Deeply mired in our collective culture and the butt of many a joke, the original Tofurky roast produced by Turtle Island Foods has managed to survive the infancy of veganism, if you will. Even at a time when your Aunt Betsy might that vegans still eat butter and cream, Tofurky was there to save the family dinner, for well over a decade now. Slowly evolving over the years from a modest main meant to serve four, paired with dubious-sounding dumpling “drumsticks,” the contents of a Vegetarian Feast finally deserve such a generous title. Though I had never before considered trying any of those previous incarnations, I can now vouch for the current 3 1/2 pound, all-inclusive Thanksgiving in a box, and let me tell you, it’s worth a taste.
Given the opportunity to review the Feast, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. A vegan who hasn’t tried Tofurky? This was a situation in need of remedying before yet another holiday season came to pass. Made to serve six, the tofu-based roast is filled with wild rice stuffing, and is accompanied by “giblet” gravy, Wishstix, and my favorite part of any meal: Dessert. Amy’s Chocolate Cake, to be precise, which I already knew was a killer little loaf. Designed with the non-cook in mind, it takes only a little planning ahead and some rudimentary knife skills to serve up this celebratory meal in style. Roasted as instructed with a handful of vegetables that were already kicking about the kitchen, the most difficult part of serving a Tofurky is waiting the prescribed hour and half for it to cook to golden perfection, or two and half hours if you forgot to thaw it.
Emerging from its shrink-wrapped tomb looking about as enticing as an overinflated football, it requires a small leap of faith to overcome the lack of visual appeal. Given proper garnishing and a nice wide platter, it becomes quite the impressive entree once sliced thin and ready to serve.
And slice thin you must, as the instructions strongly admonish. Thankfully robust, this request is easily fulfilled, with no worry of tearing apart the roast inadvertently, even if your clumsy Cousin Louie takes over carving duties. Smelling unnervingly like actual poultry, some vegans may very well be turned off by such realism, but I don’t think that this meatless roast will really fool anyone. However, that’s not to say that it falls down in the taste department- Hardly! Surprisingly meaty, the texture was pleasantly chewy yet still tender with a somewhat generic but agreeable savory flavor. If you’re not sure about taking the plunge with a whole roast on Thanksgiving day, just try out the Oven Roasted Deli Slices first; They’re made of exactly the same stuff, but packaged in a more sandwich-friendly format.
Easily my favorite part, the wild rice stuffing provided a much needed textural contrast to the roast, along with adding a hearty starch to this festive meal. If only more could have been packed inside that small cavity! Fairly traditional with a gently herbaceous undertone, it stayed wonderfully moist despite the extended cooking time.
Starting life as a slightly disturbing separated mess in a plastic bag, I was quite leery of the “giblet” gravy from the start. Happily reconstituting with ease after just a minute or two of nuking in the microwave, things improved considerably once it finally hit the table. Although I personally prefer a slightly smoother gravy, the viscosity fits the bill quite nicely, clinging richly to each thin tofu slice while avoiding a gummy mouth feel. Falling on the saltier side of the tracks, the flavor is greatly improved with a very small dose of fresh chopped herbs, but few will object to it served as is.
Eventually, the meal nears a close, stomachs comfortably full, and the question of the Wishstix remains. How should this strange item be served? Literally made of two short pieces of Tofurky Jerky arranged as an “X,” I was somewhat as a loss with what to do with it, especially since there’s no way it could have accommodated six eaters like the rest of the meal was designed for. Ultimately opting to save them as a snack for later, I could have very happily done without this extra item. Does anyone actually serve a real wish bone anymore in the first place? Perhaps the nostalgia is simply lost on me, and other families will get a kick out of it.
Finally, the cake, simply defrosted and sliced, is a perfect ending to a memorable meal. Rich, chocolaty, and impossibly moist, it remains the best vegan chocolate cake available in mainstream stores, in my opinion. Even if all else fails and close-minded family members refuse to taste the festive roast, you will likely have to fight off the hordes to claim your slice of cake.
In case you find yourself at a loss this Thanksgiving or Holiday season, the Tofurky Vegetarian Feast is a safe bet to satisfy veggie guests. Even if you haven’t given a second thought to tomorrow’s holiday up until this point, Turtle Island Foods has made it possible to save the day and still pull out a remarkable meal with close to no effort. Truly, the snide comments and crude cracks about the classic Tofurky are uncalled for; if only those jokers would give it a taste!