Food Vegetarian friendly

Review: Tofurky deli slices

Tofurky deli slices, a perfectly acceptable veggie alternative to meaty cold cuts — as long as you don't compare them directly to meaty cold cuts.

I’m not exactly a vegetarian, but I don’t eat a lot of meat. I also happen to like sandwiches, which means I sometimes struggle with what to put in them. Simple sandwiches with mustard, cheese and deli meats aren’t much of an option if I’m not big on meat, but I can’t help my cravings.

At some point, I realized the part of deli meat I like isn’t the meat itself – it’s the salt, smoke and spices. If there was some way to get all of those in a deli product without the meat, well, I’d be sold.

And that’s when my friend Ben told me about Tofurky deli slices.

I was hesitant at first. I’d tried a Tofurky Kielbasa a while back, and it was absolutely awful. (So awful, in fact, that I ate half a sausage, then threw away the rest of the pack, even though I hate throwing away food.) I’ve also tried less than amazing vegetarian deli slices that filled the void, but never wowed me. But Ben persisted, and after trying a pack of Tofurky Hickory Smoked slices, I was hooked.

To be clear, these are meant for sandwiches. On their own, you’re more likely to notice how they don’t taste exactly like the real thing, but in a sandwich, they’re great. I usually use three slices per sandwich, and combine it with other suitable toppings, sauces and cheeses. Together, it’s a great ensemble performance.

Some tasting notes on the three varieties I’ve tried so far:

Hickory Smoked: The label says they’re smoked in a real smokehouse, and they taste like it. Smoky-salty is the overall character. A little bit plain, but they’ll pair well with a whole lot of other sandwich toppings.

Peppered: I’ve always loved peppered turkey and salami, so this one is right up my alley. The pepper is spicy without being too hot. Tastes surprisingly like one of my favourite brands of real peppered turkey. Pair this with some pepper jack cheese, and you’ve got one hell of a sammich, bub.

Italian Deli: Lots of herbs and spices incorporated into the slice (well hello there, garlic breath!), but the big deal here is the sundried tomatoes. Yowza. I want to try making a grilled sandwich with some of these slices. Slather on some mustard, maybe some caramelised onions, and a slice of cheese.

A few Tofurky slices will usually do me just fine in a sandwich. They're best when they're part of the overall flavour, not the dominant flavour.

RATINGS AND DETAILS

Cost: $3.99 per 156 gram package.

Value for cash money: More per 100 grams than a typical deli meat, but still in the ballpark.

Availability: Hit and miss. Try organic/health/eco shops and larger supermarkets. In Edmonton, Earth’s General Store and Planet Organic carry some of the flavours.

Nutrition?: Between 100 and 110 calories per 52 grams (5 slices). Fortified with lots of vitamin goodness. Lots of protein, and a moderate amount of sodium.

Talking turkey: Yes, yes, you say. But do they really taste identical to turkey? Only to someone who hasn’t had turkey in 25 years.

The verdict: Great on a sandwich, less great when eaten on their own. If you’ve tried other vegetarian fake-meat slices before and weren’t impressed, you may find these considerably better. I know I did.

"Peppered" Tofurky deli slices, still in the package. The slices are stuck together, so you have to carefully pull them apart.

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