, add in the rest of the marinade. Turn down the heat slightly and let the mixture come to a slow bubble, and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes.

Transfer the mixture into a blender or food processor, and thoroughly puree, until completely smooth. Serve immediately, or place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the gravy so that it doesn’t form a skin.

Makes about 2 1/2 Cups

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah Kaminsky

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

53 thoughts on “Countdown to T-Day

  1. Good idea, I’ll tell my parents to do this for Thanksgiving!

    VEGirl
    http://www.vegirlblog.blogspot.com

  2. How can the day be a waste of a day off with such a yummy looking recipe? You have just solved my main dish dilemma. Thank you!

  3. Turkey shaped tofu, how funny. I like the idea of using the marinade for the cider gravy, that sounds very interesting. I may have to make this soon, no reason to wait until Thanksgiving. :-)

  4. I remember that night too, I definitely keep it as a fond memory too. You did forget to mention that there was also cauliflower :)
    Anyhow, those turkeys are very cute and look delicious. Recently I’ve been going for seitan a lot more often to substitute that part of the dish. There have been a lot of bloggers playing around with it, and a lot of interesting things have come up. Not to digress though, I must say that the marinade and gravy sound great.

  5. I absolutely love your salt and pepper mills!! Care to share whereabouts you acquired them…? :)

  6. What a brilliant idea!!! Those tofu turkeys look absolutely adorable. The marinade and gravy sound so wonderful, I’d love to give them a try. Thanks for the inspiration, Hannah!

  7. Awww, lil tofy turkeys are cute!

  8. We’ve already had Thanksgiving here, but this looks yummy for Christmas. :-)

    Just to confirm, though: by “cider” you mean non-alcoholic, natural apple juice, yes?

  9. Your turkey would be the only turkey I’d ever touch! I am glad we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here, but if, we should celebrate the awesome turkey by serving tofu turkey!

  10. Great idea, love the turkey shapes :)

  11. I’m sorry you feel that way about Thanksgiving. Even though I’m a carnivore, I’m still not a huge turkey fan. I wouldn’t care what was served (well, I lie, I’m a pretty picky eater) as long as I got time with friends and family. To me, the day isn’t so much about the food, but about the family. I’m sorry the food gets in the way.
    That does sound like a very interesting marinade, and I’m sure if someone made it for me, I’d enjoy it. Tofu is one of those things that I’ll eat if someone else makes it, and I don’t think about it too much. Weird, I know.

  12. Hey Hannah, I’m with you! As much as I would love to celebrate a special day with my carnivorous family members, I cannot abide being in the same room with a poor dead turkey!
    I LOVE your little tofu turkeys and the marinade sounds amazing!
    We’ve already celebrated our Thanksgiving up here in Canada, but I’ll plan on trying these for Xmas!

  13. Aww, those are so cute! I don’t think I could eat them! I would just be staring at them the whole time haha.

  14. Great idea! Unfortunately I think my family would make fun of me to no end if I brought tofu turkeys (some of my extended family thinks veganism is a little silly). I’m bringing a vegetable pot pie, hoping it will appeal to everyone, but I totally want to try your turkeys for myself at home! I love tofu, and I love how you don’t let the marinade go to waste!

  15. I have been thinking about what to make on Thanksgiving, and this looks perfect. I despise tofurky, and am not a big fan of field roasts.

    If it’s not pizza, it will most likely be this. :)

  16. I am not much into fakeing the meat out in Thanksgiving, but I just LOVE the way the turkey shapes!!! So cute and creative!

    <3 LOVE

  17. Turkey shaped tofu,what a nice idea! And the recipe sounds really yummy,thanks :-)

  18. Last year I brought part of a $20 tofurkey- bleh. It was too tough, rubbery and salty- I can’t wait to try these! Any side suggestions? I was thinking simple roasted root veggies. Or better yet, dessert ideas? Thanks! :)

  19. Oh goodness! I simply must show up to my family Thanksgiving with some of these. I’m glad there is enough time to hunt down the cookie cutter, which in my opinion, is essential for the effect! Love it!!!

  20. Those turkeys look really good! In the gravy, if I don’t have chickpea flour, can I use something else??

  21. I think that this lovely plate of fine food is a great alternative to real turkey meat!!!

    A georgous feast for the eyes!! MMMMMMMM,…

  22. This is a beautiful plate! That gravy looks perfect – bookmarked!

  23. Those tofu turkeys are so cute, and I bet they taste great. Luckily, this year I’m only cooking for two!

  24. Hannah-gorgeous and inspirational as usual! I’m really excited to make these tofu turkeys. I bet i can convince all the little ones in my family to eat these :)

  25. I agree the holidays are a time that it’s difficult to deal with especially if you have to have your meals with family that aren’t vegans. One of your commenters mentioned about how they look at the holiday to be more about family but most people view it for the food and turkey being the showcase.

    • This will be my first Thanksgiving as a vegan. wish me luck. my family members have been supportive but I think it makes other family and friends uncomfortable. any suggestions?

  26. I’m not a fan of Thanksgiving, or really any forced family gatherings. I heart your tofu turkeys though.

  27. Hannah these are SO cute! My mom is cooking a turkey this year, and this is my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian. Even when I wasn’t, I still just wanted the sides & pie! My husband always has to work the holidays, =( so this year I’m going over to my parents house, and I definitely want to make these! They’re too cute not to try =)

    Even though there may be dead turkey’s around, the holiday isn’t about the food it’s about the people so I’m happy I get to see everyone I love. I’ll just have to steer clear of the poor birdie!

  28. Cider gravy? That sounds amazing. And I love the turkey shapes of course. I’m definitely going to have to give these recipes a whirl!

  29. I’ve been feeling so uninspired leading up to this coming Thanksgiving and this idea warmed up my heart! I wish so much that I could have a friends Thanksgiving celebration instead of the non-vegan family event.

  30. You are a lifesaver! I’m not a vegeterian but one of my friends is. I want her to join in on our “Friendstgiving” I am hosting. Now I can serve her something that will still fit in with the theme and will still be delicious. Another person coming also enjoys skipping meat when possible so this is just perfect. Thank you!

  31. I love your tofu turkeys! I’ve been dreading TDay but these little guys could be lots of fun!

  32. i have never gotten my homemade tofurky to taste very good. i will definitely be testing your recipe. happy holidays!

  33. I agree with you, thanksgiving is not my favorite for sure, but I’d love to have some of your tofu turkeys on the day!! Too cute!

  34. Love your pics Hannah! And the tofu turkey is a really good idea!

  35. yumm!! this reminds me so much of one year I went to my friend’s parents for dinner and the two of us carved a 3-dimensional tiny turkey out of a block of tofu, and stuffed it with herby bread and everything. Your marinade sounds amazing, too! yay for cuteness. ^_^

  36. The turkeys are so cute, should probably make them for Christmas.
    Where can I find turkey cookie cutter?

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  38. So clever! And the recipe sounds delish. I love the idea of a simpler tofu main–tofurkey seems like just so much work for so little! These are adorable, too.

  39. This is too cute! I love tofu and would love to try this one out sometime!

  40. Pingback: Vegan Thanksgiving | Animal Rights Blog

  41. Oh Hannah this tofu turkey looks so awesome!! I’ve been really wanting to try out something like this so will be saving your recipe. And I LOVE that you used the leftover marinade for gravy!! Brilliant.

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  44. I know this was posted eons ago, but I have some leftover cider sitting in my fridge, and this would be a perfect use for it. :)

    I’m wondering if you could provide a possible substitute for the powdered veggie stock called for in the Gravy part of the recipe? It seems like it plays a crucial role in the seasoning of the gravy.

    Also, as another person asked, what would be a good sub for the chickpea flour?

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  46. I’m sure they are delicious. I just don’t understand why someone would want to eat something shaped like a turkey. Of course it’s great that it’s not, but looking at them just makes it sadder for me about the real turkeys. Every year I make a gourmet Thanksvegan for veg and not veg who like to attend and label accordinly ie. Seitan Picatta,. I’m no fanatic and certainly have called the mock meats “veg chicken” when doing outreach, but for some reason, this is disturbing. And yes, there are animal cookies – not the same. They have been around forever.

  47. I love it. Although I try to keep from bringing tofu to any family function because if it’s not perfect it becomes the butt of every vegan joke out there. I went with a Seitan Wellington based on Native Foods. Hmmm, maybe I should just volunteer to do a vegan Thanksgiving for 20 next year. Or just come to your house, Hannah!

  48. Pingback: Cider-Marinated Seitan with Caramelized Shallots « In the Living Well

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