When I went vegan, I assumed I would have trouble giving up eggs. Why? Because I used to eat eggs almost every day for breakfast! And shakshuka—eggs poached in a spiced tomato stew with chili peppers, onion, and garlic—was one of my favorites.
Luckily, the human body is a very adaptable thing, and within a week, I had zero cravings for eggs. But I still had the desire to recreate hearty, savory, and flavorful breakfast dishes like shakshuka. Hence this recipe for a plant-based shakshuka using tofu and white beans. Yes, that means double the protein.
I don’t think there’s an easy way to substitute poached eggs, but crumbled tofu does mimic scrambled eggs pretty well. To achieve an “eggy” flavor and mouthfeel, I rely on kala namak, or Indian black salt. It’s a Himalayan rock salt that’s very pungent in flavor. That initial whiff can be really intense and sulfuric (appetizing, I know), but once you blend it into the tofu, the eggy taste is not overwhelming. Oh, also, it’s not actually black in color, so that’s confusing. You can find kala namak at South Asian grocery stores on Amazon, which is where I make 99% of my purchases. If you can’t find, just substitute kosher salt or sea salt. It’ll still taste very delicious.
One of the most important parts of shakshuka is the slow-simmered tomato sauce. The slow simmering process helps build a deep, rich tomato flavor that’s full of umami. I like using fire-roasted tomatoes and a healthy dose of tomato paste for a little extra flavor and richness.
To bring some freshness to this slow-simmered dish, this shakshuka is finished with fresh cilantro and mint. You can serve as is, but to really sop up that delicious tomato sauce, I highly recommend serving alongside some crusty rustic bread.
Vegan Shakshuka with Tofu and White Beans
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapeño peppers, diced (optional, omit for a mild version)
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons each: cumin seeds and ground chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (28-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes, or tomato purée
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon brown sugar or coconut sugar
½ tsp kosher salt or sea salt + more to taste
Black pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
1 14-ounce block of firm tofu
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½-1 teaspoon kala namak (Indian black salt)*
½ teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)**
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed, and dried
2 handfuls of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1 small handful of fresh mint, roughly chopped (optional)
1 handful of black or green olives (optional)
Garnishes: black or green olives, rustic bread
*Kala namak gives the tofu an “eggy” flavor. If you don’t have it or don’t want an eggy flavor, just use kosher salt.
**The turmeric lends a nice yellow color to the tofu, making it feel more like “eggs” but is totally optional.
Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the olive oil, and once it is shimmering, add the diced onion and cook for 4-6 minutes or until translucent.
Add the garlic and jalapeño peppers and cook for another minute, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Then add the diced bell pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes until it’s starting to soften.
Stir in all of the spices (sweet paprika through cayenne pepper) and stir constantly for 30-60 seconds or until the spices have coated the vegetables and it smells very fragrant.
Add the diced tomatoes (or tomato purée), tomato paste, brown sugar or coconut sugar, kosher salt, black pepper, and bay leaves, and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the tomato sauce to thicken for 30 minutes, stirring once in a awhile.
Meanwhile, drain the tofu and pat down any excess water. Add the tofu into a food processor bowl and add the nutritional yeast, kala namak (or kosher salt), and turmeric (if using). Pulse the mixture a few times, but do not blend (or it will turn into a creamy purée). The final texture should resemble ricotta cheese. Taste the tofu mixture, and if you desire a more “eggy” taste, add ½ teaspoon more kala namak.
Once the tomato sauce has thickened up, taste it for seasonings. Add more salt or pepper as desired. If the sauce is too tangy, add more brown sugar or coconut sugar. If you’d like the sauce to be spicier, add some crushed red pepper flakes.
Add the crumbled tofu and drained cannellini beans on top of the tomato sauce. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and allow them to heat through and absorb the flavors, for 5-8 minutes.
When ready to serve, add in the cilantro and mint (if using) and lightly stir to combine. Garnish with olives, if desired, and serve with a a rustic bread.