When I first went vegetarian back in the early ’90s, tofu was the subject of all kinds of jokes directed at those following a meatless diet. I’ll admit, even though I was one of those meatless people, I probably cracked a few jokes myself. It took a long time for me to warm up to tofu, and for those years when I wasn’t a fan, I had plenty of snarky comments for vegetarians who attempted to transform tofu into the likes of pasta sauce, chocolate mousse and scrambled eggs.
Photos by Emily Caruso
Here I am today, a couple of decades later, telling you that tofu actually does a pretty darn good job of impersonating unlikely non-vegan food items.
When it comes to taste, tofu really doesn’t have a whole lot going on. Back in my tofu-hating days people told me that tofu would take on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked with. As a current tofu lover I can say this is true in select circumstances. In the case of a tofu frittata, the tofu gets blended up with soy sauce and nutritional yeast, so it can’t help but take on a savory flavor that mimics eggs. Nutritional yeast is easy to find at most health food stores and online. It’s a great way of packing some umami into vegan dishes and tastes a bit like cheese, so if you do much vegan cooking you’ll definitely be able to put it to good use. When you bake blended up tofu it firms up, just like eggs do in a frittata.
Crispy potatoes give a nice contrast in texture to the soft and eggy tofu in this frittata. Since we’re into summer and everyone’s gardens or CSA boxes are soon to be overflowing, I went and threw in some summer veggies as well. Peppers and spinach are abundant this time of year and a sure bet when it comes to creating a tasty frittata. Feel free to get creative and try swapping out whatever veggies you’ve got on hand though. Cherry tomatoes or zucchini might be nice in place of the peppers, while chard and kale would make great substitutions for the spinach. Just make sure to give any tougher greens like kale a bit of extra cook time, which can be achieved by throwing them in during the last few minutes of cooking your potatoes and onions.
A veganized version of a classic brunch favorite. This egg-free frittata is made with savory baked tofu and is loaded with fresh summer veggies.
- 1-14 ounce package extra firm tofu, drained
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional, for color)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium red potato (about 8 ounces), finely diced
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
- 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach, sliced into thin strips (about 2 ounces)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Place tofu, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, cornstarch and turmeric (if using) into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Process until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
- Coat a medium skillet with olive oil and place over medium heat. Add onion and potato. Sauté until lightly browned in spots, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Add garlic, scallions, bell pepper, spinach and black pepper. Fold in tofu mixture until evenly mixed.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly oil 9 inch by 9 inch baking dish and transfer tofu and veggie mixture to dish. (If you're using an oven-safe skillet, you can skip this step.) Smooth out the top with a spatula.
- Bake until firm in the center and lightly browned, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to sit 5-10 minutes before cutting.
Dice your veggies finely to ensure everything mixes well and your frittata holds together when cut. You want between 1/4 and 1/2 inch dice for the potato and pepper. If you have a 10 inch oven proof skillet you can use it for both sautéing and baking, avoiding having to transfer your mixture and dirty an extra dish.