On What I Should Have Been Eating

A Gigantic Cheese and Vegetable Sandwich

Between the ages of 12 and 20, I was an (almost) full-time vegetarian. I was terrible at it from a health perspective, eating mostly bagels and cream cheese and cheese pizza (same thing?), along with the occasional Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup for protein. I know that kids can be ridiculous eaters and still survive unscathed, but I grew up in Eugene, OR, a city that is brimming with incredible vegetarian food.  I just preferred to eat at Little Caesars and that Chinese place in the mall, okay?

It wasn’t until many years later that I came to appreciate how unbelievable the food available to us in Eugene really was. I often think enviously of those who still live nearby and can fill up at the Sundance Salad Bar or grab a Yumm Bowl or a Tempeh sandwich at New Day. Or waltz into any market and find Nancy’s Kiefer, Creamy Feta Salad Dressing, Hideaway Bakery Bread, or the mother of all Eugene-made foods, TOBY’S TOFU PATE.

Tofu Pate is the single item that I miss the most out here in the Midwest. I fantasize about eating it with salty tortilla chips, as a dip for vegetables or, my favorite way, on a gigantic cheese and vegetable sandwich.

I have never been able to make my pate as perfectly wonderful as Toby’s, but this is as close as I have been able to get (and it’s pretty darn close).

1 16 oz. package firm tofu, drained

4 scallions, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped

1/2 C. good quality mayonaisse

1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

2 Tbsp yellow mustard (I really think yellow is the best for this, srsly)

2 tsp. granulated garlic

small handful fresh dill sprigs

small handful fresh italian parsley leaves

a few dashes hot sauce (I use about 5 shakes of Tapatio)

2 tsp. salt

2 celery stalks, finely diced

1/2 a green bell pepper, finely diced

Slice the tofu into 3 slabs and wrap in a clean, dry kitchen towel. Apply firm pressure to the tofu and let the towel suck most of the water out.  Crumble the tofu into a food processor and add all of the ingredients except the celery and bell pepper (these will get folded in later).  Run the food processor to combine the ingredients, about 10 seconds.  Scrape down the sides and run again. Continue until everything is thoroughly combined and relatively smooth. Season to taste at this point. If it tastes too bland, try adding more vinegar or salt, but just a little at a time.

Scrape the pate into a large bowl and fold in the chopped celery and peppers.  You can also add the scallion tops, capers, olives, or even some chopped pickled vegetables.  I love it with a little hot giardiniera thrown in. That’s Chicago-Style Tofu Pate, I suppose. 

Hope this will cure someone’s homesickness this week!

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