Extolling the virtues of tofu to a meat-and-potatoes crowd is hard. Like, losing-weight-for-your-high-school-reunion hard. But one day your daughter will announce that she’s vegan. Or your doctor will report your cholesterol numbers with a disapproving pinchy face. And then you will gaze at tofu with a newfound appreciation, as if life were a 1980s romantic comedy, and the tofu just removed her nerdy glasses.
Tofu is nutritionally magical. A mere half-cup of tofu contains around 10 grams of plant-based protein, and, unlike meat, is cholesterol-free and blessed with dietary fiber. But if you’re going to embrace tofu with open arms, it needs to look and taste good, too. And that, my friends, is why we dress tofu with fresh produce and spices. The visual appeal of charming little ramekins cannot be overstated, either.
When working with tofu for any recipe, a little homework is in order. Do not rip open the package and plop it into a bowl. Instead, gently birth your tofu from its container, leaving behind the water that keeps it fresh and happy. Sandwich your tofu in between layers of paper towels. Then press the tofu to remove excess moisture. I mean really press; use pie weights, soup cans, or yearbooks to squeeze it. You may be tempted to skip this step, especially since this frittata recipe calls for adding water later. But don’t. Pressing is a control thing; just like when bakers use unsalted butter and then sprinkle a pinch of salt back in. We want to regulate the amount of liquid in our frittatas so that the tofu whips up fluffy and egg-like.
I made my frittatas with yellow onion for flavor, and red and orange bell peppers for color. You can just as easily add mushrooms, cauliflower, chives, leafy greens or zucchini. The key is to dice the ingredients as small as time and patience will allow. Smaller veggies saute quickly and blend into the frittata seamlessly. But if you’re having the kind of day (or life) that makes Type A vegetable chopping laughable, rip open a bag of pre-sliced vegetables and give them a few extra minutes in the skillet.
Then comes the fun part. You get to jazz up neutral-tasting tofu with your favorite flavors. My people love hot sauce; I added enough to fill a bathtub. If heat is not your favorite, go heavier on the mustard, which has the added benefit of coloring the tofu an eggy-shade of yellow.
If you really want a frittata that tastes like the real deal, pick up a little kala namak at a specialty cooking store. A black salt that hails from South Asia, kala namak is naturally perfumed with sulfur, and everything it touches tastes like eggs. While you’re stocking your vegan pantry, buy a dollar’s worth of nutritional yeast from your regular market’s bulk food bins. Not to be confused with active dry or brewer’s yeast, nutritional yeast tastes salty, nutty and a little cheesy. Here, it adds savory bottom notes to the frittatas. If you’re trying this recipe to support a lifestyle and diet change, a little investment in exotic salt and “nooch” will go a long way in making vegan food taste like your old favorites. Because, just like your high school reunion, sometimes reaching back can help you move forward.