Venezuelan-style tofu sofrito scramble
makes 6 generously stuffed arepas
This tofu scramble get’s it’s golden hue and sweet flavors from a very traditional Venezuelan array of vegetables and seasonings. I’ve actually pumped up the savory and spicy factor by including chile peppers and garlic, but the addition of annatto makes this entirely authentic in that vegan latino way.
Make the filling first, then prep the garnishes, and then only then make the arepas. These thick corn cakes need to be eaten hot; as they cool they’ll transform from crisp to rubbery, which is no fun unless you’re in need of a replacement tire on your granny cart.
1 pound soft tofu, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon annatto seeds
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 medium sized red onion, peeled and diced
1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored and diced
1 small green chile pepper, minced (optional!)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup finely diced red ripe tomatoes
1/3 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
6 hot, freshly made arepas (keep warm in an oven, wrapped in foil until ready to serve)
Arepa sandwich fixins’ such as: avocado and thin tomato slices and cilantro sprigs
1. Fry annatto seeds with olive oil in a large, deep skillet heat olive oil over low heat, add for 2 minutes; the oil will turn a dark reddish orange. Turn off heat, remove the seeds from the pan and discard: you can either strain the oil and seeds from the pan and return the oil to the pan, or just use a spoon to scoop out the seeds, tipping the edge next to the side of the pan to drain out any oil.
2. Turn the heat to medium high and add garlic, onion, bell pepper and chile pepper (if using) and fry, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula until vegetables are very tender and soft, about 10 to 12 minutes. Crumble the tofu into the pan and sprinkle with oregano, cumin, tomatoes, vegetable broth, lemon juice, and salt. Increase heat and bring liquid to a lively simmer, then reduce heat to medium. Cook the tofu, stirring occasionally for 18-22 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed but the tofu appears just a little moist; scrambled tofu should never be wet or soggy! Fold in nutritional yeast, taste and add more salt or lemon juice if desired. Turn off heat, cover and keep warm.
2. To assemble an arepa, use a thin, sharp knife and carefully slice a hot arepa in half 3/4 of the way through, leaving a small portion connected to help everything hold together during eating. If desired spread a little bit of vegan margarine inside, stuff in as much of the scrambled tofu and cram in some of the extras: avocado, cilantro, etc and eat immediately.
You can of course skip the arepas entirely and serve with any favorite brunchy potato offering, or go cross cultural and serve with Lemon Garlic Roasted Potatoes.