Saturday, January 26, 2013

Spiced Citrus Tofu Veggie Scramble

I'm at it again—in defense of tofu.

I woke up on this lazy Saturday morning, in deep rumination over what kind of omelette to make for breakfast; conducting a complete mental inventory of all available veggies and cheeses. I open the fridge, and:

No eggs. I blink. No. Really? Really, confirms the refrigerator. It's 17°F degrees outside, Accuweather informs me. Feels like: 11°F. Inside, I'm already wearing a blanket and wool socks. So my corner bodega run is out of the question.

And then I see, partially obscured in the crowded kitchen cabinet, a box of silken tofu. It is staring at me. (It IS.) I challenge you, it smirks silently. OK, I think, challenge accepted! Let's do this. I've been reading a lot of rave reviews over tofu breakfast scrambles; egg-lovers swear they are converts to the soy substitute based solely on this dish.

My recipe hails from Kathy at Lunch Box Bunch, a reputable vegan who names the breakfast tofu scramble a "hearty, savory veg-classic." This Spiced Citrus Tofu Veggie Scramble recipe was test-kitchen approved by her non-vegan boyfriend. I have to admit, I definitely had my doubts going in: orange juice, soysauce and tumeric in the morning?! Hmm...I thought I'd be back to eggs first thing Sunday morning. But once again, the tofu won me over, fair and square.

This recipe is fantastic. The silken tofu was so light and airy, producing a crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth effect. The orange juice, apple cider vinegar and soy sauce yielded a very tempered acidity, and the light spice provided flavor without overpowering in the least. Put it this way: even though the scramble has hints of tumeric and cumin, this is NOT an Indian curry dish. It is 100% breakfast appropriate. A bountiful assortment of veggies add a wonderful flavor and nutrient boost to the piquant protein, plus a lovely crunch thanks to the kale and carrots. All wrapped up in a whole-wheat tortilla, this scramble is the perfect way to start your day. I enjoyed the tofu veggie scramble wrap plain, but you could definitely serve with a side of salsa.

Another nice things about tofu breakfast scrambles is their versatility; seasonal/favorite vegetables are welcomed based on your preference—Kathy recommends mixing it up to keep the recipe fresh—and spices are flexible. Tumeric is often used because it's yellow color is reminiscent of eggs, but if you're not feeling the spices, consider mixing your scramble with chopped parsley or basil. Cheese (vegan or real) is also a great addition; I chose feta, which complemented the leafy greens.

As I had already decided I was not leaving my kitchen, I made a few edits to the recipe based on my ingredients at hand.

Spiced Citrus Tofu Veggie Scramble (derived from Lunch Box Bunch)
Serves 3-4

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot, shredded (or 1 cup matchstick carrots)
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp tumeric
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 small orange, juiced (about 1/4 - 1/3 cup juice) +1 tsp orange zest OR 2 Tbsp orange juice concentrate
15 ounces extra firm tofu, cubed or Silken tofu, well-chopped
1 cup frozen or fresh spinach

1 cup kale, thinly sliced, ribs removed
Optional veggies: shredded zucchini, swiss chard, bell pepper, mushrooms, tomato
Optional cheese: feta, mozzarella, cheddar, vegan cheese
Whole-Wheat tortillas


1. Prepare tofu, squeezing out as much excess tofu liquid as possible. (This can be achieved by wrapping tofu in a paper towel and microwaving for 1-2 minutes).
2. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots, onions, and about half the amounts of soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, tumeric, cumin and a dash of pepper. Saute until the onions have translucent edges and the carrots have softened, about 5 minutes.

3. Add in the remaining amounts of the seasonings, along with the tofu, orange juice and orange zest (or orange juice concentrate). Saute for 4-5 minutes over medium heat, cover off so the excess liquid evaporates.

4. Taste-test the mixture and modify the spices as needed.
5. When tofu is just about cooked and all the excess liquid has been absorbed or steamed off, add in spinach and kale. Saute until veggies wilt.
6. Remove pan from heat. Fold in cheese, if desired. Transfer scramble to a large bowl.
7. In the same pan, heat a light coating of olive oil from a spritzer (or cooking spray). Add tortillas, one at a time, and cook for 2-3 minutes, until tortilla browns. Flip and cook for same amount on the other side. Spoon scramble into warm tortillas, and serve with salsa if desired. 

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