As much as I love my morning bowl of oatmeal, it feels good to have something different for breakfast every now and then. Lately, I’ve been trying different breakfast foods – from salads, to socca, and steamed vegetables with panfried tofu – and while I enjoyed them all, the recipe I’m sharing with today is one of my favourite experiments.
Before I committed to making my version of a vegan frittata, I’ve searched the web for inspiration. Most of the recipes I saw called for the use of cornstarch or arrowroot to thicken the tofu “custard” and make it firmer. I have nothing against those ingredients, but since I had neither of them at home by the time I was making the frittata, I made it without them and it turned out just fine. However, if you want to be able to cut a perfect slice out of it you have to be patient and wait at least half an hour after it comes out of the oven.
The frittata also becomes firmer the longer it stays in the fridge, and I might say I actually like it better the day after it’s baked – it’s incredible how the flavours improve and become more pronounced overnight. You don’t really need to use the vegetables I used here, and I’m sure that red peppers and/or leeks would be great additions or substitutions.
Springtime Vegan Frittata
serves 6 to 8
250 g / 1 large onion, finely cubed
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
690 g fresh firm tofu, cubed
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 Tablespoons brewer’s yeast (optional)
grated zest of one lemon
220 g / 1 small broccoli head, cut into medium sized florets
295 g / 1 large bunch spinach
240 g boiled peas (frozen is fine)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Grease a springform pan with oil and set aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the onion, garlic, olive oil and dried thyme. Cook, stirring often, for 5-8 minutes, or until the onion has softened and browned just a bit.
Add the broccoli florets to the bowl of a food processor and pulse 3 to 4 times, or until the florets are just broken down (you don’t want to fully blitz the broccoli).
Add the broccoli to the skillet with the onion and garlic mixture and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. Next, add the spinach and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook until the spinach is wilted – no longer than 2 minutes.
Add the tofu to the bowl of the food processor, along with 1 teaspoon of salt, the turmeric, brewer’s yeast (if using) and lemon zest, and blitz until smooth.
Add the spinach and broccoli mixture to a large bowl, followed by the puréed tofu and the cooked peas. Gently mix the ingredients until everything is well incorporated. Season with freshly ground black pepper and an extra pinch of salt, if necessary.
Add the frittata mixture to the prepared springform pan. Smooth the top with the back of a spoon and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Let it cool in the pan before unmolding and serving.
I’ve decided, a couple weeks ago, to start experimenting with gluten-free recipes, specially baked goods. I’ve been reading a lot on how to work with different gluten-free flours, and started having fun experimenting with them. Vegan baking is, by itself, a challenge; but baking vegan and gluten-free goodies can be even more challenging, specially when you realize, after some reading, that even rye and spelt flours have gluten on them (until a few days ago, I was convinced they didn’t). But the thing is: once you get succeeded at baking vegan and gluten-free, you know that everybody – vegans, non vegans, and people with food allergies – can happily enjoy what you’ve prepared, and that’s the great thing about it.
So, on saturday, I’ve spent the whole afternoon in the kitchen baking gluten-free muffins and cakes, and was really surprised on how good everything has turned out. These corn and broccoli muffins is the very first gluten-free baked good I’m posting on Veggies on the Counter (and many others will come in the future), and they are/were surprisingly fluffly and tasty – give me them toasted with a little butter, along with a steamy soup, and I’m in heaven. The recipe can be easily adapted too: you can substitute the broccoli for corn kernels, or simply ommit those add-ons, for a simpler, but not less tasty, version. And if you’re not concerned with gluten-free baking at all, just substitute the white rice flour for unbleached all-purpose.
Gluten Free Corn and Broccoli Muffins
(Makes 6 muffins)
100 grams broccoli, cut very finely, plus 6 medium-sized broccoli florets
130 grams (1 cup) white rice flour
140 grams (1 cup) fine cornmeal
3 tablespoons melted vegan butter
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup (250 ml) soy milk, plus 5 tablespoons
80 grams tofu, crumbled
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180º. Oil 6 muffins cups or a 6 muffin pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.
3. In the bowl of a food processor, add the crumbled tofu and 5 tablespoons of soy milk. Process until smooth and transfer the mixture to another bowl.
4. Add the butter, soy milk, agave nectar, and the finely cut broccoli to the tofu mixture. Mix well to incorporate.
5. Slowly fold the wet ingredients over the dry, being careful not to overmix. The batter will be thick, but that’s how it’s supposed to be.
6. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. When you’re done, insert one medium-sized broccoli floret in the center of each muffin (see pictures above).
7. Bake the muffins for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let them cool on the pan/cups for 10 minutes before unmolding and serving.
On sunday afternoons, I like to give myself plenty of time to do whatever I want. Usually, that involves napping right after lunch. But yesterday, after some failed attempts at napping, I’ve decided to go to the kitchen and focus on a culinary project, one that would take some time, to keep me occupied until dinner time. And so I’ve made a tart. A delicious one. Perhaps one of the best vegan tarts I’ve ever had. Usually, savory tarts call for buttery crusts and rich custards made out of eggs and cream, but this one, not having any of those ingredients, packed a lot of flavor and didn’t fall apart at all through slicing.
For some reason, I was never happy with my attempts at making tart crusts. Usually, they would shrink a lot and get soggy after being cooked, and also had a bland and not interesting flavor. But since I’ve tried the recipe for this pie crust , I’ve never gone back: the toasted oats and the addition of sesame oil really complement each other well and give such a dense and nutty flavor to the crust. The poppy seeds (which in the original recipe, by Peter Berley, are replaced by sesame seeds) contribute for the crunchiness.
As far as the custard goes, I’m sure no one would say it doesn’t have eggs or cream in it. First, it really firms up after cooking, and as I said, it keeps its structure beautifully through slicing. On the other hand, it’s just delicious on its own: using pureed tofu as the main component of a vegan custard was referred not only in Peter’s book, The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen , but also in Rose Elliot’s Vegan Feasts . So my version is a bit of a mix between the suggestions given by both books (and cooks).
The counterpart of all this, is that the tart will take some time to make. There are some ideas you can put in practice to save some time for the next time you want to make it, such as, for instance, doubling the recipe for the crust and make two instead of one tart shells. All you have to do is to roll the dough and freeze it in the tart pan for one hour or two, to keep its shape, after which you can take out the pan and leave the frozen crust on the freezer for up to a month. The filling could also be doubled and frozen too. Just don’t let yourelf down by the long preparation time and the extensive list of directions for this recipe. In the end, I’m sure you won’t regret.
Broccoli and Pine Nut Tart
(makes one, 20-22 cm tart)
For the tart crust:
½ cup (45 grams) rolled oats
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
¼ teaspoon table salt
1 cup (110 grams) whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup (80 ml) unsweetened soy milk
1/3 cup (80 ml) olive or sesame oil (I used the latter)
For the filling:
400 grams firm tofu
200 grams broccoli, chopped into tiny florets
2 medium-large white onions (280 grams), finely chopped
2 fat garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried chives
1/2 cup (125 ml) light stock
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon mugi miso
60 grams pine nuts
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
2. Start with the tart crust: Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the baking soda, salt and poppy seeds to the same bowl.
3. Heat a large pan over medium heat, add the oats and toast them for 6 to 8 minutes, or until fragant and slightly brown. Stir the oats as they toast to prevent them from burning.
4. Transfer the toasted oats to a food processor and process until finely ground. Add them to the bowl with the flour and the other dry ingredients.
5. Now, add the soy milk and olive oil to the dry ingredients and mix until a dough comes together.
6. Lightly brush a 20-22 cm tart pan with olive oil. Roll ou the dough in between two sheets of parchment paper, just thin enough to fit the pan. Press the pastry down into the pan and trim the edges. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
7. To make the filling, heat a large sautee pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, minced garlic and onion, and cook for 10 minutes or until the onion is golden brown. Then, add the dried herbs (thyme, oregano and chives), and the stock, and cook, uncovered, for at least 10 to 15 minutes, or until the liquid has almost all evaporated.
8. Crumble the tofu into the bowl of a food processor. Add the onion mixture, vinegar, and miso, and puree until smooth.
9. Heat a pan over medium-high heat, add the pine nuts, and toast them for 5 minutes or until they’re slightly brown. Give the pan a good shake every minute or so, to evenly toast the nuts.
10. In a medium sauce pan over high heat, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Then add the broccoli florets, and cook for no longer than 1 minute. Drain and wash the broccoli under running cold water, to stop cooking. Drain again, and set aside.
11. Mix the broccoli and pine nuts with the rest of the filling.
12. Fill the tart shell with the tofu and vegetable mixture, and level the top with the help of a rubber spatula. Place the tart into the preheated oven and cook for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the tart has firmed up and is golden brown.
13. Let the tart cool on the pan for at least 15 minutes before slicing. The tart is good eaten lukewarm or at room temperature.
recipe inspired by The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, by Peter Berley