July 1st, 2010

Tofu Omelets

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Makes 4 omelets
Time: 30 minutes || Active time: 30 minutes

Tofu Omelet

There’s something about an omelet that says “It’s the weekend, dig in and get ready for a day that’s all your own!”. Whether you need a big meal because you plan on taking on the Tour De France or because you intend to laze about in your PJs watching movies with a full tummy, an omelet is the quintessential brunch food.

Omelets are pleasing on so many levels. Aesthetically, of course, with some of the filling peeking out of the omelet’s fluffy, pillowy fold. And then there’s the texture. There’s nothing like, sinking your teeth into a chewy but tender omelet and, delighting in what’s inside— – juicy sauteed mushrooms, velvety spinach, sweet onions. — the world is yours.

But what to expect from a tofu omelet? Not an exact replica of an egg omelet, but a delicious translation nonetheless. Chickpea flour gives the tofu a bit of fluffiness and a an eggy taste. Nutritional yeast adds color as well as a delectable savoriness. Turmeric goes the rest of the way for that, adding a sunshine- yellow hue. And then… black salt. If you haven’t tried it before, and you love the taste of eggs, you are in for a real treat. This Indian salt, also called kala namak, has a sulfuric taste that is reminiscent of egg yolks. I like to add some to the omelet batter, and also sprinkle it on at the end for an even stronger taste. If, however, you are adverse to the taste of eggs you may skip this and just use 3/4 teaspoon of regular sea salt in the omelet. This recipe is modified from Vegan Brunch.

Tip: If using soft tofu instead of silken, some trial and error may be required because the water content varies so drastically from brand to brand. Some of my recipe testers added up to 1/2 cup water and it worked beautifully. But if you’re going to experiment, and you should, do it in half batches and try to have fun with it. (For example, don’t do it if you’re PMS-ing and apt to throw a blenderful of pureed tofu at the wall.) I find it’s best to start by adding 1/4 cup of water to the batter.  Do a mini-omelet test by pouring 2 tablespoons into the pan. If the batter spreads out on its own and firms up when cooking then you are good to go. If it just sits there in a mound and doesn’t budge, then add another 1/4 cup of water to the batter.

2 cloves garlic (optional)
1 14 oz package silken tofu, lightly drained (not the vacuum packed kind), or soft tofu (see tip)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon fine black salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1 tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch

Chop up the garlic up in a food processor. Add the tofu, nutritional yeast, olive oil, turmeric and salt. Puree until smooth. Add the chickpea flour and cornstarch and puree again for about 10 seconds, until combined. Make sure to scrape down the sides so that everything is well incorporated.

Preheat a large, heavy bottomed, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Well-seasoned cast iron works great, but if you’re not sure of the non-stickness of your cast iron, do a test (see tip above) or use a regular non-stick skillet. Lightly grease with either cooking spray or a very thin layer of oil. (The less oil the better for the nice brown speckles we’re going for.) Also,  make sure that you use a large skillet, as you need room to spread out the omelet and to get your spatula under there to flip. Don’t use an 8- inch omelet pan or anything like that. Here you’ll need at least 12 inches (tee hee).

In 1/2 cup measurements, pour omelet batter into skillet. Use the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula to spread the batter out into about 6- inch circles. (It’s okay if it isn’t a perfect circle.) Be gentle when spreading it out, if there are any rips or holes, that is fine, just gently fill them in as you spread the batter. Let cook for about 3 to 5 minutes before flipping. The top of the omelet should dry and become a dull matte yellow when ready to flip. If you begin to flip it and it seems like it might fall apart, give it a little more time. When the omelet is ready to be flipped, the underside should be flecked with light to dark brown when it is ready to flip.  Flip omelet and cook for about a minute on the other side. Keep warm on a plate covered with tin foil as you make the remaining omelets.

Stuff omelet with the fillings of your choice then fold over. Once the omelet has been filled, sprinkle with a little extra black salt, since some of its flavor disappears when cooked.

Fillings options: It’s What’s Inside That Counts
It’s hard for me to imagine produce that wouldn’t find its calling stuffed into an omelet. When it comes to omelet fillings, think fresh and you can’t go wrong. Look deep within yourself that morning and find your spirit vegetable. And if that doesn’t do it for you, hit up your farmer’s market and go with what’s in season. Each of these fillings makes enough for 4 four omelets. Mix and match them to your heart’s content and come up with scrumptious fillings of your own.

Mushrooms And Spinach
Preheat a large pan over medium heat. Sautée 4 cups sliced cremini mushrooms in 2 tablespoons olive oil. After about 5 minutes, when mushrooms are soft, add 2 cloves minced garlic and about 3 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme. Sautée about 3 minutes more, add fresh black pepper and a few dashes of salt to taste. Stuff into omelets and divide 2 cups of fresh, chopped spinach amongst them. The spinach will wilt in the omelet. Top with homemade cheezy sauce or shredded vegan cheese and fold.

Grilled Marinated Asparagus
Marinate 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed, in a mixture of 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 smashed cloves of garlic, fresh black pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Let sit for at least an hour or overnight. Grill asparagus on a preheated hot grill or grill pan for about 8 minutes, flipping once. Divide amongst omelets, top with tahini sauce and fold.

Roasted Tomatoes, Ricotta And Basil
Preheat an oven to 300° F. Slice 2 pounds of plum tomatoes lengthwise. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and fresh black pepper. Place tomatoes face down on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for about an hour and a half. Stuff omelet with Cashew Rriccotta and about 10 leaves fresh basil for each, then add tomatoes and fold.

Sausage And Peppers
Preheat a large pan over medium high heat. Saute 4  sliced sausages and 2 medium diced red peppers in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Stuff into omelets and, if you like, top with homemade cheezy sauce  or shredded vegan cheese and fold.

Shredded Swiss Chard
Use one bunch of chard. Remove stems and layer leaves on top of each other. Roll up into a bundle and thinly slice. Preheat a large pan over medium heat. Saute 3 minced cloves of garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil for about 2 minutes. Add chard and saute until completely wilted, add splashes of water if necessary to get it to cook down. Salt to taste. Stuff into omelets and top with homemade cheezy sauce or sprinkle with shredded vegan cheese and fold.

Burnt Broccoli
My aunt Bonnie invented burnt broccoli, probably by accident. It’s simple and even a little silly, but I absolutely love it. Preheat a large pan over medium. Sautée 4 cups of broccoli florettes in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Leave them alone for 2 minutes at a time so they can get a bit charred, then mix. Do this for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle on salt to taste. Stuff into omelets and sprinkle with shredded vegan cheese if you like, and fold.

Omelet Rancheros
Use the bean recipe from butternut rancheros to stuff into omelets. Top with fresh salsa and guacamole.

Capers And Broccoli Rabe
This is a favorite, and maybe the only one where vegan cheese is a requirement for me. Preheat a large pan over medium heat. Saute 3 cloves minced garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add 1 bunch of chopped broccoli rabe. Saute for about 7 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons capers and sauté just until heated through. Divide amongst omelets, top with shredded vegan cheese and serve.

Guacamole And Potato
Stuff with guac and homefries or roasted potatoes. Serve salad on the side instead of potatoes.

Denver Omelet
Preheat a large pan over medium heat. Sauté 1 1/2 cups of diced seitan, 1 small diced red onion and 1 diced green pepper in 2 tablespoons olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until browned. Drizzle in 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke and cook for a minute more. Stuff filling into omelets, sprinkle on vegan cheese if you like, and fold.

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