The holidays are upon us, a time of celebration and feasting. It is hard to imagine celebrating anything without food and, at this time of year, long standing traditions dictate what that food shall be. In almost all cases this includes a turkey or other bird.
However, as 2017 turns into 2018, our lives are more complicated than they used to be. Everyone (not just us Prime Women!) is getting older and this usually means being more concerned about health and diet. A big meat-based meal may no longer be our preference or may be contrary to medical advice. Think of the cholesterol!
Nowadays, we can’t just put a meal on the table and expect everyone to dig in and say thank you no matter what is served. Dinner invitations must include requests about dietary constraints. A party without at least one vegetarian or vegan is becoming unusual. No turkey for them.
The challenge is to find a healthy alternative to turkey. But it can’t just be a salad. For the holidays, we want something special and festive. The answer comes from the old kitchens of Quebec, a Francophone province in Canada. It is tourtiere.
Tourtiere is a traditional savory pie that is eaten at this time of year, often on the eves of the holidays. Like many dishes that used to be reserved for special occasions, it is now consumed throughout the year. I have even seen it on a breakfast menu in Quebec as an alternative to ham or bacon.
If you Google, tourtiere you will find many recipes, all of them meat-based and heavy on the pork. However, there is a wonderful vegan version that is worthy of pride-of-place at any festive table. The ingredients are nutritious and not expensive. This alternative to turkey dish does take some putting together, but it can be prepared in advance and even frozen before baking. Thaw before putting it into the oven. The pie crust can be purchased or homemade.
For a gluten free alternative to turkey, omit the pie crust, pack the filling into a baking dish and top with mashed potatoes for a cottage pie. I always zap some raw onions in the microwave to take the heat out, then chop them finely and add to the mashed potatoes. Delicious.
Tourtiere Style Savoury Pie
1 cup (250 ml) raw oats
1 cup (250 ml) boiling water
4 large onions
4 or more cloves garlic to taste
1 package firm or extra firm tofu (12 ounces or 350 grams)
½ cup (125 ml) soy sauce
Oil for frying
¼ tsp (2 cc) each nutmeg, cloves sage or other herbs
Pie crust (top and bottom) for one pie
Cover raw oats with boiling water and let stand
Chop the onions and garlic cloves and sauté in oil.
In food processor, chop the tofu, mix with ½ cup soy sauce, and sprinkle in nutmeg, cloves, sage and/or other herbs as desired.
Mix together the prepared tofu, fried onions and soaked oatmeal and fill an unbaked pie shell. Cover with pie crust and bake at 350F (175 C) about 50 minutes or until crust is nicely browned.
Happy, healthy holiday feasting – and have a great 2018!