I was a vegetarian for a good fifteen years — all through college and most of my twenties. It was never a huge struggle for me because my family didn't eat a great deal of red meat growing up and I wasn't crazy about fish at the time, so it was a natural transition in many ways. I went to college in Boulder, CO, and as anyone who either lives or has visited Boulder knows, it's a very tofu-friendly city. It's been years since I've been back, but I recall eating my fair share of tofu scrambles while there and recently I've been recreating a few of my favorites at home.
Tofu scrambles are a great recipe to have in your back-pocket because they're so darn simple and can often trick even the most ardent tofu-hater into sitting down to a hearty, vegetarian breakfast. The main ingredients in any good tofu scramble are the tofu, obviously, and also the spices. The turmeric gives it that characteristic yellow color, although some folks use nutritional yeast instead or in conjunction with it (a very Boulder, CO move, indeed). Other than that, you can really create your own recipe based on what's in the refrigerator or what you're in the mood for that day.
Spinach and sun-dried tomatoes laying around? Toss them in with a little crumbled feta for a Greek version. Sautéed mushrooms, leeks and corn in the spring or summer would be wonderful. For this particular version, you could toss in a few black beans and chop up some cilantro for an even more amped-up version of a Southwest scramble. The Anaheim pepper isn't spicy which is why I chose it here. In fact, it's more sweet than spicy and simply adds another layer of flavor to the scramble. If you've never tried an Anaheim pepper, they're a great way to boost flavor in a dish without adding spice. So the options are endless here, and these days I'm finding this a really nice way to mix up the weekend breakfast routine and get in a little protein first thing in the morning.
→ Quick note: Turmeric stains! Keep it away from your favorite dishtowel.
Southwestern Tofu Scramble
1 16-ounce package firm tofu
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced white onion (from 1/2 small onion)
3/4 cup finely chopped red pepper (from 1 small pepper)
1/2 cup finely chopped Anaheim pepper (from 1 medium pepper)
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste at the end
1 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 tablespoons chopped green onions (about 2), for serving
3-4 tortillas, warmed, for serving
1 sliced avocado, for serving
Sour cream, for serving, optional
Remove the tofu from its package and set down on a plate lined with paper towels (or a dry, clean dish towel). Cover in another layer of paper towels and press and blot well to remove excess moisture. Place in a medium bowl and mash well using your favorite fork. You're looking for a crumbly consistency.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, red pepper and Anaheim pepper and cook until soft, 3-4 minutes. Stir if needed to prevent sticking.
Stir in the coriander, cumin, garlic powder and salt and cook until just incorporated and fragrant, 1 minute or so. Stir in the mashed tofu and the turmeric along with 2 tablespoons water, and cook until the mixture is warmed completely, 1-2 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt if you'd like.
Scoop a generous portion of tofu scramble atop a tortilla and garnish with green onion and sliced avocado. A dollop of sour cream is optional, but nice.
(Images: Megan Gordon)