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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How to make a Tofurkey taste good!

I have been unwilling to eat conventional meat for many years; my struggle with meat products began when I was in 8th grade. So, finding happy thanksgiving foods has always been an adventure, especially when I also stopped eating dairy products five years ago. My parents are amazingly accommodating, and they made many dairy-free sides for me like butter-free corn and potatoes, smashed turnips, pilsbury croissants, and other delights, but they did not prepare any imitation meat for me. I am sure that if I requested it, my mom would have obliged, but it became my thanksgiving contribution to prepare the Tofurkey. The first year I brought home a Tofurkey from Trader Joes, I diligently followed the instructions on the box, and honestly it did not taste very good. I think the honest truth is that actual tofurkey, the textured vegetable protein that the stuffing filled ball is sculpted out of, just is not delicious. But, anything can be dressed up for a special occasion and tofurkey can too! In the years following that first tofurkey thanksgiving, I perfected my tofurkey preparation procedure, and my tofurkies now taste very, very delicious. Last year, my carnivorous husband enjoyed the tofurkey I made for thanksgiving so much that he suggested we purchase a second one after the holidays and have it for dinner on a random regular night. This is a true story and I am going to share my secrets for a tofurkey so good even the non-vegetarians at your table will have no choice but to compliment you.

Your basic Tofurkey roast can be purchased almost anywhere these days, but surefire sellers are whole foods and local organic chains like Sprouts here in the Southwest. The baste and the vegetable bed are key for making a delicious Tofurkey.

First, prepare the baste:
1/2 cup olive oil
The Juice from a whole lemon
4 garlic cloves pressed (more if they are small)
Salt and Pepper (be generous)
Fresh Sage, Oregano, Thyme, and Rosemary torn

Next, cut your selected root veggies into 1" cubes. I suggest turnips, sweet potatoes, small red potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and onions. The turnips and parsnips really add a lot of flavor, it is best if they are included!

Toss the veggies in the baste and then arrange in a roasting pan or a corningware dish.
Rub the remaining baste all over the torfurkey (thawed and metal ends removed) and then place the tofurkey on its bed of veggies.
Pour any remaining baste over the tofurkey and then lay sprigs of fresh herbs over the torfurkey.
Cover with aluminum foil or glass dish cover.
Cook at 350F for 1hr 15 minutes.

The box says to slice it thin and they are serious! The thinner you slice your tofurkey, the better it will taste.
The gravy that comes in the box is a yummy addition, but the best part of this dish is the stuffing and the roasted veggies.

Also, tofurkey leftovers may be even better than 1st day tofurkey!

All that being said, today I went to Trader Joe's today to pick up my tofurkey for this thanksgiving, but TJ's has developed their own tofurkey and was not selling the brand name product. Rather than shopping around, I bought the TJ "tofurkey" and am going to prepare it the same way I would a real tofurkey. I will report back as to which one was better!

Also, if anyone has any vegetarian thanksgiving tips, please share!