You shouldn’t have to give up your favorite foods when you go vegan, and the same goes for when you decided to eat more whole-food plant-based. I’ve been in love with Hot For Food’s “Vegan Egg Yolk” since the day that Lauren Toyota published her recipe, so instead of giving it up when I stopped eating vegan butter, I decided to try and make her recipe work for me and my goals.
When I first saw Lauren Toyota’s “Vegan Egg Yolk” on her YouTube channel, I knew I had to try it. And I did.
As a vegan, I hadn’t really thought about how much I had loved a runny yolk before, or how much I missed dipping toast into the still-liquid center of a perfectly timed egg, but after trying the Hot For Food “Vegan Egg Yolk”, I was flooded with all of these childhood memories I had forgotten about. The taste sent me back to a dish my mom used to make for me, of poached eggs mashed together with torn pieces of toast and ton of black pepper. I was sold!
If a vegan “yolk” could evoke childhood memories of actual eggs, then you know it’s good.
But as I’ve said, I’ve been eating more whole-food plant-based, and just like making vegan versions of my favorite omnivore foods, I now am challenging myself to make WFPB versions of my favorite vegan dishes.
Don’t get me wrong, Lauren Toyota’s “Vegan Egg Yolk” is perfect as is, but I wanted to tweak a few things to make it fit in with my goals. The main obstacle: vegan butter.
Much of the texture and mouthfeel of the “yolk” comes from the copious amounts of vegan butter. Not only does it give the right flavor, but when it hits your tongue, the fatty, creamy texture is instantly interpreted as “yolk”.
Trying to make a WFPB version of this sauce wasn’t just arbitrary. No. I have my reasons. Mainly, I wanted to alter this recipe so that I could eat more of it!
The original recipe has about 6 tablespoons of vegan butter, and about ¼ cup plant milk, and ½ cup water. My first step in adapting this recipe was to calculate the total amount of “liquid” in the dish so that I could look at ways to keep the same ratio of seasoning and flavorings to sauce.
I also saw that the sauce was thickened with cornstarch. Personally, I haven’t been using starches in my cooking, so that’s when I combined the need for plant milk with the need for a thickening agent, which is what brought me to using raw cashews.
I’ve played a lot with cashew sauces in the past, but my newest obsession is using a smaller ratio of raw cashews to water, but simmering the sauce so that it thickens up like a gravy (check out this gravy video!). Not only do you get the richness of a cashew-based sauce, but you can use fewer cashews, saving you both cash and calories.
My first test was a success. I took the basic structure of my “Sausagey Gravy”, and combined it with Lauren Toyota’s flavorings, and the result was a WFPB take on Hot For Food’s “Vegan Yolk”, with all of the flavor and texture, but without any added oils, and about half of the calories.
Plant-Based “Yolk” Sauce
The BEST WFPB vegan "yolk" sauce that has all of the decadence of a runny egg yolk, but made from plants
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup about 40g raw cashews*
- 2 Campari tomatoes
- ¼ cup nutrition yeast
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- fresh cracked black pepper
- ½ lemon, juiced (or more to taste)
Place all of the "yolk" ingredients in a high-speed or Bullet blender, and blend for about 30 to 45 seconds until there are no bits of cashews or tomatoes remaining.
- Transfer the mixture to a medium, saucepan. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat, stirring continuously. When it’s thickened, it’s done. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm.
- Stir lemon juice into thickened “Yolk” sauce. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm.
Now that I had this perfect sauce, I needed to come up with ways to use it. Of course my mind immediately went to Benedicts and breakfast sandwiches.
I had some Ezekiel buns on hand, so I decided to use those for both the English muffin component of the Benedict, and the bread portion of the breakfast sandwich. For some, these buns may be a bit “crunchy”, but I’m actually really starting to enjoy the heartiness of whole grain breads.
Easy Plant-Based Benedict (or Breakfast Sandwich)
The BEST plant-based breakfast made with an incredible "yolk" sauce and smoky tempeh bacon!
- 1 batch Plant-Based “Yolk” Sauce (recipe above)
- 1 batch Smoky Tempeh Bacon (recipe below)
- ½ block (8oz) firm or extra firm tofu
- 2 Ezekiel English muffins or burger buns
- 3 cups fresh arugula or greens of choice, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup water or broth.
- chives or green onion
Prepare the Plant-Based “Yolk” Sauce and Smoky Tempeh Bacon according to the recipes below.
- Cut your tofu into ¼ inch slabs, and then sandwich the slices between two clean towels or paper towels.Allow the tofu to dry for about 10 minutes.
- Preheat a large skillet or frying pan to medium heat. If it’s nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron, you don’t need to add any oil. Sear the sliced tofu on each side for about 4 minutes or until they are golden brown. If it seems like the tofu wants to stick to the pan, allow it to cook longer. It should release when it’s ready to flip. Remove cooked tofu from the pan, and set it aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
- Place your arugula and water or broth into a saucepan and cook just long enough for the arugula to wilt.
- Toast your English Muffins or buns.
Stir in the juice of 1/2 lemon into the Plant-Based "Yolk" Sauce. Arrange your toasted English muffins or buns on a plate, cut-side up. Top each muffin with arugula, tofu, tempeh bacon, and a generous drizzle (about 2 tablespoons per muffin half) of the Plant-Based “Yolk” Sauce. Garnish with fresh chives or green onion, and a pinch of smoked paprika.
Cut your muffin or buns in half. Top half of each muffin with arugula, tofu, tempeh bacon, and a generous drizzle (about 2 tablespoons per muffin half) of the Plant-Based “Yolk” Sauce. Top with the other half of your muffin or bun and enjoy immediately.
Various components can be prepared ahead of time, and assembled when ready to eat. There will also be extra “yolk” sauce and tempeh bacon.
To seal the deal on these breakfast dishes, I really wanted some type of breakfast “meat”. Again, keeping this wfpb, I didn’t want to use the old standby vegan bacons or breakfast sausages. Tempeh is a great staple, and it actually makes a great bacon. It just takes a few pantry staples and a good char to really get that bacon flavor across.
Smoky Tempeh Bacon
The BEST plant-based tempeh bacon
- 1/2 block (4oz) tempeh*
- 3 cups veggie broth or water
- 2 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
Place your tempeh into a small pot or saucepan, and completely cover it with veggie broth or water. Bring the broth to low boil, cover the pot with a lid, and simmer the tempeh on low for 20 minutes, flipping halfway though.
Carefully remove the tempeh from the broth, and allow it to cool for about 5 minutes. Thinly slice the tempeh, and dry off the slices so that there is no extra moisture on the surface.
In a shallow dish or small sheet pan, mix together the Liquid Aminos, maple syrup, nutritional yeast, paprika, and black pepper. Place the tempeh slices into the marinade in a single layer. Turn them after about 10 minutes so that the other side gets coated. They won’t really absorb the marinade. It’s what’s on the surface that counts.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place your coated tempeh onto a lined baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes. When they are browned and starting to slightly char, flip them and cook them on the other side until browned and slightly charred.
- Remove from the oven, and allow them to cool slightly before adding to your favorite plant-based meals.
*Just double the recipe if you want to use the whole block.