I am thanking my lucky stars that I was given the opportunity to enjoy a week of the most perfect autumn weather one could imagine: sweater weather during the day, quilt weather at night, clear crisp days full of sunshine, and brilliantly colored fall foliage. Of course, a solid wallop of jet lag accompanied this awesome autumnal experience, but it was a small price to pay. Fall was a seasonal experience that was ingrained into me growing up in Pittsburgh; however, I have not experienced it in at least ten years as I’ve spent the past decade living in places where the changing of seasons is a more nuanced experience.
We boarded a plane in the dark on Maui and disembarked 12 hours later into the chill of a brilliant North Carolina afternoon. The majority of the week-long trip was spent on work-related business in Charlotte, but the last few days were spent visiting with my friend Emily in Carrboro, just outside of Chapel Hill. There we were treated to good vegan eats and a sublime fall hike.
Even though we returned to Hawaiian weather in the mid-80s, I was in full fall-eating mode: thick, hearty fare that sticks to the ribs. That kind of mood lends itself perfectly to preparing for Thanksgiving.
If you are still struggling to come up with a Turkey alternative for your Thanksgiving entrée, I highly recommend this recipe. It’s not overly complicated, it’s delicious, and it looks special. You can really dress it up with any number of garnishes: fresh sage leaves, fried shallots, fresh chopped herbs, basil chiffonade, etc. Serve it with a variety of Thanksgiving sides, and you’ve got a lovely, satisfying meal for any and all types of eaters. We enjoyed ours with carrots and brussel sprouts that were roasted in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, fresh chopped herbs, and a generous sprinkle of nutritional yeast.
Stuffed Tofu Smothered in Mushroom Gravy
20 oz tofu
1 tbsp Earth Balance
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups sliced mushrooms
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (I used rosemary, oregano, parsley, and basil from my garden)
Salt & pepper to taste
1 ½ cups “beef” bouillon (I use Better Than Bouillon No Beef Base)
¼ cup flour
¼ cup chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 450F.
2. Melt the EB in a dutch oven or large skillet. Add the onion and sauté for 30 minutes, until the onion is caramelized brown.
3. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute, then add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the fresh herbs and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Remove one cup of the mushroom mixture and set aside in a bowl. Add 1 ½ cups “beef” bouillon to the pot/pan and let come to a boil. Whisk in the flour (be sure to whisk constantly or else your gravy will get lumpy!) and keep whisking for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Add the walnuts to the cup of mushroom mixture that was set aside earlier.
6. Slice the tofu into thick slices. Using a sharp paring knife cut a slit into each tofu triangle. Spoon some mushroom & walnut filling into each triangle. (Do not waste energy fretting over tofu triangles that burst open when stuffed – they are just as delicious!)
A special “thank you” to my hand model, Dan!
7. Place the stuffed tofu triangles into an oiled baking pan. Smother the tofu triangles in gravy. Bake for approximately 50 minutes.
8. Remove from oven, serve, and enjoy!