Tofu Roast/ Quill Bird, top/side view

Anytime of year is good for a tofu roast.

Here’s one I made in the spring.

Tofu Roast/ Quill Bird w/roasted vegetables, top side view

Tofu Roast (a.k.a. Quill Bird) with Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes, and Parsnips

But the best time of year to make one is in the fall, when there are plenty of winter vegetables to roast along with it.

Every year I make this tofu turkey for my daughter Quill. She’s never liked chewing the texture of any kind of meat very much, so she loves this.

Most versions call for lining a colander with cheesecloth, crumbling the tofu in it, then pressing it down with a weight overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, you stuff it, unmold it, and bake it a couple of hours.

My version can be whipped up in about half and hour, and then baked for an hour.
Pounding hard bread pieces with hammer

Start by preparing the stuffing first.

My first choice is using fresh rustic ciabatta bread or artisan french bread. My kids like this taste the best, and complain if I use whole wheat bread or gluten free bread (sorry, to those who must be gluten free–it’s still good).

Sometimes I use leftover ends and pieces of bread on hand that I’ve toasted dry and kept in an airtight container to make breadcrumbs with later.
Bag of broken, dried bread pieces

I just put them in a ziplock bag and take a hammer to lightly break them into rough cube like pieces, about the size of croutons.

You just need to add more broth when making the stuffing, and let it steam up a bit to soften.
Pot of stuffing

Any kind of stuffing may be used.

Mine is pretty basic: butter, onions, celery, parsley, fresh sage and thyme, walnuts, fresh bread cubes, broth, and a little salt and pepper.

Cover and let it steam to keep warm while you make the tofu part.
Tofu in food processor

Blocks of firm tofu in food processor

Only firm or extra firm tofu should be used. It varies which type I use according to where I’m shopping at, and what’s available. Try to get tofu made with non-GMO soybeans.

If you use only firm tofu though, you need to add a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch to ensure a firm enough texture.

Soft tofu and silken tofu are too soft to use.

Tofu processed in food processor

Firm tofu processed

Blend the tofu in a food processor until very smooth.

Fresh Rosemary and Thyme

I love fresh herbs– they add so much flavor. Here I have rosemary and thyme.

Mince up 2 T. to add to the tofu mixture.

Processed tofu with powdered bouillon and herbs

Processed firm tofu with powdered vegetarian chicken bouillon, cornstarch, and minced herbs

Blend in the herbs, powdered vegetarian chicken bouillon, and cornstarch (if using firm tofu). (You could actually add in the powdered vegetarian chicken bouillon and cornstarch earlier, when you blend the tofu in the food processor, and just mix in the minced herbs here.)

Powdered vegetarian chicken bouillon is not the same as bouillon cubes (much saltier). You can find it in the bulk bin section in natural food stores. I usually get mine at the Sacramento Natural Food Co-op. Sprouts and Whole Foods may also carry it.

Tofu mixture spread around sides bowl

Tofu mixture made with firm tofu

Line a large oven proof mixing bowl with parchment paper. I use a 2.5 liter glass Pyrex bowl.

Scoop the tofu mixture into the bowl and spread it evenly over the bottom and sides of the bowl.
Tofu mixture mad with extra firm tofu

Tofu mixture made with extra firm tofu

I just have this picture here to show you the difference if you use extra firm tofu.

The resulting mixture looks more like a very soft biscuit dough, and you don’t need to add any cornstarch.
Neatening up tofu edges on top

Pack the stuffing firmly into the middle.

Use a rubber spatula to scrape the excess tofu mixture off the parchment paper around the top, and spread it over the top of the stuffing.
Filled bowl with tofu and stuffing

Smooth out the top.

Trim the parchment paper down close to the bowl edge.
Tofu Roast/ Quill Bird, baked

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.
Tofu Roast/ Quill Bird, baked and unmolded

Remove from the oven and carefully invert the roast onto a foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Peel off the parchment paper from the roast.

If you are avoiding soy, I would think you could use some sort of veggie burger mixture to take the place of the tofu mixture. I’ve been thinking about playing around with a soy free version, but haven’t had a chance to do so yet.
Basting the Tofu Roast/Quill Bird

Baste with a mixture of soy sauce, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and worcestershire sauce. Do this slowly enough to let the baste soak into the roast. If the baste drips down and pools at the bottom, it has a tendency to get really brown and burn.

Bake for another 15 minutes, until it is nicely browned and heated through.

Finished tofu roast/quill bird after brushed w/sauce and baked

Baking the roast in the bowl for the majority of the cooking time helps the roast to keep its shape. No need to press and shape overnight!

Let the roast cool for 10-15 minutes. To place it directly onto a serving platter, turn the bowl over and cover the roast with it (careful though, it’s hot). Lift up the baking sheet, and invert the roast back into the bowl. Lift off the baking sheet and place your serving platter over the top of the bowl. Invert the roast onto the serving platter.

Alternatively, the roast may be lifted up, foil and all, and placed onto your serving platter.

Tofu Roast/ Quill Bird w/roasted vegetables, close up side view

Quill Bird with Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes, and Parsnips

Almost looks like crispy poultry skin.

Since the oven is on for an hour, I usually also roast whatever vegetables are in season in separate pan.

Slice of Tofu Roast/Quill Bird

All we need now are the mashed potatoes and gravy!

Easy Tofu Roast
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A festive alternative to stuffed turkey
Author:
Recipe type: Vegetarian
Serves: 12
Ingredients
Tofu:
  • 3 (14 oz. ea) blocks of extra firm tofu or 3 (14 oz. ea) blocks firm tofu + 2 T. cornstarch
  • 6 T. vegetarian chicken bouillon powder (see note)
  • 2 T. minced fresh rosemary, thyme, or combination of both
Stuffing:
  • 6 c.diced fresh ciabatta bread or artisan french bread
  • 1 c. vegetable or chicken broth
  • ¼ c. butter
  • 1 c. chopped onions
  • 1 c. diced celery
  • ½ c. chopped parsley
  • ½ c. finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh sage
  • ½ tsp. sea salt or to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
Baste:
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1 T. maple syrup
  • 1 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T. worcestershire sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. For the stuffing, start by melting the butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onions, celery, and salt. Cook and stir intermittently until the vegetables are tender. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the bread cubes, parsley, thyme, sage, walnuts,and a few grinds of pepper. Cover and remove from the heat.
  3. Drain the tofu. If they are in big blocks, break up the blocks into big chunks and place in the food processor along with the powdered bouillon and cornstarch (if using). Process until very smooth. Place in a bowl and stir in the minced rosemary and/or thyme.
  4. Line an ovenproof mixing bowl (I use a 2.5 liter Pyrex glass bowl) with parchment paper. Scoop the tofu mixture into the bowl and spread it evenly over the bottom and around sides of the bowl to create a well for the stuffing.
  5. Stir stuffing. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired. If you like a moister stuffing, add a little more broth. Pack all the stuffing into the tofu lined bowl. Use a rubber spatula around the top sides to scrape any extra tofu mixture back down onto the stuffing. Smooth the top. Trim the parchment paper level to the top of the bowl. Bake for 45 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and carefully (caution, very hot) invert the roast onto a foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush with the basting sauce, slowly to allow the roast to absorb the liquid so it doesn’t drip down and pool at the bottom. Bake another 15 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool 10-15 minutes. To place it directly onto a serving platter, turn the bowl over and cover the roast with it (careful though, it’s hot). Lift up the baking sheet, and invert the roast back into the bowl. Lift off the baking sheet and place your serving platter over the top of the bowl. Invert the roast onto the serving platter. Alternatively, the roast may be lifted up, foil and all, and placed directly onto your serving platter.
  8. Note: Powdered vegetarian chicken bouillon is not the same as bouillon cubes (much saltier). You can find it in the bulk bin section in most natural food stores.