Ode To Cornelius Turkey-less Roast

Cuddle a Turkey This Holiday Season!


I love a good meat analogue. Yes, they tend to be more processed but I still enjoy them once in a while. When I was macrobiotic in the 80s I learned to make and cook with seitan. It was boiled up with seasoning and looked like a brain floating in pond water. But once added to a dish it was quite magical. Setian or “wheat meat” has been used in Buddhist cuisines for centuries. It is high in protein and can mimic so many meat dishes from our youth. Sadly gluten-intolerance has become ubiquitous. I think it has more to do with pesticides and the environment than the actual grain, but regardless – if you are celiac or gluten-intolerant then this dish is not for you.

I named this dish after Cornelius, AKA “Corno”, who was Esther The Wonder Pig’s rescue brother. He was my favorite celebrity – the Cary Grant of turkeys. Always handsome, dapper, talented, and quite the showman. He and Esther both lived long and happy lives at the Happily Ever Esther sanctuary thanks to their kind two dads, Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter.

I cuddled with the turkey residents at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY one summer when I stayed there for a weekend with our son Judah. It was an amazing experience and what stuck with me the most were how curious, friendly and personable the turkeys were. They climbed into my lap and chatted with me in their sweet turkey language and absolutely loved under-the-wing massages. I encourage everyone to meet a turkey and you will see how there is no difference between them and our dog and cat companions!

*I adapted this dish from Sam Turnbull’s fabulous roast recipe. She uses tofu which is great, but I happen to love chickpeas. I tried them but they didn’t work out so great in it. Instead, when I tried homemade chickpea tofu it was perfect! That and my favorite miso – chickpea!

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Ode To Cornelius Turkey-less Roast

recipe from Lisa Rice's Kitchen Plantastic


1 14 oz package of garbanzo bean/chickpea tofu (buy it or make your own the night before – or several hours ahead)

1.5 cups vital wheat gluten

3 T nooch

1 T chickpea miso

1 cube or 2 tsp chicken-free bouillon ( I use Edward & Sons which contains oil, but there are brands without it like Hella Phat No Chicken Bouillon powder and Butler Foods which makes the soy curls)

2 tsp poultry seasoning

1 tsp onion granules

1 tsp garlic granules

optional: 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt


1 rice paper round

1/4 cup melted vegan butter, olive oil or veggie broth

5 cloves minced garlic

2 tsp tlow sodium amari

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp dried rosemary

Cracked black pepper


*Garbanzo Bean/Chickpea Tofu

1 cup chickpea flour

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground turmeric

3 cups water, divided




Garbanzo Bean/Chickpea Tofu: Spray an 8×8 square pyrex (or other not too big glass dish) with a little olive oil. Bring 1.5 cups of water to a boi in a panl. Meanwhile, whisk the chickpea flour, salt and turmeric together in a bowl, then add the other 1.5 cups water and whisk until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the boiling water, and whisk over a medium-high heat for 8 minutes until thick and glossy. Pour immediately into the prepared dish and allow to cool completely, at least one hour. Cover and refrigerate until use.

Preheat oven to 400.

Roast: Pulse roast ingredients in food processor until it lumps into a big ball. Shape it into an oval (like a breast),  wrap it in foil and steam for an hour. Allow to cool, then stick in fridge overnight.

Mix together the basting ingredients. Set the roast on an oiled baking sheet or parchment paper and baste. Dip the rice paper in water and drape it over the roast. Baste the time paper really well so that it is sticking to the roast on all sides. Bake for 15 minutes, baste some more, and bake an additional 20 minutes or until the skin is golden and crispy. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Great leftover for sandwiches!

Lisa Rice

Sr. Health Mentor & Director of Content and Promotion