The more you cook with it, the more you realize: Tofu really is the great kitchen chameleon. It can stand on its own — and taste like itself — in a simple, sublime dish of chilled tofu with a spicy topping. Dusted with cornstarch, fried and coated in a peppery-sweet sauce, it can approximate mushrooms or even beef in a hot pot. Crumbled and mixed with chilies, vinegar, garlic and more, it becomes a ringer for fresh pork chorizo.
I had long been skeptical, though, of its ability to play the part of eggs — you know, in a "scramble." So I avoided those recipes.
I shouldn't have. A recipe in Andrew Weil's latest book, "Fast Food, Good Food," seemed worth trying, perhaps because he calls for the scramble to be combined with a fresh and chunky salsa, avocados and tortillas — one of my favorite ways to eat eggs. But there is more wisdom in this recipe: Turmeric adds an appealing golden color, offset by a little diced red bell pepper, and a combination of cumin and a little cayenne gives the scramble an earthy flavor. (The salsa can be made ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.)
And here's a hint from Weil, a physician and healthful-lifestyle coach. Let pressed garlic sit for at least 10 minutes before adding it to a dish. That allows allicin, the compound responsible for garlic's health benefits, to form.
As for the tofu scramble, I was right on one count: The texture didn't remind me of eggs (at least not properly cooked ones). But once I stopped thinking about it and let the tofu be tofu, I found it delicious.
TOFU SCRAMBLE WITH SALSA CRUDA
Makes 4 servings
For the salsa
1/2 cup tightly packed cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
For the tofu scramble
4 corn tortillas, for serving (optional)
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 small onion, diced
3 tablespoons diced red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, press and let sit for 10 minutes
16 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and crumbled into small pieces
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Flesh of 1 avocado, thinly sliced, for serving (optional)
To make the salsa, combine the cilantro, tomatoes, red bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno and lime juice in a medium bowl, stirring until thoroughly blended. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
If you plan to serve the tofu scramble with tortillas, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the tortillas on a baking sheet; bake for 5 minutes or just until warmed through. (Or, you can wrap the tortillas in a clean dish towel and microwave on low for 45 seconds.)
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the onion and diced red bell pepper; cook until the onion is starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in the pressed garlic; cook for 30 seconds, then add the crumbled tofu, turmeric, cumin, sea salt and cayenne pepper, stirring to distribute the spices; cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tofu is starting to brown.
Serve right away with the salsa and tortillas and avocado.
Nutrition information per serving: 190 calories, 11g protein, 10g carbohydrates, 12g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 550mg sodium, 2g dietary fiber, 3g sugar