Every Sunday morning, I like to eat my Kashi cereal, Trader Joe’s British muffins (just like English muffins but vegan!) and lounge around watching Giada at Home on the Food Network. I love the way Italian chef Giada De Laurentiis whips up beautiful meals, in her beautiful home with her beautiful clothes…it’s food porn! Occasionally, Giada cooks something that’s accidentally vegan, like her white bean hummus. Yet most of her recipes aren’t even vegetarian. But as many of her dishes sound so delish, what if I veganized them? And that’s precisely what I decided to do when I saw her scrumptious recipe for Tomato Basil Bread Pudding yesterday.
While bread pudding is usually a sweet dessert, strata is a savory bread pudding, comprised of bread, cheese, veggies and/or meat with a beaten egg poured over and baked. It’s like a combination of a quiche (with no crust) and stuffing. I kept Giada’s filling the same…hearty multi-grain bread; sweet, juicy tomatoes; fragrant basil with its distinctive aroma reminiscent of minty licorice. For the egg custard component, I used tofu which gives a great egg-y texture along with soymilk, earthy turmeric, nutritional yeast flakes which impart texture and a subtle cheesy taste, and pungent and tart Dijon mustard for a kick of flavor. The turmeric, yeast flakes and mustard also bestow a pale yellow hue just like eggs.
Next Sunday, I’ll once again be curled up watching Giada’s cooking. But this time, I’ll be eating this gorgeously colorful dish that begs to be eaten for brunch, lunch, dinner…whenever!
Notes: For greasing the baking dish, I used vegan Earth Balance. For the filling, instead of dairy cheese that Giada’s recipe calls for, I substituted shredded mozzarella Daiya vegan cheese.
Vegan custard recipe:
1 1/2 cups soft tofu
1 cup plain soymilk
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes (you can purchase in bulk at Whole Foods)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric, dried
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9 X 13 X 2-inch glass baking dish. Add the bread cubes and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until slightly soft, about 2 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the basil. Pour the tomato mixture and Daiya cheese over the bread cubes and combine well.
5. For the tofu custard, place tofu, soymilk, nutritional yeast flakes, turmeric, salt, pepper and Dijon mustard into a food processor or blender. Blend all ingredients until smooth.
6. Pour the custard over the bread/tomato/cheese mixture and gently toss to coat. Bake until slightly golden, about 35 to 40 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.