Vegan Brunch Burritos With Basil Gravy

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People often ask me, “How do you come up with recipes?” To which I reply, “I meditate while holding onto a fork and a spoon and they just come to me.”

If only…

But, on rare occasion, it kind of actually does happen like this. You see, every now and then an idea will just pop into my mind that seems so perfectly formed and destined to be that I’m compelled to do something with it. One such example of this appears as an element in the recipe I’m about to share with y’all.

The other day I was reading a book (for school) about this guy who was a park ranger in Arches National Park. As he delved deep into describing the landscape and the plant life of the area, speaking nothing of food, a most random idea popped into my head: basil gravy. I set my book down to ponder for a moment this idea which was either absolute nonsense or a stroke of genius. Believing it to be the latter, I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and I scribbled down a quick recipe for basil gravy -aka white or cream gravy with a lot of basil and a little bit of garlic in it. A couple days later I made the idea of basil gravy into a reality and my-oh-my what a damn good reality it was.

When I added the basil gravy to tofu scramble, roasted potatoes and onions, some vegan “cheese,” and then wrapped it all up in a burrito it was absolute perfection. Seriously the best breakfast burrito I’ve ever had but to call it a breakfast burrito just seemed so… inappropriate. It was so much more than just a breakfast burrito. The basil gravy had kind of elevated everything. It needed a new descriptor and so it became the brunch burrito.

It all gets started with the making of some burrito filling elements: potatoes and onions, and tofu scramble. 3 russet potatoes and 1/4 of a white onion get diced up and tossed into a pan with a little oil. In another pan, some oil and a block of firm or extra firm tofu (that’s been drained and had it’s excess liquid squished out) get combined with low-sodium vegetable broth and seasonings.

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The potatoes and onions will cook for a total of 28 minutes, over medium heat, with you stirring them every 7 minutes. The tofu scramble will cook for 14 minutes, over medium-high heat, and then for 7 minutes, over low-medium heat, with you stirring it every now and then.

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When done, the potatoes and onions will be crunchy and deeply browned to the point that they might almost appear burnt in some spots -which is perfect. The tofu scramble will be fluffy and golden brown. Set each of these aside for a moment while we warm the tortillas and make the basil gravy.

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For these burritos, I wanted them to be big and beautiful so I used tortillas that measured 1′ in diameter. The larger size makes them not only impressive (and filling) when done but also easier to fill when you’re assembling them. To get the tortillas ready for our fillings we will need to warm them. You can do this by either placing them in the microwave for a couple seconds or you can wrap them in foil and place them into a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.

While the tortillas are getting warmed up, grab a big generous handful of fresh basil and pop that into a blender with a clove of garlic, a nice pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, and some almond milk. Blend until smooth then set aside for a moment.

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In a small pot over medium heat, melt some “butter.” Add in an equal part all purpose flour then stir and cook the mixture until lightly golden and foamy. Pour in the basil mixture you made a moment ago, turn the heat up a little, and whisk until thickened. This should only take about a minute and then you’ll have basil gravy.

Quick note about the thickness of the basil gravy: Because we are putting this gravy inside of a burrito, and don’t want it to drip out or sink to the bottom, I’ve elected to make it pretty thick. Should you want to use this gravy in another recipe, I’d recommend adding more almond milk until you reach the desired consistency for the dish you’re using it with.

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To assemble the burritos, grab a warmed tortilla and smear a nice amount of basil gravy in the center. (It’s hard to tell from the photos but my smear of basil gravy is about 3 inches by 5 inches.) Sprinkle on some “mozzarella” shreds as well as some “cheddar” shreds then add on an even layer of the potatoes and onions. Top the potatoes and onions with an even layer of tofu scramble and then finish the layers off with some more “cheese” and basil gravy. Close up the burrito and then enjoy!

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Vegan Brunch Burritos With Basil Gravy

  • Servings: 4 large burritos
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

    For the potatoes:
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3 medium size russet potatoes, washed and small diced
  • 1/4 of a white onion, small diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • For the tofu scramble:
  • 1 (14-ounce) package firm or extra firm tofu, drained and pressed to remove excess liquid
  • 2/3 cup low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Oil for pan
  • For the basil gravy:
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • Generous handful of fresh basil
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 1/2 stick vegan “butter”
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • For building the burritos:
  • 4 (12″ diameter) tortillas
  • Daiya “Mozzarella” shreds
  • Daiya “Cheddar” shreds

Directions

  1. Small dice the potatoes and onions if you haven’t already done so. Drain and press the tofu if you haven’t already done so. For the potatoes: Pour oil into a pan over medium heat. Add potatoes, onions, salt, and pepper, and cook for 28 minutes, stirring every 7 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking, get the tofu scramble cooking as well. For the tofu scramble: In another pan over medium-high heat, combine tofu with vegetable broth, seasonings, and a drizzle of oil, and cook for 14 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 14 minutes, turn the heat down to low-medium and cook for a final 7 minutes. When both the potatoes and tofu scramble are done set each aside for a moment.
  2. Warm the tortillas by either placing them in the microwave for a couple seconds or by wrapping them in foil and baking them at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. While the tortillas are warming up, make the basil gravy. For the basil gravy: In a blender combine almond milk, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper, and blend until smooth. Set this mixture aside for a moment. In a small pot over medium heat, melt the vegan “butter.” Once melted, add in the flour and stir. Cook the “butter” and flour until lightly golden and foamy. Pour in the basil mixture you made a moment ago, bring the mixture to a boil, and whisk until thickened. This should only take about a minute.
  3. To assemble the burritos, grab tortilla and smear a nice amount of basil gravy in the center. Sprinkle on some “mozzarella” shreds as well as some “cheddar” shreds then add on an even layer of the potatoes. Top the potato layer with an equal layer of tofu scramble. Top it all off with another sprinkle “mozzarella,” “cheddar,” and some more basil gravy. Close up the burrito and enjoy!

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Vegan “Cheesy” Black Bean Tofu Scramble

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I’M BACK!!!

(Cue the hysterical screaming!)

I have had quite the little break. If you recall, this whole time away thing started because my doctor put me on a really strict diet for weight loss in an attempt to get my chronic illnesses (mostly female-related issues) under control. Well, as it turned out, that really strict diet was basically controlled starvation and, just so we’re clear, my doctor told me upfront that it would be a challenging diet for a vegan to follow but asked me to give it a try -and try I did. I gave it almost 2 weeks of honest effort but, at that point, I just couldn’t keep up with it any longer so I made an appointment with a vegan nutritionist to remedy the diet to better suit a vegan. Ever since then, I’ve been able to maintain my diet, without starving, and have lost nearly 10 lbs., 4 inches off my hips, and 5 inches off my waistline! And now I’m back in the hot seat and ready to share some new recipes with y’all!

This weeks recipe is a classic vegan breakfast (tofu scramble) made “cheesy.” And black bean-y. (But mostly “cheesy.”) You can find basic tofu scramble recipes all over teh interwebs, and loads of recipes which jazz up said basic recipe too, but I hadn’t come across any like this so I think I’m actually filling 2 voids with this recipe -the 1st void being your empty stomach. #YoureWelcome

It all starts with the star of the show: tofu (although some might argue that the “cheese” is the true star but play along with me here). When it comes to making almost anything with tofu, you must drain and press out as much water from the tofu as you can. Why? Because if you don’t then whatever flavors you’re adding to your tofu won’t really get into the tofu. When people tell me that they didn’t enjoy tofu, I ask if they drained it and pressed out the water before they used it. Their answer 9 times out of 10 is, “No… is that something you’re supposed to do?” Yes, people, this is something that you’re supposed to do if you want your food to come out tasty and also not watery.

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Once you’ve drained and pressed your tofu, it’s time to get cookin’. In a pan over low-med. heat, with a little oil in it to help prevent sticking, you’re going to combine your tofu with the seasonings and the vegetable broth. Stirring occasionally, cook for 10 minutes.

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After 10 minutes has passed, it’s time to add it the black beans (a whole can of ’em) and a little onion. Give that a good stir to combine then continue to cook the mixture for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If your tofu is sticking a little feel free to add a little more oil to the pan.

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Now would be a good time to prep the spinach which will be added in a moment. All you need to do is wash it and then tear the pieces into smaller pieces making sure to toss any bothersome stems. I used baby spinach because that’s what was in my fridge but if you have… grownup? Adult? Big spinach? Whatever. You can use that. Or kale would work too. And fresh either way -frozen just can’t compare in this particular dish.

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When your timer dings, it’s spinach time. Add those little pieces of green goodness right on in there and then get excited because it’s time to get your “cheese” on!

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Top the spinach off with about a generous cup of your favorite vegan “cheddar cheese” shreds along with a splash of water. Pop a lid on your pan and cook for just 5 minutes more or until spinach is wilted and the “cheese” is gooey.

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Serve with a side of fresh fruit, potatoes, or toast, or stuff the mixture into a burrito with a little hot sauce or salsa for breakfast to-go! Either way, enjoy the “cheesy” goodness!

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Vegan 'Cheesy' Black Bean Tofu Scramble

  • Servings: 4
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tablespoons oil + more if needed to prevent sticking as tofu cooks
  • 1 (14 ounce) package of firm tofu, drained and pressed to remove excess water
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (15 ounce) can of low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 of an onion, finely diced
  • 1-2 cups of fresh spinach, torn into smaller pieces and stems removed
  • 1 generous cup of your favorite vegan “cheddar cheese” shreds
  • water

Directions

  1. In a pan over low-med. heat combine oil, drained and pressed tofu, vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, salt, black pepper, paprika, turmeric, cumin, and garlic powder together. Stir and then cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
  2. After 10 minutes, add in the drained and rinsed black beans and the finely diced onion. Stir to combine then cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a little more oil as needed should your tofu be sticking.
  3. Prep spinach if you haven’t done so already then add it and the “cheese” to the mixture along with just a splash of water. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until spinach is wilted and “cheese” is gooey. Stir before serving. Will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up 4 days.

Vegan Tomato Tart

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I love my best friend, Angel. She’s the bestest best friend a girl could ask for! We’ve known each other for (I think) nearly 15 years and if there is one thing that I have learned about her in those 15 years it’s that she loves food. Any food.

Now this is both a good thing and a bad thing though. It’s a good thing because it means that she will eat whatever I make for her (and her hubby and baby boy). I always get to test out new recipes and she gets free, yummy vegan food -most of the time. That’s where this can be a bad thing. I’m not a professional chef or culinary wiz by no means so there are times when, despite my best efforts, something just doesn’t turn out as I had hoped it would. But there’s my soul sister, eating it anyways. I’ll critic my work with every bite but she doesn’t say a peep. When I mention how I can make it better next time she often lovingly says that it was great this time. (Did I mention that I love her??)

One such occasion where we didn’t agree on how a recipe turned out was when I made my very first tomato tart. It looked amazing but it was troublesome to eat and missing something. I rattled off the changes I wanted to make to the recipe and what did my best friend do? She asked me for the recipe. As it was. Well me being the perfectionist that I am, I straight up refused to give it to her. Instead I said that when I had finished tweaking it I would then, and only then, share it with her -and all of you. Fast forward a few months later, to today, and I am proud to say that my tomato tart recipe has been perfected and is finally ready to share.

This one’s for you, Angel! #LoveYou

This easy to make tart is a thing of beauty and I’ve definitely improved on its eatability and flavor. The sweet little cherry tomatoes which have been cooked down in a balsamic vinegar reduction are everything -they are bursting with flavor. Below them there is a creamy, garlic-flavored tofu cream and below that is light and crispy puff pastry. Top it all of with some fresh basil and this recipe is perfect for a light lunch or dinner, or as an appetizer at your next get-together.

The first thing that we need to do is prepare some egg substitute for use a little later. I used Ener-G egg substitute and I prepared it in accordance with the instructions on the box for 1 egg. Set this mixture aside until it’s needed.

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Next, the creamy tofu filling needs to be made by first draining and pressing some firm tofu. Put the tofu in a blender and add in almond milk, lemon juice, a whole bunch of garlic, a little onion powder, salt, and some sugar. Blend until perfectly smooth then set aside for a moment until we need it.

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Okay, now for the puff pastry portion -say that 10 times fast! For this recipe you will need 1 sheet of puff pastry that you’ve thawed according to the instructions on the packaging. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut a 1/2 inch wide strip off of the left side and the right side of the pastry sheet. Now cut 1/2 inch wide strips from both the top and the bottom of the pastry sheet.

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Grab your egg substitute and, using your finger or a small pastry brush, paint on a 1/2 inch wide strip of egg substitute onto the bottom edge of the final pastry square. Once you’ve got a strip of egg substitute on the edge, place the bottom strip of puff pastry that you cut off over top of the egg substitute to create the bottom side of what will be a frame of puff pastry. Repeat the egg substitute and puff pastry strip application on the opposite side of the pastry square.

With the top and bottom of the frame done now we must put on the sides. Before you “glue down” the left and right sides of our puff pastry strips with egg substitute, trim the length of the strips down to fit between the top and bottom puff pastry strips without overlap. Once all of the puff pastry frames edges have been attached with egg substitute, carefully transfer the whole thing to a parchment-lined sheet pan.

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Pour the creamy tofu goodness that we made earlier in the center of your puff pastry frame then carefully spread it out into an even layer. Try not to get it onto the frame itself but if some does accidentally spill over just push it back towards the the center of the pastry square.

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Get that into your preheated oven and bake it off until the puff pastry is golden brown and the tofu cream has set. While that’s baking, we will need to make the tomato mixture that will top off the tart after it comes out of the oven and we will also need to cut up some fresh basil.

For the tomato mixture, halve a generous cup of cherry (aka cherub) tomatoes. Put them into a pan with a little balsamic vinegar and cook them over low-med. heat for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes have become soft and darker in color, and the balsamic vinegar has reduced to a thicker consistency.

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Once the puff pastry and tofu cream are done in the oven, it’s time to add the tomato mixture to our tart to transform it into the hella good tomato tart it was destined to be.

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As you can see, I just use a spoon to get the tomato mixture onto the tart. After all of the tomatoes are on there I then use the back of the spoon to gently press the tomatoes down a little which helps them fill out the tart a little better.

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Add the fresh basil and enjoy!

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Vegan Tomato Tart

  • Servings: 3-4 as a light lunch or dinner, 4-9 as an appetizer
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Egg substitute for 1 egg (I used Ener-G -it’s my favorite!)
  • Flour for cutting board or pastry board
  • 1 sheet of vegan puff pastry, thawed according to directions on packaging (Pepperidge Farm puff pastry is vegan!)
  • 7 ounces of firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 generous cup of cherry (aka cherub) tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh basil, finely chopped or cut into little ribbons (chiffonade)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper. In a small dish, prepare egg substitute for 1 egg according to package instructions. Set aside.
  2. Put the drained and pressed tofu into a blender and add in the almond milk, lemon juice, whole garlic cloves, onion powder, salt, and sugar. Blend until perfectly smooth then set aside.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, lay out the puff pastry sheet. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut a 1/2 inch wide strip off of the left side and the right side of the puff pastry sheet. Now cut 1/2 inch wide strips from both the top and the bottom of the puff pastry sheet.
  4. Using your finger or a small pastry brush, paint on a 1/2 inch wide strip of egg substitute onto the bottom edge of the final puff pastry square. Place the bottom strip of puff pastry that you cut off over top of the egg substitute to create the bottom side of what will be a frame of puff pastry. Repeat the egg substitute and puff pastry strip application on the opposite side of the puff pastry square. With the top and bottom of the frame done now put on the sides but before you “glue down” the left and right strips of puff pastry with egg substitute, trim the length of the strips down to fit between the top and bottom puff pastry strips without overlap. Once all of the puff pastry frames edges have been attached with egg substitute, carefully transfer the whole thing to a parchment-lined sheet pan.
  5. Pour the tofu mixture in the center of the puff pastry frame then carefully spread it out into an even layer. Try not to get it onto the frame itself but if some does accidentally spill over just push it back towards the the center of the puff pastry square. Bake for 35 minutes.
  6. While the puff pastry and tofu cream are baking, make the tomato mixture that will top off the tart after it comes out of the oven. Cut each tomato in half. Put halved tomatoes into a shallow pan with the balsamic vinegar. Cook uncovered over low-med. heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes have become soft and darker in color, and the balsamic vinegar has reduced to a thicker consistency. Set aside until tart is out of the oven.
  7. After 35 minutes is up, remove tart from oven and top with the tomato mixture. Use the back of a spoon to gently press over top of the tomato mixture to help it fill out the tart a little better. Finish with fresh basil and enjoy! Will keep in an airtight container in fridge for 1-2 days but is better when served and eaten immediately.