Tofu Scramble: a classic. When embarking on a veg culinary journey, there are a few recipes that I like to call “the classics”. Among them: soy smoothies, tempeh-bacon, vegan Mac & Cheese, Cashew Cheese, Pasta with Pesto, vegan choco-chip cookies – just to name a few. And when it comes to breakfast, there is nothing more veg-classic than a hearty, savory Tofu Scramble. Lets get in the test kitchen!..
First Bite. I don’t remember the first time I ordered tofu scramble for breakfast. But in college, my breakfast-of-choice was always Amy’s Tofu Scramble breakfast pocket. I loved that thing! But nowadays, I’ve moved on from relying on pre-made foods – especially dishes that with a little practice, I can easily make for myself.
..I love both. But I really wanted to modify my recipe so that the ingredients were a bit more basic – so anyone could whip this dish up in just a few minutes. #Easier!
Tofu for Egg Lovers. I’m pretty convinced that tofu scramble could save the world. Yes, cupcakes were doing a pretty good job, but to take a dish as mainstream and territorial as “scrambled eggs” and give it a worthy vegan makeover – well that’s quite magical. As a reformed egg-lover, I find tofu scramble to be a satisfying substitute.
I think of my Ovo-Lacto-Vegetarian days as “the dark years” of my diet. I’d eat eggs and a little voice in the back of my head would scream, “just think about what you are eating right now!”
..But ignorance is bliss, right? Eventually I kicked my egg habit – it took me a few years though. Frozen yogurt and egg whites were my last non-vegan addictions. And once I fully removed myself from dairy and egg products, I felt a vibrancy and inner calm that I had never felt before – even though I had tried almost every ‘get healthy’ diet out there. That little voice in the back of my head finally shut-up.
Lightbulb: Eggs? Don’t need them! And mastering a basic recipe like tofu scramble is all part of that realization and awakening.
Egg-Replacer Cooking Tip: Good vegan egg replacers include, fruit purees like applesauce, mashed banana, mashed avocado, silken tofu, baking powder, vital wheat gluten, soy yogurt, nut meals (like almond meal), canned pumpkin or squash – mashed yams or potatoes (starch), agar agar mixture, and products like Ener-G egg replacer. (Different replacements work best in different types of recipes. If you have questions – I’m here!)
Tofu Tip: Tofu is like a sponge. It absorbs flavors incredibly well. Give it a chance to sing in your skillet, and it will! Squeeze as much liquid out of tofu before cooking or marinating it – that way more flavor can infuse inside each bite!
Onto my recipe test kitchen…
Investigation One: Type of Tofu. I have always used Extra Firm or Firm Tofu, simply because I never like anything “mushy”. But for the test kitchen I decided to try several types of tofu in several types of shapes. That included silken, aka “mushy” tofu. It turns out, my favorites were: 1) medium-large cubed extra firm tofu and 2) Well-sauteed silken tofu.
I asked my non-vegan husband which he preferred, and he said the silken tofu scramble looked more appealing to a mainstream eater. And I agree. The silken tofu gives more of a ‘scrambled eggs’ look to it. Even when I mashed up the firm tofu into little bits, it still had a slightly tofu-ish feel and texture. So I either go with silken OR keep the tofu in (non-scramble-looking) cubes and infuse it with scramble flavors.
For both varieties, I kept the recipe below the exact same – with one exception: I did add in a drizzle of 2 Tbsp soy creamer to the silken version to make the scramble a bit more creamy.
Investigation Two: Spices and Seasonings. My flavor arsenal for a scramble goes like this: cumin, muchi curry (which contains turmeric, ginger and more), chili powder, pepper, garlic powder, soy sauce or tamari, orange zest, orange juice, vegan buttery spread, apple cider vinegar, salt, nutritional yeast, agave syrup (just a tad), saffron, soy creamer and of course a wide array of fresh veggies – and even a little vegan cheese on top. Of course, I select from this list – not all at once!
Investigation Three: Saute in What? You can make a tofu scramble as healthy as you’d like – depending on what you cook the ingredients in. Fat or water. You can actually make this dish very lite by sauteing the tofu and veggies in seasoned water, rather than in a mixture of vegan butter or oil. Actually, the water-version is quite delish. PCRM’s IPhone App has a great recipe which is ‘water-cooked’. But for me, I like to add some salty vegan buttery spread to my saute. Up to you!
Spiced Citrus Tofu Veggie Scramble
vegan, serves about 3-4
2-3 Tbsp vegan buttery spread
1 large carrot, diced (or 1 cup matchstick carrots)
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 1/2 Tbsp Muchi Curry powder (or use basic turmeric for a less-spicy flavor)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 small orange, juiced (about 1/4 – 1/3 cup juice)
1 tsp orange zest
15 ounces extra firm tofu, cubed or Silken tofu, well-chopped
1-2 cups frozen or fresh spinach
2 Tbsp+ vegan cheese (optional)
1 tsp agave syrup (optional)
sprinkle of nutritional yeast (optional)
serve with: chunky salsa, cinnamon-raisin toast (optional)
* you can switch up the veggies. Try bell peppers, mushrooms or zucchini instead of carrots – or try kale or chard instead of spinach. Keep this dish fresh, by simply changing up the veggie ingredients.
1) Prep all your veggies and your tofu. You want to make sure to use a paper towel or tofu press and squeeze out as much excess tofu liquid as possible. The more water you can squeeze out, the more flavor can infuse inside the tofu.
2) Turn your burner to med-high and add your vegan buttery spread. Allow it to melt and begin to sizzle.
3) Add your carrots, onions – and about half the amounts of: soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, curry powder, cumin and a dash of pepper. (Add the remaining amounts when you add the tofu). Saute until the onions have translucent edges and the carrots have softened.
4) Next, add in the remaining amounts of the seasonings, along with the tofu, orange juice and orange zest – also any optional add-in’s like nutritional yeast or agave syrup. Saute for 4-5 minutes over medium heat.
5) Tip: add in some soy creamer or soy milk OR water OR orange juice if the edges of the pan get dry.
6) At this point, do a taste test and modify the spices as needed. I always end up adding in a dash more of whatever spice it is I’m craving that day. You can also salt your tofu to taste. Salt added will depend on how much soy sauce you use and what your salt preferences are. I’d dash at least 1/4 tsp though to bring out the flavors. Tofu can be quite bland without adding a pinch of salt.
7) When your tofu is just about cooked and all the excess liquid has been absorbed or steamed off, add in your spinach. Saute until heated. Or wilted, if using fresh spinach. Remove pan from heat. You can fold in some vegan cheese if you’d like. Extra ‘nooch’ (nutritional yeast) is a yummy/healthy touch too.
8) Serve hot! I like to serve my scramble over a circle of roasted salsa…
Sides: I like cinnamon raisin grain toast and fresh fruit on the side. And a soy chai tea latte or espresso to go with it. Healthy, happy morning!