Weekday Vegetarian Thanksgiving: Tofu Cake Stuffed with Brown Rice and Mushrooms
Photo: Kelly Rossiter
If you are a vegetarian, chances are you've encountered snide remarks about tofu and brown rice. If you are trying to be a weekday vegetarian, chances are you are dreading tofu and brown rice. Worry no more.
This tofu "cake" stuffed with brown rice and mushrooms was the surprise hit of our Thanksgiving dinner. This dish was my substitute for the turkey and it passed with flying colours.Even my mother-in-law liked it, and she normally won't eat tofu. I find that people who don't like tofu often have a problem with the texture, but this dish solves that. This has the texture of a dense, but moist cake and has loads of flavour, both from the stuffing and the tofu itself. It was also surprisingly attractive at the table. The glaze made a beautiful crust on the outside and you could see the stuffing before we cut into it.
Photo: Kelly Rossiter
The recipe calls for pressing the moisture out overnight, but I ended up with about one tablespoon of liquid, so if you forget the night before, or you have space limitations in your refrigerator I wouldn't worry about it too much. This goes in the oven for an hour and a quarter, so it's cooking long before your guests arrive. The recipe says baste every fifteen minutes, but honestly, who has time for that on Thanksgiving. We did baste it a couple of times, and that was enough. Other than that we didn't have to worry about it until it was time to put it on the table.
We served it with a vegetarian mushroom thyme gravy which picked up on the mushrooms in the stuffing and was just fantastic. You could have it without the gravy, but it really finishes the dish nicely.
This makes a lot, using five packages of tofu, but I'm sure you could easily reduce the amounts if you wanted to make it for a family dinner. I know that I'll be making it again the next time I have a buffet dinner and want an impressive vegetarian entree.
This recipe is from the website Chow. I've retitled the recipe, because they called it tofurkey which is actually a brand name. This looks like a lot of work, because the recipe is long, but it really isn't and it's an easy thing to make.
Tofu Cake Stuffed with Brown Rice and Mushrooms
For the tofu cake:
5 (14-ounce) packages extra-firm tofu, drained
2 tablespoons white miso
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
For the glaze:
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 1/2 medium orange)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon white miso
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
For the stuffing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium shallots, small dice
2 medium celery stalks, small dice
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed, halved if large, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
3/4 cup long-grain brown rice
1 cup mushroom broth
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1. Place a colander inside a large bowl and line it with two layers of ultrafine cheesecloth; set aside.
2. Using your hands, break the tofu into roughly 2-inch pieces. Place about half of the tofu in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Add the miso, salt, thyme, pepper, soy sauce, and sage and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the mixture is very smooth, about 2 minutes total. Transfer to a large bowl. Process the remaining tofu until smooth. Transfer to the bowl with the tofu-miso mixture and stir until evenly combined.
3. Transfer to the colander, smooth the top, and fold the cheesecloth over to completely cover the tofu mixture. Set a plate about the size of the inside of the colander on top of the cheesecloth and place a few heavy cans or jars on top of the plate to weigh down the tofu (the weight helps expel any excess water). Refrigerate overnight, or at least 12 hours.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until combined. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
5. Place oil in a medium saucepan with a tightfitting lid and set over medium heat. When it shimmers, add shallots, celery, thyme, and sage, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots just begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes more.
6. Add brown rice and stir to evenly combine. Add broth and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until rice is tender, about 50 minutes. (If the rice has not absorbed all of the liquid, continue to cook, uncovered, until the liquid is absorbed, then replace the lid.) Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for about 10 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork. Stir in parsley and vinegar. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed; set aside to cool slightly.
7. Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with oil and place on a baking sheet.
8.Remove the colander from the refrigerator. Remove the weights and plate and peel away the cheesecloth from the top of the tofu. Using a 1-cup measure, transfer 4 cups of the tofu mixture from the colander to the springform pan and, using a rubber spatula, spread into an even layer. Arrange the stuffing in an even layer over the tofu, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Spread the remaining tofu in an even layer over the stuffing, completely covering it, and smooth it to the edge of the pan. Using a pastry brush, coat the top with a thin layer of the glaze.
9. Bake in the oven until the top is dark golden brown, about 75 minutes, brushing the top with glaze every 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet, about 10 minutes. Run a knife around the inside of the pan before removing the outer ring.