Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and readers. What are you thankful for today? What traditions are you looking forward to? Or perhaps you’re creating new ones… Maybe a new tradition is adding a meatless main dish to your Thanksgiving table. Or perhaps you just have a fussy vegan to feed and no idea what to make. Either way, I’ve got you covered.
Pumpkin Seed Crusted Tofu with Cranberry-Rosé Relish.
Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free.
I know most people grimace at the sound of the word tofu, but if prepared correctly, it’s actually really good. I made this dish for thanksgiving this year, and was surprised by how many people ate it, and commented that it tasted like chicken. That’s the thing with tofu, on its own, it can be quite bland. But, it’s not the tofu’s fault. So let’s fix that shall? Lets forever heal your relationship with tofu. Perhaps we’ll tackle turnips next, or is that relationship already beyond repair?
For the best texture, seek out a firm or extra firm tofu. My go-to is the regular tofu from Unisoya. While it isn’t labeled as extra firm, it’s the sturdiest tofu I’ve found to date. Generally speaking, when looking for tofu that will have little more bite to it, search for something that has approximately 13-14 grams of protein per serving. I know that may seem like an odd thing to look for, but it means you’ll be getting a tofu with a higher soy content and lower water content.
If you have a tofu press, go ahead and use it. If not, drain the tofu, and wrap it in a paper towel. Place it on a plate or shallow bowl, and top with a additional plate of cutting board. Place a couple of cans over the top plate to act as a weight and let the water drain for about an hour. Removing the additional water make more room for the marinade to be absorbed and will result in a firmer tofu.
The tofu will taste best with an overnight marinate in the fridge, but if you’re short on time, about 30 minutes at room temperature will work fine. The pumpkin seed crust, gives a nice crispy coating without requiring any frying, making these a little lighter on the stomach and better for your health. Plus you can place them all on a single baking sheet, and in the oven they go. The cranberry relish can be made up to two days ahead of time and simply brought to room temperature before serving. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s jump in!
- 2 16-ounce blocks extra firm tofu
- 3 tablespoons gluten-free tamari
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1 ¼ cups raw shelled pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup gluten-free flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage
- 3 tablespoons egg replacer (such as Ener-G brand)
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- ½ large fennel bulb, diced
- 3 cups fresh cranberries
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup rosé wine
- Zest of 2 oranges
- 2 oranges segmented
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
- To make the Marinade:
- In a small bowl, combine all the marinate ingredients and whisk to combine.
- Slice the bricks of tofu into 8 slabs each. Arrange the tofu in a shallow container or plate, brushing each side with marinade. Pour any remaining marinade over the top, and let marinate for at least 30 minutes, or preferably overnight.
- In a small sauce pan, heat the coconut oil over medium heat until it begins to shimmer.
- Add the diced fennel and sauté until slightly translucent. Add the fresh cranberries and rosé wine.
- Allow the cranberry mixture to simmer until it has thickened and most of the cranberries have popped. Stir in the orange zest and remove from the heat.
- Segment the oranges over a medium bowl, allowing it to collect any fresh juice along with the segments. Stir in the cranberry mixture along with the salt, maple syrup, and chives.
- Set aside to cool completely and serve at room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F, and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- It the bowl of a food processor, combine the pumpkin seeds, flour, salt, pepper, and sage. Pulse until the pumpkin seeds are finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a shallow bowl.
- In a separate shallow bowl, combine the egg replacer and water, whisking to combine.
- Remove the tofu from the marinade shaking off any additional liquid. Lightly coat in the liquid egg replacer mixture, and transfer to the pumpkin seed coating. Gently toss in the pumpkin seed coating, making sure all sides have been coated. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
- Repeat with the remaining tofu, using one hand for the wet mixture and the other for the dry mixture to avoid getting them really gummy.
- Once all the tofu has been coated, lightly mist the slices with an oil mister or drizzle with melted coconut oil.
- Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown, flipping the slices once, halfway through the baking.
- Serve hot, with the cranberry relish.