Today, I’m sharing a recipe for a family-friendly vegan version of the Mexican classic ‘Huevos Rancheros’. The eggs have been replaced with golden cubes of pan-fried tofu which sit on a bed of rich, flavourful tomato sauce. I’ve toned down the chilli to make the dish kid-friendly (and ‘Sharon-friendly’ as I’m a complete heat wimp) but of course, feel free to crank up the chilli heat as high as you wish.
The inspiration for this recipe was the cover photo on the September issue of Vegan Life magazine. At first glance, Lucien and I were instantly attracted to this dish but, when we read that the recipe contained half a cup of green chillies plus three tablespoons of chilli powder, we knew it was going to be way too spicy for us. It didn’t deter me from giving it a try though, and I simply omitted the chillies to make it less spicy. Since the tomatoes, onions and garlic are roasted, they make the sauce rich and flavourful, so we really didn’t miss the chilli.
I first experimented with this recipe a few weeks ago and it was an instant hit with the family. We rarely eat the same meal twice in the same month, but we’ve made this one three times already! It’s quickly become a family favourite.
It’s really easy to make and takes only 30 minutes hands-on time. While the tomatoes, onions and garlic are roasting in the oven, I pan-fry the tofu.
As I mentioned in a recent post, these days I tend to pan fry my tofu in long rectangles then cut it into cubes afterwards. I find it’s far easier and quicker to flip 8-10 rectangles than a panful of cubes.
Once the tofu is cooked, I tip it onto a baking tray and place it at the bottom of the oven to keep warm. I then pour the sieved tomato juice into the frying pan, along with the lime juice and sugar and gently heat it through. Once the tomato/onion/garlic mixture is roasted, I add it to the pan and stir through to combine. And that’s it! The ranchero is now ready to plate up and serve.
This family-friendly vegan ranchero is a versatile dish and can be served for breakfast, brunch or dinner. We’ve been serving it as our main evening meal, with side servings of salad leaves, mayo and corn tortilla wraps. Any leftovers make a tasty addition to next day’s lunchboxes, stuffed into a wrap or pitta.
Hands on time: 30 minutes Ready in: 75 minutes (includes 30 minutes pressing time for the tofu)
1 block of firm tofu (about 400g / 14 oz)
1 TBSP organic rapeseed (canola) oil, or other neutral-tasting oil
½ tsp garlic granules
2 x 400g / 14 oz cans organic chopped tomatoes
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
chilli powder, to taste (I use 1 tsp mild chilli powder) [if serving to children, see Note 2]
½ tsp salt
1 TBSP lime juice
½ TBSP unrefined sugar
1 avocado, diced
mixed salad leaves
vegan mayonnaise (I used Vegenaise)
8 corn tortilla wraps, warmed
1. First, press the tofu for 30 minutes [See Note 1]
2. Pre-heat the oven to 220C (200C fan) / 425 F. Line a rimmed baking tray with baking paper.
3. Drain the tomatoes in a fine mesh sieve over a bowl, pressing to extract as much juice as possible (reserve the juice).
4. Tip the drained tomatoes into a second bowl. Add the onion, garlic, olive oil, chilli powder and salt. Stir through to combine. Transfer to the prepared baking tray and spread in an even layer to the edges of the tray. Place on the centre rack of the oven and roast for 30 minutes, stirring and redistributing into an even layer half way through the cooking time.
5. Once pressed, slice the tofu into 8 or 10 long rectangles. Heat 1 TBSP oil in a large non-stick frying pan (skillet) on medium-high heat. Add the tofu and flip it over, so that both sides are coated in oil. Sprinkle the garlic granules and a pinch of salt over the tofu. Leave to cook until golden brown on the underside, then flip over and cook until browned on the second side. Slice into cubes then transfer to a baking tray and place on the bottom rack of the oven to keep warm.
6. Pour the strained tomato juice into the frying pan, along with the lime juice and sugar. Heat on low heat and bring to a gentle simmer. When the tomato mixture is roasted, tip it into the frying pan and stir through to combine. Taste test and adjust the seasoning to suit.
7. Turn off the oven and add the tortilla wraps for 30 seconds or so to warm through.
8. Spoon the tomato mixture onto plates and arrange the tofu cubes and diced avocado on top. Add a side helping of mixed salad leaves, vegan mayonnaise and a couple of warmed tortillas, then serve. Any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for three days.
Note 1: Pressing tofu: Here’s my preferred way to do it (since I don’t have a tofu press): Slice the block of tofu through the middle into two equal halves. Place the tofu on a rimmed baking tray. Place a chopping board on top of the tofu, followed by a heavy object to weigh it down. The water collects in a pool round the tofu. After 30 minutes, drain off the liquid. Give the tofu a pat with kitchen paper to soak up any residual liquid, then it’s good to go.
Note 2: If serving to children, use ½ tsp mild chilli powder or omit the chilli until step 6, then you can remove their portion before adding the chilli to the pan.