Vegan breakfast casserole for Christmas brunch
Every year I make a casserole that combines eggs, cottage cheese, potatoes, peppers, onions, jalapenos, ham or bacon and cheddar cheese. This year a friend is coming who is vegan. I would like to make a similar one for her but don't know what to use to replace the eggs and the cheeses. I know that I can find replacements for the meat. Any ideas will be greatly appreciated. TIA
You are so kind to make something for your vegan friend! I would either use a tofu scramble or tofu omelette recipe to sub for eggs, depending on how your casserole is put together. Here are some recipes for you:
Tofu scramble: http://www.theppk.com/2009/10/tof-u-and-tof-me-scrambled-tofu-revisited/
Tofu omelette: http://www.theppk.com/2010/07/tofu-om...
As for cheese - there are several good subs on the market, such as Daiya (available grated or in wedges) or We Can't Say It's Cheese (dips/spreads). Both are available at places like Whole Foods or your local natural grocery/co-op. If those options are unavailable or too pricey, nutritional yeast can offer a savory, cheesy flavor as a topping.
I would go with the non-silken kind of tofu and do a sort of a scramble, because silken tends to turn to mush with lots of cooking and mixing but won't ever set up like eggs/quiche. Poaching the firm or extra firm tofu a bit first will give it a texture very similar to scrambled eggs and the poaching is an opportunity to add extra flavor. To make the tofu less bland, you could go kind of tex-mex and add some salsa or enchilada sauce, chile powder and cumin, or go a little Indian with curry powder, tomato and cilantro, or just poach it in vegetable stock and flavor with salt, pepper and some dill, thyme or other herbs when you toss it with your sauteed ingredients. Tofu also takes really well to flavoring with miso. I sometimes use a packet of Edward & Son's instant miso to perk up a tofu scramble. It's available at Whole Foods and most health food stores and has a more "western" and easily combinable flavor than straight miso because it has dehydrated onions and carrots in it. (Get the kind in the brown packet, the green packet kind probably tastes too seaweed-y for this purpose).
Conventionally, nutritional yeast is added in vegan recipes to give a cheesy taste, but I think your casserole would probably work fine without it.
Another thought might be to do something with legumes tempeh, butternut squash, or some kind of whole grain and nuts along with your other ingredients. It won't be as much like the original dish you're serving everybody else, but when I was vegan, everybody always served me tofu, and I was always very happy and grateful when someone made the effort to do anything else.
You already have some great answers. This recipe might also help.
It is quite close to what you usually make.
Aside from the cottage cheese you can replace everything else with the vegan version. Cheese, ham....
If you live in a small town it will be harder to find but any major city has a good option of health food stores or whole foods.
These mock products are usually easy to find.
For sure avoid silken tofu. Silken tofu is something that I would only use to for smoothies or baking.
Firm tofu is best. In order to make it look like eggs a bit, you can add a bit of turmeric.
Use about half a teaspoon or so for a block of tofu. Too much Turmeric can alter the taste but a little bit gives it a nice colour and taste.
I would try to avoid doing something too literal (replacing all the ingredients in your normal casserole with vegan versions). This may work, but will end up having a lot of "fake" things in it.
That said, chopped tempeh bacon (but not other types of fake meat), sautéd marinated tofu, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and potatoes (or tater tots if you want to be a little trashy) are some things I'd like to see in a breakfast casserole. If you can find the *yellow* type of garlic chives (a little milder than the other types you usually find), available at some Chinese markets, I think they add a nice "eggy" flavor to food.
Tofu by itself can be a little bland in "scrambles" etc., so I would use a lot of seasoning. Some things I've done in the past are a soy sauce / mirin / nutritional yeast / mushroom type thing, or a curry / garam masala type thing, or a Jamaican "jerk" type thing -- come up with some kind of angle. One thing you can do is to freeze it, then thaw it, squeeze out the excess moisture, and then cook with it as normal. It has a chewier texture this way, and absorbs flavors more evenly and readily. This is great for stews and other things where the tofu soaks up the sauce, but I think works especially well for breakfast type things. Or you can use frozen or dried / rehydrated tofu "skin" (also available at Asian markets), chopped into strips, which I think has a nice eggy texture.
Steer away from commercial fake cheeses. Instead, either make a raw cashew or roux based vegan "cheese" to pour over the top (texture will be better if it's not something that has to "melt"), or make a savory vegetarian gravy instead of cheese.
Lastly, you could skip the casserole entirely, and make some vegan muffins or a coffee cake (or coffee cake muffins). People are especially intimidated by vegan baking, and so vegans almost never get sweets or baked goods, especially at breakfast time. If your vegan likes this kind of food, they will almost certainly be impressed and happy with something along these lines.