While substituting plant-based ingredients for eggs in foods like mayonnaise, pudding or cake isn’t too difficult, it gets a little more challenging when you’re trying to make an egg dish without any eggs.
The first consideration is the texture. For an egg salad, it needs to be chunky with clumps of tender elastic egg white along with a creamy pasty yolk that melds with the dressing to bind everything together. I’ve used tofu for this recipe, but because tofu has such a high water content, it’s important to either press or squeeze out as much water as possible to mimic the texture of egg whites while preventing the salad from getting watery. By leaving some big chunks of tofu you get the appearance of pieces of egg whites while the rest mixes together with the dressing to form a creamy mixture just like you’d get in an egg salad.
The second consideration is flavor. In the case of an egg salad, much of the flavor comes from the addition of mayonnaise (which also normally includes eggs). Thankfully I have a vegan mayonnaise recipe that takes care of this component quite nicely.
Lastly for color I add just enough turmeric to the mixture to give it a muted yellow color without making the salad taste like curry. Additionally, a bit of nutritional yeast helps in the color department as well as taste, adding plenty of amino acids that provide the taste of umami.
The finished “egg” salad is just as it should be: chunky, crispy, creamy and flavorful. Layered between two slices of whole grain bread with some vegetables, and it’s close enough that you won’t miss the eponymous ingredient.
Vegan Egg Salad Sandwich
- 10.6 ounces (300 grams) firm tofu
- 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon whole grain mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons celery, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon red onion, minced
- 2 teaspoons parsley, finely minced
- It's important to get rid of as much liquid as you can from the tofu otherwise your finished salad will taste watery. Put the tofu in a strainer over a sheet pan and put something heavy on top like a bowl filled with water. Let this sit for at least an hour and then use paper towels to soak up any remaining water on the tofu. If you're in a rush, you can skip the pressing and use a butter muslin to squeeze out the excess water by hand.
- Make the dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, mustard, salt, turmeric and paprika in a small bowl.
- Roughly crumble the dried tofu using your hands into a bowl and add the celery, onion, parsley and dressing. Mix together, leaving some chunks of tofu.
- To make sandwiches, just spread a thick layer of “egg" salad on a piece of toasted bread. Add your favorite vegetables such as cucumbers or tomatoes, and top with another slice of bread.
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.