Thanksgiving came early to our house this year. Though we’ll be visiting my in-laws for the main big feast, I decided to have a little celebration just for my own little family. After all, we have a lot to be thankful for. Besides, I wanted to try my hand at something that couldn’t easily survive a long car trip, something that, frankly, might be a little too “weird” for my in-laws. After all, one of my unwritten rules is to never serve undisguised tofu to non-vegetarians. Tofu in sauces, desserts, and lasagna is fine, but I try to avoid serving anything that might freak out the tofuphobes. So this little dish was just for us tofuphiles!
I love baked tofu, but it’s not the most festive-looking dish, so I decided to fancy it up a bit and fill it with stuffing. I opted for a brown rice stuffing because I recently made a resolution to avoid refined starches, and I’m not ready to break it, even for Thanksgiving. I used the same seasonings I’d use in my cornbread dressing and made a no-oil gravy to pour over everything. With some steamed broccoli and some mashed potatoes, this was a feast for three people—but we ate every bite! [My mother's cornbread dressing is a "pinch of this, pinch of that" dish with no recipe, but check the end of this post for links to my other favorite holiday recipes.]
Tofu Stuffed with Brown Rice and Mushroom Dressing
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1 pound extra firm tofu (hard Asian tofu is best)
1 cup vegetable broth (I used No-Chicken broth by Imagine Foods)
1/4 tsp. sesame oil
1 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning (or blend of ground thyme and sage)
Cut the tofu in half through the middle (hard tofu will already be cut).
Then cut each of the halves in triangles by cutting down through the top on the diagonal. (Yes, my favorite knife is purple.)
Turn the triangles cut-side down, and cut in half to form eight equal triangles.
Using a slender knife, carefully cut around the edges of the long side of each triangle, about 1/4 inch away from the edge. Be sure to hold the knife at the same angle as the edge of the tofu to avoid cutting through the outside of the tofu. Make your cuts as deep as you can without risking cutting through the outside wall.
Making additional cuts in a grid pattern helps in getting the tofu out.
Use a spoon (a grapefruit spoon works great here) to remove the tofu from the middle of each triangle. Go as deep as you can, being careful to keep the pouch intact. Set aside the tofu that you take out of the middle–you can use it in the gravy.
Put the tofu pouches in a shallow pan that will hold all of them on their sides. Mix the broth with the remaining ingredients and pour it over the tofu, making sure that some goes into the pouches.
Marinate for at least 30 minutes; then carefully turn the tofu over and marinate the other side for 30 minutes or more. When the rice is done, proceed with stuffing.
Brown Rice and Mushroom Dressing
1 large onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
2 tsp. garlic, minced
6 ounces mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. rubbed sage
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 cup long-grain brown rice
2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. salt (optional)
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
Spray a large, non-stick pot with canola oil and set it on medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery, and cook until the onions start to become translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, mushrooms, herbs, and rice and sauté for another minute. Add the water and salt and cover tightly. Turn the heat very low and cook for about 45 minutes, or until rice is tender and water is mostly absorbed. Resist opening the lid until 45 minutes have passed!
Stuffing the Tofu
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Drain the marinade from the tofu and reserve it. Add the parsley and 1/4 cup of the marinade to the rice and stir. Spray two medium-sized baking dishes with non-stick spray. Using a small spoon, gently stuff each piece of tofu with as much rice as you can fit in. Stand the stuffed tofu in one of the two baking dishes. Put the remaining rice dressing in the other dish. Put both dishes into the oven and bake until the tofu is becoming light brown, about 35 minutes. Watch closely to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom. Serve atop additional rice dressing with gravy (recipe below), if desired. Serves 4.
This can be made without the tofu or mushrooms, if you choose.
1 small onion, minced
extra tofu from making Stuffed Tofu
1 clove garlic, minced
5 mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup unbleached white flour (or gluten-free flour of choice)
about 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup plain soymilk
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. thyme
1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1/8 tsp. Liquid Smoke seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste
Add enough vegetable broth to the reserved marinade to make 2 cups of liquid.
Spray a non-stick sauce pan with canola oil. Add the onion and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the tofu and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and cook until they exude their juices. Stir in the flour and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly stir in the vegetable broth mixture. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring, until mixture thickens, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Thanksgiving Menu Planning
I usually keep Thanksgiving dishes fairly simple; because we travel, anything I make has to be easy to transport without danger of being ruined. Besides, most of our favorite dishes are side dishes that require no recipe: mashed potatoes, green beans with “bacon,” fresh cranberry sauce, and roasted sweet potatoes. The one year that my family came here for the holiday, I made a Vegan Nut Roast that everyone liked, but I warn you, it’s not low in fat.
Below is a list of some of my favorite winter holiday recipes. For other people’s favorites, check out the Holiday Dishes at Fatfree Vegan Recipes and Nava Atlas’s Vegetarian Thanksgiving E-book. For gluten-free recipes with vegetarian options, see Karina’s Gluten-Free Holiday Tips, and for everything you ever wanted to know about vegetables, take a look at Alanna’s Thanksgiving Vegetable Collection as well as her links to vegetarian holiday recipes. Or do a Veg Blog Search. Many Canadian bloggers have already posted about their Thanksgiving celebrations, so you may be able to find inspiration there. Also, take a look at this amazing stuffed pumpkin. There are so many great vegetarian ideas out there!
- Baked Tofu
- Pan-Fried Tofu with Mushroom Gravy
- Vegan Nut Roast
- Celebration Pot Pie with Pumpkin Biscuit Crust
- Mushroom, Lentil, and Wild Rice Timbales
- Quinoa and Red Lentil Cutlets
- The Best Vegan Green Bean Casserole
- Cranberry Relish
- Brown and Wild Rice with Asparagus
- Whole Wheat Bread Stuffing or Dressing
- Fingerling Potatoes and Fennel
- Tropical Sweet Potato Delight
- Creamed Turnips
- Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Kale with Cashew Cream Sauce
- Brussels Sprouts with Basil and Garlic
- Asparagus with Roasted Garlic Sauce
- Lemony Quinoa with Butternut Squash
- Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Apple-Pumpkin Delight
- Bryanna’s Vegan Pumpkin Pie
- Maple-Pecan Pumpkin Pie
- Mince “Meat” Pie
- Oil-Free Pumpkin Bread
- Springfield Sweet Potato Pie
- Impossible Vegan Pumpkin Pie