It can be the punchline of jokes and the recipient of raised eyebrows, but the truth is that tofu turkey, while not having the exact same texture of the bird, can be quite tasty. It's used as a vegetarian alternative for Thanksgiving, but is also enjoyed year-round in a variety of meals that would otherwise include meat.
Why Tofu Turkey?
People eat meat for protein and amino acids, but also because they like the taste. Most of us were raised on meat and so going vegetarian can feel like an exercise in deprivation, especially at holiday time. Never mind that what usually excites everyone at the table most are the side dishes, the idea of not having a turkey as a presentation dish seems wholly wrong.
A tofu turkey will not shape into a bird, but it can replicate the taste of a roasted turkey nicely. Tofu is made of soybean curd and has no real taste of its own, which makes it ideal for using in stir fry dishes, curries and stews, because it absorbs the taste of everything around it. Extra-firm tofu has a strong texture that allows it to act as an excellent meat substitute in a variety of dishes. And because tofu is so rich in proteins and other nutrients, it's a nutritional meat substitute as well.
The Fun of Tofurky
Tofu can be the basis of many meat substitutions, but turkey is one at which it excels, which is why there are so many recipes for it and even a whole brand: Tofurky. Because its name is so funny, Tofurky has been mentioned on a number of television sitcoms, thus increasing awareness even if it is the butt of a joke. Tofurky is one of the leaders in the world of tofu turkey and has a number of products to tempt even the most skeptical carnivore. Some of their most successful products are their sausages. They make three flavors: Beer Brats, Kielbasa and Italian. All can actually be grilled, so you can have a classic barbecue, including the sizzle. They also go well in buns or in any recipe that calls for chopped meat. If you're looking for a vegetarian presentation dish, try timpano with the Tofurky Italian sausage inside. It's worth a taste.
Additionally, you can get Tofurky burgers, lunch meat and holiday meals. Their Tofurky Feast is 100% vegan and even includes Tofurky "wishstix" for those who feel the meal is not complete without a wishbone to break. It also has a Tofurky roast, cranberry apple potato dumplings, "giblet" and mushroom gravy and wild rice stuffing. The roast and sides can all be purchased separately as well.
Tofurky makes a point of noting that its products are all made from tofu, rather than textured tofu powder that sometimes is the basis of other meat substitutes. This may explain why its overall taste and texture are so superior.
Play With Your Food
Preparing a big meal can be pleasant, but only a few cooks ever consider it truly fun. However, because tofu can be molded into shapes (if you have the time and interest), making a tofu turkey can be a blast. You can bake it in a mold or mold it yourself. Look online for people's pictures of successful drumsticks! But you don't have to be wed to shaping the tofu into a discernible bird. Rather, you can bring back the medieval style of presentation feasting with a vegetarian twist. With a bit of practice and care, tofu can be molded into all sorts of shapes. If you aren't thrilled with its color, lay the stuffing over it, or make a glaze. This method of playing with food is a great way to get children excited about vegetarian cooking and eating - and is fun for jaded adults, too!