Vegan Wonder

Crack the Code: Delicious Plant-Based Egg Alternatives for Savory Dishes

With the rise of plant-based diets, there’s an increasing demand for delicious, egg-free alternatives to our favorite savory dishes. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or just looking to cut down on eggs for health reasons, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and techniques to create satisfying, egg-free savory dishes that will delight your taste buds.

Why Ditch Eggs?

Eggs are a nutritious food, but they’re not always the best option for savory plant-based cooking. Eggs are high in cholesterol, which can be problematic for people with high blood cholesterol levels. They’re also not typically fortified with the essential vitamins and minerals that plant-based eaters need to consume through other sources. Plus, the environmental impact of eggs, particularly from chickens raised in intensive farming conditions, is significant.

Luckily, there are plenty of plant-based alternatives to eggs that can be used in savory dishes, offering similar cooking properties while providing unique health benefits and a more sustainable food source.

Tofu: The Versatile Egg Substitute

Tofu is one of the most popular and versatile egg alternatives. It’s high in protein and can absorb flavors well, making it a great option for savory dishes. When using tofu as an egg substitute, it’s important to drain it properly and press out excess water to achieve the desired texture.

To make a tofu scramble, crumble the tofu into small pieces with a fork, then cook it in a pan with some oil, turmeric, salt, and any additional spices or ingredients you like, such as nutritional yeast, onion, garlic, bell peppers, and spinach. Tofu can also be used in quiches, frittatas, and as a filling for savory pastries.

Aquafaba: The Magical Egg Replacer

Aquafaba, the liquid from a can of chickpeas, has gained popularity in recent years as a vegan egg substitute. When whipped, aquafaba can take on the texture of egg whites, making it an excellent choice for making omelets, frittatas, and even meringues. It can also be used in baking to replace eggs as a binding agent.

Chickpea Flour: The Egg-Free Binder

Chickpea flour, also known as besan or gram flour, is a staple in Indian and Mediterranean cooking. It’s high in protein, fiber, and various micronutrients. When combined with water and heated, chickpea flour transforms into a thick, crepe-like batter that can bind ingredients together in the absence of eggs.

To make an egg-free quiche or savory tart, mix together chickpea flour, water, salt, pepper, and any additional seasonings or ingredients you like, such as nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, and herbs. Cook the batter on the stovetop until it thickens, then transfer it to a pie crust and bake as you would with a traditional quiche base.

Chickpea flour can also be used to make savory pancakes or crepes by following a similar process, but using less water to achieve a thinner batter. Allow the batter to rest for at least 30 minutes before cooking to allow the chickpea flour to absorb the water and soften.

Flax and Chia Seeds: The Egg-Replacing Superstars

Both flax seeds and chia seeds contain mucilage, a natural substance that becomes gelatinous when mixed with water. This property makes them excellent binders and thickeners, making them a popular choice for vegan baking.

To use flax or chia seeds as an egg substitute, simply mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds or chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and let it sit for a few minutes until it forms a gelatinous mixture. This mixture is known as a “flax egg” or “chia egg.” Use it as a 1:1 replacement for eggs in recipes, such as savory breakfast bakes, casseroles, or pancakes.

Nutritional Yeast: The Savory Egg Enhancer

Nutritional yeast, often simply called “nooch,” is a deactivated yeast that’s high in protein, fiber, and B vitamins. It has a savory, umami flavor that makes it a popular ingredient in plant-based cooking, particularly as a cheese substitute. It also pairs well with dishes that would normally include eggs.

To incorporate nutritional yeast into savory dishes that would typically include eggs, simply sprinkle it on top as a garnish or mix it in with the ingredients. For example, you can add it to tofu scrambles, frittatas, or omelets made with aquafaba.

Putting It All Together: Delectable Plant-Based Savory Dishes

Now that you know about these fantastic plant-based egg alternatives, it’s time to get creative in the kitchen! Here are some recipes to get you started:

  • Try making an Aquafaba Frittata by whipping up some aquafaba, adding salt, pepper, and any desired herbs or spices, pouring it into a cast-iron skillet with oil, cooking until set, then adding veggies and cheese (if desired) and finishing under the broiler.
  • Make a Chickpea Flour Quiche by preparing a savory chickpea flour batter, baking it in a pie crust, then adding in cooked veggies and cheese (if desired) and baking until set.
  • Create a Flax and Oat Breakfast Bake by mixing oats, flax seeds, plant-based milk, salt, pepper, turmeric, garlic powder, onion powder, and any desired herbs or veggies, baking until set and golden brown.
  • Experiment with making a Vegan Eggs Benedict by poaching tofu or chickpea cutlets, making a hollandaise sauce (or using store-bought vegan hollandaise) with nutritional yeast, and serving over an English muffin with spinach and tomato.

Happy cooking!