Seitan is a meat substitute some say was invented by Buddhist monks. Seitan is made from wheat instead of soy which is better for some. It has a really nice texture which is great for dishes that require something a bit more “meaty” such as satay, or stroganoff. Many vegetarians feel that one is somehow compromising their values by eating something that tastes or has the texture of meat. Personally, I grew up loving meat in all of it’s forms. I chose to be a vegan for ethical and health reasons. I do not feel there is anything wrong with eating something that is similar to meat because it is not the flesh of a dead animal but a plant. Don’t be intimidated by this process. I was for the longest time but now that I make my own seitan, I just can’t seem to stop! There are many variations but this is a good basic recipe that will get you started.
2 cups Vital Gluten Flour (usually refrigerated)
1 cup Panko
4 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (optional but adds a nice flavor and color)
2 Tbs basil
2 teaspoons thyme
1 1/2 tsp salt
Mix all these ingredients in a bowl
Then mix together the below liquids
2 cups cold vegetable broth
1/4 cup tamari
2 Tbs. olive oil
Stir the liquid into the bowl of dry ingredients then knead with your hands for about 5 minutes. It should be elastic and stick together well although some of the panko might drop out which is no big deal.
Boil 6 cups of veggie broth and 1/4 cup tamari
Tear strips of seitan about 4 inches long and 1 inch wide. Throw it into the boiling broth and continue until all the seitan is in the pot. Bring the broth back up to a boil for a minute and then set in to simmer(bubbling very lightly). Cover loosely with a lid but let a little steam escape. Give it a stir if it looks like the pieces are sticking together. Cook for about 45 minutes. When it is done it should taste chewy and spongy but not like raw dough in the middle.
From here you can do lots of things with it. a simple method is to cut the seitan into long strips, coat with flour and then pan fry. This is a good method for a picata for example. I made the seitan picata in Veganomicon with my last batch. You can also fry in olive oil and then coat with tamari for a thai noodle dish. Let me know how it comes out! For photos and more recipes visit VO2!
This is a good soup for all of the spring spinach:
Spinach and Zucchini Soup
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed/chopped
2 med. onions, chopped (as an onion-phobe, I tend to half the amount, sometimes quarter it–how much you like onions is up to you)
2 1/2 med potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 1/2 cups zucchini, loosely chopped
4 cups vegetable broth/stock
4 cups fresh spinach
1 cup cilantro (I’ve used parsley too and it’s also good here)
one lemon (I love lemon so I sometimes use two)
1. Heat oil on medium-high heat, add garlic and onions in pinch of salt. Saute until onions become translucent.
2. Add stock, potatoes, and zucchini. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are soft, about 10-15 minutes.
3. Stir in spinach and let wilt, about 10 seconds.
4. Stir in cilantro.
5. Turn off heat and puree. And hand blender works well here. Otherwise puree in a blender in small batches, letting it cool a bit first. If you pureed in a blender, return all of the soup to pot.
6. Add juice of one (or two) lemons.
Serve–it’s lovely to drizzle a little olive oil on the top, though not necessary. And this soup is good hot or cold (on hot days).
I love it with some crusty bread and a baked sweet potato.
Fresh morel mushrooms….1/4 pound of fresh mushrooms, sliced thin
Asparagus: tough ends snapped off and cut into one inch pieces….one pound
English peas, fresh or frozen….3/4 cup
Ramps, cleaned….1 cup
Lemon zest….1 tbsp
Lemon juice…. 2 tbsp
Salt and pepper…to taste
In a medium sauce pan, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
Sauté the onions and garlic until soft.
Add the rice with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently until fragrant.
Add 4 cups of water or vegetable stock and bring to boil.
Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. ( this is different than the usual risotto method but it’s faster and yields the same result! )
Cook for 15 minutes. Checking after ten, and adding more liquid if necessary.
While the risotto cooks, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Add the asparagus and peas to the water and blanch for 3-4 minutes. Immediately transfer them, with a slotted spoon, to the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
Next add the cleaned ramps and blanch for 2-3 minutes. Transfer the ramps to a colander and place under cold water until chilled.
In a sauté pan over med-high heat, heat another tablespoon of olive oil.
Add the mushrooms and quickly sauté them for about two minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small plate to cool.
Check the risotto. If the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, remove it from the heat, keeping the cover on.
In a blender, add the three cloves of smashed garlic, lemon juice, and ramps. (squeeze the ramps in a kitchen towel to remove any excess moisture and chop them roughly to remove any excess moisture.) Turn on the blender and puree.
Slowly add the olive oil until a smooth texture is achieved. Taste, and season with salt and pepper.
Remove the cover to the risotto pot and add the ramp pesto, stirring until fully incorporated.
Next add the mushrooms, blanched vegetables and lemon zest. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper.
That’s all there is to it! Easy, fresh and a delicious way to celebrate the arrival of spring. Enjoy!
Our friend Justine sent me this recipe, a favorite of hers, for all you spice lovers!
Red Hot Chili Tofu
The tomato paste and chili paste combine to turn the tofu a lovely red color. Add more or less chili paste according to your heat tolerance. (From Vegan Fire and Spice: 200 Sultry and Savory Global Recipes.)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoon water
2 tablespoon soy sauce
3 teaspoons sake or dry white wine (I used brown rice vinegar instead)
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch strips
3 tablespoons cold-pressed canola oil
1/4 cup minced scallions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon hot chili paste (or more, to taste)
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
In a small bowl, combine the tomato paste, water, soy sauce, sake, and sugar. Mix well and set aside.
In a shallow bowl, combine the cornstarch and salt. Dredge the tofu strips in the cornstarch mixture, shaking off any excess.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the tofu in batches and cook until golden brown. Transfer to a platter.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the same skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the scallions, garlic, ginger, and chili paste, and cook, stirring for 15 seconds. Add the reserved tomato paste mixture and stir until well blended. Add the reserved tofu and toss gently to coat with the sauce, cooking until heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve hot, sprinkled with cilantro