Easy, three ingredient (two of which are flavourings) scrambled red lentils! It is healthy, fat free, meal prep friendly and most importantly: so delicious and comforting!
The best things are found when you are looking for something else.
Also the best things in life are free. But that is neither here nor there. Though this recipe is so pocket friendly that I decided that doubling up on proverb cliches is a fitting metaphor for this post which basically holds two recipes!
I was looking for a perfect vegan answer to scrambled eggs.
On the way I found red lentil tohu!
I love scrambled eggs! Pillowy curds immersed in scrumptious ooey gooey-ness. I like to keep them a bit.... will I say it?
Yep, I went there, the food adjective of controversy, I know, and on my first blog post.... This is me living my edgiest life.
I love moist scrambled eggs!
I tried many recipes for vegan scrambled eggs and ate at my fair share of restaurants here in Israel. I tasted many delicious versions of scrambles, but none satisfied my want for that juicy texture.
Being wholefoods - oriented myself - I leaned towards the chickpea flour camp, rather than the tofu camp (though I must admit - silken tofu scramble is quite divine.... and pricey here in Israel).
The problem with chickpea flour omelettes and scrambles for me was that it is tricky to get the texture right, since legume flours do not reach their maximal thickening potential upon heating, and keep hardening upon cooling. This led to dry pieces which always tasted a bit too much like chickpea flour to me. It was not fluffy enough. Trying to improve this, I used a higher water ratio in the recipe, but then the 'curds' never really formed and this led to the preparation never setting more than custard during heating and therefore not managing to scramble. Once it cooled on my plate - it became a little easier to scramble..... Which made me think!
It was almost like it needed to be scrambled after being cooked and cooled. Eureka! This was it!
But it wasn't until I saw this recipe for Ethiopian buticha that it really drove that idea home.
I mean - it even says it resembles scrambled eggs.
Essentially, they are making a makeshift Burmese tofu (chickpea tohu) and then breaking it and scrambling it.
I had made chickpea tohu before, and it had a very unique flavour that did not resonate egg to me. But it was worth a try!
I looked through the internet to find other people making this into a scramble sort of preparation and found this little gem by nest and glow.
I had to try this!
And I did. And it was good, but the chickpea flavour was still a bit too obvious . Despite the longer cooking time and higher water ratio, there was still a slight grassy quality to it. I even tried roasting the chickpea flour first to get rid of the rawness of it. I'll spare you the hassle. Don't, just.... don't.
I tried thinking of similar ways to make this without chickpea flour. It took me 4 months to get around to attempting some thing I was a going to be a sure fail: the same method with red lentils.
It was good.
Nay. It was life-changing, because on the way I found 'red lentil tohu' which became a staple and one of the most versatile preparations I now make and use at home. I think I am going to dedicate a blog post all to itself very soon!
Back to the red lentil tohu scramble: the first trial was pretty spot on.
In fact it is nearly the recipe, quantities and all, that I use ever since, even after rounds of optimizations.
I played around a bit with swapping some of the lentils to oats to improve the texture (I was looking for a slightly slimier mouthfeel for the connective fluid between the curds). The oats helped with this, but also imparted a unmistakably oaty flavour.
So we scratched that and went back to my oh so SEO-friendly title of 'one ingredient vegan scramble' (not counting the flavouring.... )
Less ingredients also means easier!!!! the most challenging part is waiting for the tohu to set before scrambling. I usually make a big block and leave it in the fridge. Then, every time I want either a scramble or to bake a few cubes and add to my lunch - it is available.
Also, the final scramble is super meal prep friendly. Feel free to scramble a large amount, then chill and save for a quick reheating when short in time.
How to make it:
If using whole / split red lentils I highly recommend soaking them first to soften them, ensuring finer blending and a more homogeneous end result.
2. Blending / mixing:
I use whole / split red lentils as I have a high powered blender. If you do not have a high powered blender you can still make this using red lentil flour! Try to get a flour that is really fine. If you can only find gritty lentil flour but want an extra smooth tohu you can still soak the flour in the water for an hour and then run it through any blender to improve texture.
On medium high heat with constant stirring. depending on your stovetop and the quantity you chose to make (I make double / triple quantity usually) it should take around the 5 minutes ballpark for the mixture to homogenously thicken completely.
I set my tohu in a flexible plastic container so it easily pops out after. You can also use a glass dish as it does not stick (it always releases a bit of fluids around the edges and shrinks a bit). At this point you have made red lentil tohu!! Which is amazing! Cube it and roast it briefly, throw into stirfries, warm up in the microwave and top with a sauce; Sky is the limit!
I like to scramble it by clawing off a big piece, then squeezing it in my palm! So so satisfying! I place it in a small pot with some water, nutritional yeast and kala namak and wait for it all to warm through as it becomes softer again, and the water thickens a bit with the broken pieces of the tohu.
Personally - I like to eat it straight out of the pot.... but if you want to go ahead and make more washing up for yourself - that is your choice! I also like to serve it on sourdough toast, with my vegan butter, like I do at my Eatwith brunches.
Red lentil tohu scramble
Almost 1 ingredient and 15 minutes will meal prep you for scrambles and red lentil tohu for the whole week! The amount of the recipe is a for two small or one whopping serving in my opinion. I usually triple this each time I make it.
Ingredients: 45g* lentils 1 cup (236g) water 5-8 tbsp water (depending how moist you like your scrambles) 1/4 tsp kala namak (or to taste. I use more.) 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast (this is for delicate flavour - also to taste obviously)
* I like using 45g lentils for this amount of water for the eggs. In general that is my favourite ratio to yield the softest tihu without it separating from water, it is the minimal amount you want to go for. If you want a slightly heartier texture for the tohu, try using 55g or even 65g for more meatiness.
I have tried adding the flavouring straight into the tohu block in step 2 of the recipe but nutritional yeast changes the texture and makes it more 'fudgy' i guess? and the kala namak becomes less potent with multiple heating stages so I recommend adding them to the scrambling stages which also leaves the rest of the tihu as a blank canvas for any creations you may want to make!
I do not pre-wash my lentils. if you wish to do so just weigh them before and after washing and detract the added mass from the water used in the recipe
For a slightly more eggy colour add a tiny pinch turmeric and a tinier pinch paprika to the blending step.