A friend challenged me the other week, “veganize the breakfast sandwich.”
This was the veganization of the unveganizable.
Eggs. Cheese. Bacon. They said it couldn’t be done.
But we vegans are not to be deterred, are we?
For the non-vegan out there who wonder, “what does a vegan breakfast look like,” we are going to have something to SHOW them!
How To Veganize: Brainstorming
I love a good vegan challenge. After nearly 10 years of eating vegan, I know my vegan resources for creating “imitation” meals.
The wheels immediately started turning:
- Must be easy
- Must be greasy
- Might have to include packaged stuff like cheese and bacon so it comes together fast
- Scramble up tofu, add egg salt and fry?
- What would imitate the yolk texture? Mashed up chickpeas?
- Liquid smoke tempeh for bacon as alternative to store-bought? Could do coconut bacon.
- No way to do quick homemade cheese but could in theory skip it or make a cashew sauce?
- English muffins have to be vegan too
This was going to be fun. Let’s break it down.
Bear with me. I’m going to talk about egg and cheese sandwiches from my perspective when I ate things like that (almost 10 years ago…). My strong stances remain and will now be applied to the vegan version.
Some people are flexible about how they take their egg and cheese. They might put it on an english muffin, a bagel… heck, even plain old toast!
The fact is, there is only one way to eat an egg and cheese sandwich and that is on an english muffin.
I grew up with Tomas’s english muffins. Alas, these are not vegan because they contain milk. (I doubt the muffins you get from NYC food carts are vegan either.)
When I encounter something like this (it happens with burger buns too), I turn to my natural grocer. Here are some brands that have vegan english muffins: Sprouts Brand english muffins, Rudi’s and Ezekiel. Your local natural grocer chains might have their own brand vegan english muffins as well.
Of course, if you’re a badass (and not hungover), you could make your own. I’ve made Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s before and they were indeed yum! They’re in her book Vegan Brunch.
No, veganizing the cheese is not as easy as veganizing the english muffin. Except that it sort of is because you are just going to buy the packaged version of vegan cheese.
I’m not going to take you through making your own delicious homemade vegan cheese here. That is decidedly NOT what an egg and cheese sandwich is. This is a sandwich for the lazy and the hungry, not the ambitious.
I can’t say I have much expertise in this area because I typically don’t buy packaged vegan cheeses. I ended up using Follow Your Heart Provolone only because that’s what my local store had.
This cheese worked out well in the sense that it melted. However, it didn’t have a strong enough flavor for a breakfast sandwich. That’s probably because it was in the flavor of provolone. Maybe cheddar would have been better?
If you want a homemade option, I would recommend making a cashew sauce. Or you could buy a vegan cheese book and really start experimenting.
If you are a person who enjoys some bacon on your egg and cheese, you have vegan options.
In the spirit of laziness, I went with packaged stuff for this sandwich. I used Sweet Earth’s Hickory and Sage Benevolent Bacon and really liked it. Some other options are: Tofurky Tempeh Bacon and Upton Naturals Seitan Bacon.
For those of you who want to make up your own vegan bacon, you can use tempeh or coconut to make some bacon. (I’m sure those foods were never uttered in the same sentence before.) I won’t go into detail here but – Tempeh is a good bacon sub because it’s so hearty. Add liquid smoke and you are good to go! I learned about baconizing coconut from Terry Hope Romero (along with a billion other vegan tips). Try it out!
And finally, we arrive at the heart of the sandwich.
I have made a Tofu Benedict before. It relied on marinated tofu cut into a circle. It worked well but this is not what I was going for here.
This needed to be a greasy, fried, thinner deal. We needed an omelet situation but made from a vegan source.
I still turned to tofu but this time I mixed it up. Literally.
I like the eggy flavor but you might not like it or you might be so vegan you don’t need it. I get it. Do what works for you.
I realized that Isa Chandra Moskowitz had an omelet recipe in her Vegan Brunch cookbook so I relied heavily on that for the white part of the egg, adjusting the proportions a bit.
I also decided to add in a vegan yolk because I thought it would be cute. And, frankly, it really was.
Unlike your typical yolk, I aimed to get the right texture prior to cooking. I didn’t attempt to create a yolk texture that was gooey precooked and then transformed to hard while it cooked. So, chickpeas was my go-to here.
Of course, you can skip the yolk if you want – just add more black salt to the whites so you don’t lose out on the eggy salt flavor. Also, add turmeric to the whites for the eggy color, which is what I added to the chickpeas.
Cook It Up!
Is this not the most nostalgic frying you’ve ever seen?
Look at that adorable vegan egg!
If you don’t have a non-stick pan or a really well-seasoned pan, you are going to have to use a bunch of oil. For this reason, I omitted oil from the egg whites ingredients.
I spooned the tofu mixture into the pan to the size of “egg” I wanted and then dented in the middle a bit to place the “yolk”. The mixture sticks together really well and maintains its shape so you can make it as thick or thin as you like.
Everything else comes together easily while the tofu is cooking. I can’t believe how satisfying it was to have this sandwich. Now I just need a cart around the corner that makes them for me!
What Does A Vegan Breakfast Look Like?
I really love having this breakfast treat in my toolkit. Now I know that I can make up a batch of egg whites and yolks super easily and have a yummy, indulgent brunch.
If you’ve eaten vegan for a while or are just feeling like you want to take a walk down memory lane, whip up this scrumptious breakfast sandwich. It really nails it.
Recipe below – enjoy!
What do you think? Have you tried your hand at veganizing the breakfast sandwich before? If you try this recipe, share it! Comment below or tag Plenty Vegan on Instagram.
- 12 oz carton extra firm silken tofu
- 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp kala namak black salt
- 1 Tbsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch
- ¼ cup chickpea flour (optional but does make it fluffier)
- You could add 1 Tbsp oil to this list but you might end up using so much oil to prevent the "egg" from sticking if you use a non-stick pan so you might opt to omit it.
- ½ cup chickpeas
- ½ Tbsp white miso paste (substitute more water or some tahini if you don't have miso)
- water for consistency (~ ⅛ c)
- ½ tsp kala namak black salt
- ¼ tsp turmeric - enough for color only
- Purée all the vegan egg whites ingredients in a food processor. Taste for "egginess". Add more black salt if desired.
- Pulse all vegan egg yolk ingredients in a food processor, adding in water slowly, leaving bit of texture to the chickpeas. Think: egg yolk texture.
- Preheat a large frying pan on medium heat.
- After the pan is heated, add up to 2 tablespoons of oil if your pan is not non-stick or well-seasoned.
- Form 4 tablespoon size balls from the vegan egg yolk mixture.
- Spoon 4 servings worth of vegan egg yolks (~1/4-1/2 cup) into the heated oil, forming circular shapes. Place one "yolk" in the center of each "egg".
- Fry "eggs" for about 7 minutes or until the tofu mixture hardens a bit. You can check this by sliding your spatula under the tofu and seeing if it holds together, like when making pancakes. You might have to add more oil or tilt the pan to get more oil to flow under the tofu mixture to prevent sticking.
- Flip "eggs" and cook for about 5 minutes more on the other side.
- Add vegan bacon to this pan if there is room or sauté on another oiled pan until crispy.
- Meanwhile, place split english muffins with a slice of cheese on one side under the broiler or in a toaster oven to melt the cheese and toast the muffins.
- Once "eggs" are cooked, add them to the english muffins, top with bacon and ketchup and close up with the melted cheese muffin side.
WANT HELP GETTING STARTED?
Download a vegan grocery list for beginners.