It’s chicken salad the way my mom used to make it–but with no chicken, mayo, or hard-boiled eggs. So maybe it’s not exactly my mom’s chicken salad, but it’s close enough to satisfy my craving for something savory and crunchy to put between two slices of bread.
There are a lot of “chickenless” salad recipes on the internet, and while I’m sure they’re great, none of them approach the 50’s-style simplicity of my mother’s chicken salad, seasoned mostly with sweet relish and copious amounts of mayonnaise. I love a mouth-burning spicy meal just as much as the next Louisianian, but when it comes to my tofu “chicken” salad, I go old-school. Sure, you can spice this up with smoked paprika or chipotle pepper, but I like it mild and slightly sweet. Just like my mother makes–or would, if she were a vegan.
- 1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth or “no-chicken” broth
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 2 1/2 tablespoons tofu-cashew mayo or other vegan mayonnaise
- 2 1/2 tablespoons sweet relish
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard (or more to taste)
- 2 tablespoons sliced or slivered almonds (optional)
- 1 teaspoon chopped chives (optional)
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the tofu into about 8 equal slices, and then cut those slices in half. Place two paper towels (one on top of the other) or a clean tea towel on the counter and place the tofu slices on top. Cover with two more paper towels or tea towel. Gently press each slice of tofu until the towels are saturated with water. Replace the towels on top with another layer and press until most of the water is pressed out of the tofu. Place the tofu on the prepared baking sheet.
- Mix the broth, soy sauce or tamari, thyme, sage, and pepper. Pour half of it over each slice of tofu. Turn the tofu over and pour the remaining liquid over it. Place it in the preheated oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until tofu is beginning to brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and let it cool on the baking sheet.
- Once the tofu is cool, tear each piece into small, irregular pieces. (You can also cut it, but it looks more natural if you tear it and somehow tastes better, too.) Place it in a medium mixing bowl and add all remaining ingredients. Mix well, and add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until completely chilled. Serve in sandwiches, on top of salad, or rolled into lettuce leaves or tortillas.