Yes, it’s possible. That’s the good news. The even better news is that it’s easy, too. I’ve spent my share of long hours making complicated concotions to replicate Béarnaise, the sumptuous egg sauce that’s the crowning glory of Eggs Benedict. I puréed tofu and made vinegar reductions and hunted down unusual herbs and spices to lift the eggless and butterless sauce from dreary to divine. Needless to say, it fell far short of divinity. It hardly even got off the ground. And the piles of dishes I had to wash for this humble earthling!
It was by a happy accident that I found out about an easier way to make Béarnaise. Browsing epicurious, I stumbled on a recipe for mock Béarnaise. I had no idea there even was such a thing. I’m sure French chefs would shudder at it. But for those of us who can’t eat eggs or can’t expertly handle their delicate and finicky structure, the alternative is a heaven-sent.
Now, don’t get any ideas. The mock sauce, though utterly delicious, isn’t any healthier than the real thing. (Okay, maybe a bit: it has no cholesterol.) A generous amount of vegan mayonnaise is what gives it body and flavor. Trying to make it healthier takes the magic out of it. Believe me, I tried. I experimented with all the combinations of vegenaise and plain soy yogurt I could think of. My conclusion? Just give in. Accept that there’s sometimes a price to pay for feasting, and pay it gladly. This one is really, really worth it.
I have to confess that, marvelous as the sauce is, I’m just as excited about the tofu in this recipe. Yes, I’m one of those people; I get excited about tofu. But you have to understand: I’ve tried for a long time to cook tofu so that it has the right texture for Tofu Benedict. I wanted it to stay soft, to echo the tender firmness of cooked eggwhite. But I also wanted to give it some character and bite.
First discovery: medium tofu is best here because it’s creamy but not too delicate. To preserve its creaminess but also give it a light crust, I broiled it, first under low, then under high heat. That was my second breakthrough. It’s a little labor-intensive—or I should say, attention-intensive—but it pays off. For flavor, I sprinkled nutritional yeast over the hot tofu and drizzled it with lemon juice. Very simple, but very effective.
If you envy my husband for getting to eat Tofu Benedict for two weeks straight, you should. Being a taste-tester isn’t always fun for him. But I’m pretty sure this one makes up for all the weird experimental stuff I’ve served him before. Makes up for it, and then some—if I may say so myself.
|Tofu Benedict with Mock Béarnaise|
- 2/3 cup vegan mayonnaise*
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 3 TBSP. orange juice
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. dried tarragon (or 1 tsp. fresh tarragon, finely chopped)
- one 14 oz. package medium tofu**
- cooking spray
- 1/4-1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 TBSP. nutritional yeast
- juice from 2 lemon wedges
- 3 English muffins, halved
- 6 slices tomato
- 1 large avocado
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced
- TO MAKE THE MOCK BEARNAISE: In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, mustard, orange juice, vinegar, salt and tarragon. Set aside. You can make the sauce up to two days ahead and refrigerate it, tightly covered, until you’re ready to use it.
- TO MAKE THE TOFU: Remove the block of tofu from the package, rinse it and pat it dry. Cut it in three lengthwise, so that you end up with three thick squares. They will seem too thick, but don’t worry; the tofu will shrink as it cooks. Cut each square in two; you will end up with 6 large triangles of tofu.
- Spray the tofu triangles with cooking spray and season with salt on both sides. Place the tofu in a single layer inside a glass or ceramic baking dish.***
- Turn the broiler to the low setting, and move an oven shelf to about a hand’s height from the heating element. Put the baking dish with the tofu under the broiler for 7 minutes. Then turn the broiler to high and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Carefully remove the tofu from the oven and flip the triangles on the other side. Again, set the broiler to low, cook for 7 minutes, then set the broiler to high and cook for 3 minutes more. Take the tofu out of the oven.
- Sprinkle the nutritional yeast on one side only of the tofu triangles, then squeeze the juice from the lemon wedges over the nutritional yeast. Set aside.
- TO ASSEMBLE THE TOFU BENEDICT: Toast the English muffins. While they’re toasting, prepare the avocado: remove the seed, scoop it out of its peel, and thinly slice it.
- On each toasted muffin half, place a triangle of tofu, a tomato slice on top of the tofu, and finally 2-3 slices of avocado over the tomato. Drizzle about 2 TBSP. of mock béarnaise over the whole thing, then garnish with a few slices of green onion.
*If you absolutely must, you can substitute plain soy yogurt for some of the mayonnaise, but not more than 2 tablespoons, or the sauce will taste too sour.
**It’s essential that you use medium tofu. Don’t substitute firm or extra-firm for it.
***Don’t spray the tofu with cooking spray inside the glass baking dish, or the spray that lands directly on the glass will burn under the broiler. Also, I don’t recommend cooking the tofu on a baking sheet. If you line it with parchment paper, the paper burns really easily under the broiler. If you line it with aluminum foil, the cooking spray that ends up on the foil burns and smokes.
Nutritional Information: 6 servings. Per serving: 359 calories; 26.9 g fat; 710 mg sodium; 20.3 g carbs; 5 g dietary fiber; 5.3 g sugar; 10.5 g protein.
Posted Wednesday, February 15, 2012.