Thursday, February 25, 2010

Potato Poblano Hash with Tofu "Eggs"

This has been those “use-up-what-you-have” weeks. With 3 days away from home last weekend and a big move coming up this weekend, I had to seriously resist the urge to load up at the farmers market this week. Instead, I made every reasonable effort to use up all fresh foods in order to avoid packing a refrigerator full of produce. To get the creative juice flowing, I tallied my resources. A half potato, half rutabaga, and half onion were scattered around in my refrigerator. Hearing their calls from corners of the Kenmore, I was reminded of how round, firm and beautiful the roots were at the market when I bought them nearly 2 weeks prior. Now they are peeled, half-consumed, and left in the shadows – waiting for me to pull my mind out of my busy life and back into the kitchen for some improvisational cuisine.

Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner? If there is one dish that really works both ways, it’s a good, hearty hash. While standard hash browns are truly suitable any time of day, I enjoy a nice hash out of its traditional brunch context. One of my favorite recipes as an omnivore was a spicy sweet potato hash with mustard greens and poached eggs. Though I did have a sweet potato at my disposal, it wasn’t sliced open yet like the white potato and rutabaga that were both looking pretty desperate. One confession: I did make a minor grocery run to pick up a few key ingredients that I thought would make this dish really pop. I wanted a spicy, roasted pepper to give the hash a kick and a fresh pepper for sweetness. I also love adding sturdy greens to potatoes for a texture twist and nutritional punch. I made it out of Whole Foods in about a 3rd of the normal cost, which made this still feel like a cleaning-out-the-fridge recipe sadly enough.

The poached egg replacement was tricky. While many breakfast-style eggs are easy to veganize, a poached egg or “over-easy” version is harder to replicate. I found an intriguing recipe on VegWeb that I adjusted based on reader reviews and my own personal preferences. I marinate and then pan-fried pressed tofu slices. There are times when I barely have the patience to really drain and press tofu, but this seemed necessary and worthwhile. If you have never pressed tofu before, it is incredible easy. It just takes a couple of cans and 10 minutes of waiting while the water seeps out. The original recipe says to bake the tofu, which I did for 10 minutes until I decided I wanted a crispier texture. I ended up pan-frying them the rest of the way and they came out beutifully. Next time I might try coating them with a touch of corn starch for added crunch.

Though the rutabaga admittedly did not stand out in this dish, you could use a combination of white and sweet potato with excellent results. You could also grate instead of cubing the potatoes, since we all have our geometric preferences. To make this spicier, if you end up with a weaker pepper like I did, add more cayenne and a dash of hot sauce to the hash. If this is too spicy, as some Poblanos end up being, whip up some vegan sour cream with that spare silken tofu lying around in your pantry.

Potato Poblano Hash with Tofu "Eggs"
Serves 4-6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes


1 Poblano, Anaheim or Pasilla pepper
2 c. Potatoes, russet or baking, rinsed and cut in ¼” cubes
1 c. Rutabaga, peeled and cut in ¼” cubes
2 T. Canola oil
1 Medium onion, chopped
4-5 Large garlic cloves, minced
1 c. Red bell pepper, chopped
½ lb Swiss chard, leaves and stems divided chopped
1 tsp. Salt (or to taste)
½ tsp. Cayenne

1 14 oz package of extra firm tofu, drained
3 T. Canola Oil
3 T. Apple cider vinegar
1 ½ T. Soy sauce
2 tsp Garlic powder
½ tsp Turmeric
Hot pepper sauce to taste (Tabasco, Louisiana or other favorite brand)


Set oven to high broil setting. Broil whole pepper, turning occasionally, until blackened and blistered on all sides. Remove from oven and place in a paper bag to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel skin and remove stem and seeds. Chop and set aside.

While pepper broils, steam or parboil potatoes and rutabaga 3-4 minutes until barely tender. Set aside.

Heat oil in cast iron skillet and sauté onions over medium heat until starting to brown, about 10-15 minutes. Increase heat to high and add potatoes, rutabaga and garlic. Stir well to be sure vegetables don’t stick too much to the bottom of the pan, cook 10-15 minutes until vegetables start to brown.

While potatoes are browning, press liquid out of tofu by cutting the block into 6-8 slices. Place slices over a few paper towels on top of a cutting board. Place a pan or baking dish on top of slices and press down by putting a few cans of beans/tomato sauce/etc… in the dish. Let tofu press 10 minutes. When finished, place in a baking dish. Whisk together remaining ingredients (oil through hot sauce) and pour over tofu. Let tofu marinate while you finish the hash.

Add red pepper and chard stems to the hash, stir and sauté another 5 minutes or until pepper starts to brown. Add Chard leaves, roasted Poblano (or whichever roasted green pepper you chose), salt and cayenne. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Once chard is wilted and potatoes are sufficiently brown and crispy, remove from heat and set aside.

Coat the same pan in cooking spray and fry the marinated tofu until crispy and brown on each side, about 5-6 minutes per side. Remove and place over hash.

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