I just bought Vegan with a Vengeance, and was paging through it deciding what to make. Derek’s mom and I wanted to test out Isa’s seitan recipe, so were trying to decide which seitan main course to make. She thought the stroganoff sounded good, but I was pretty wary. I have a very distinct memory of ordering stroganoff at West Side Cafe in Austin many, many years ago and being totally disgusted. I also tried making some stroganoff recipes from various cookbooks–I think they all ended up in the trash. I even adore gravy, so I don’t know why I found them so unappetizing. I think stroganoff is typically a dairy-rich dish, and trying to make the creamy sauce out of soy just doesn’t cut it. So I was hesitant, but then I read the recipe’s intro, and the first sentence says something like “So, you’ve been disappointed with vegan stroganoffs in the past…” In one sentence she had hooked me, and we decided to make it.
- 2 Tbs. arrowroot powder or cornstarch
- 2 cups cold water or vegetable broth
- 8 tsp. olive oil
- 1 cup shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 large onion, quartered and sliced into half moons
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 2 portobello caps, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbs. fresh thyme, chopped
- 3.5 cups seitan, sliced into thin wide strips
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup Burgundy cooking wine
- 1 Tbs. paprika
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup plain soy milk (I used unsweetened not plain)
- 2 tsp. dijon mustard
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1/2 pound wide noodles, cooked to package directions
- Heat 2 Tbs. of the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and onions, saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, crimini, and portobello mushrooms, and thyme. Saute for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat a cast-iron skillet with the remaining 2 tsp. of the olive oil, just long enough to coat the pan. Add the seitan and saute over medium heat about 25 minutes, until it is dark brown and crispy on the outside. If you are using store-bought seitan you only need to cook it for 10 minutes.
- Add the salt, wine, and paprika to the sauce. Turn up the heat to high to reduce the liquid, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, dissolve the arrowroot in the 2 cups of water.
- Lower the heat to medium-high, add the arrowroot mixture, stir well, and let the sauce thicken, about 5 minutes. Add the nutritional yeast and mix well. Add the soy milk and mustard and ring heat down to low; be very careful not to let it boil now because (according to Isa) it can make the soy milk and mustard bitter. Add the seitan and peas; cook for 10 more minutes.
- Divide the noodles into bowls and mix with the stroganoff. It is best to mix immediately so that the pasta doesn’t stick.
This was a complicated recipe! Definitely not a 30-minute dinner type recipe, more of a special occasion meal. It’s not hard, just has a lot of ingredients and steps. The instructions for browning the seitan worked perfectly–the exact amount of oil needed, temperature, and timing. I was impressed. The sauce was very good, pretty different than other stroganoffs I remember. Rather than being a gravy-type sauce it had less thickener and soy flavor, and more of a woody wine and thyme taste, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The wine added sweet acidity and the thyme provided a bright but earthy note. The mushrooms added body and depth, but not a huge amount of mushroom flavor. The onions contributed sweetness and stringiness, but I couldn’t taste them specifically. The seitan added texture to the dish, but not much else. And after sitting in the dish you couldn’t tell it had been fried, so I might try skipping that step. Anyway, I think that I might have actually preferred the texture be provided by big chunks of more lightly cooked mushrooms, added at the end of the cooking process. Not to say that the seitan was bad, just that it didn’t add any flavor of its own, and I found the texture to perhaps clash just a bit with the creamier sauce. We served the stroganoff over fresh fettucine, but I’m not sure it went together all that well. When I make this again I’m going to serve it over something else–maybe brown rice? Hmm, that doesn’t seem quite right either. Ideas? Certainly the recipe would be simpler without the seitan and pasta–at least it would be only a one-pot dish.
The recipe made quite a bit (she says 6-8 servings), and I froze the leftovers. Defrosting them a week or two later, I was impressed how neither the flavor nor texture had deteriorated at all. In fact, I think I liked it better–I certainly appreciated the presence of the seitan more than I had originally.
Update January 2008:
I made this dish for Derek, following the original instructions precisely, except that I couldn’t fit all the seitan in my cast iron skillet so I skimped it a bit. He was skeptical, but liked it once he tried it. I asked him if it tasted like beef stroganoff but he said he’s never had it. He ate this dish as leftovers twice, happily, even preparing it for himself once!
One caveat I have with this recipe is it is very much vegetarian slop, and doesn’t have the most appealing of presentation. I might be a bit worried if I was going to serve this to a non-vegetarian that they would be afraid of it.
Update Feb 2013:
I made this recipe using just criminis (no portobellos) and it tasted basically as I remembered it, but texturally it was lacking. I think if you don’t have portobellos then you have to substitute other mushrooms for textural variety.
I got some good ideas for this recipe from the wild mushrom friccassee in Fresh Food Fast. Next time I make this I’m going to serve it over farro!
Update Jan 2014:
I made this recipe again using 16 oz of mushrooms (half criminis and half white button), 1 tsp. dried thyme and 1 tsp. fresh rosemary instead of fresh thyme, about 1.67 cups of peas. I used 400g of homemade seitan, but I had to pan-fry it in two batches, using a total of 4 tsp. of olive oil for the seitan, plus 2 tsp. for the onions and a tablespoon of butter for the mushrooms. After I added the wine I let it cook down until almost all the liquid had evaporated, but at that point the mushrooms were super soft, and I wanted more texture, so I added some more mushrooms at that point. I was out of soymilk so used cow’s milk. For the broth I used my (almost unsalted) seitan cooking water.
The stew tasted just as I remembered it. The nutritional yeast is definitely a dominant flavor. It’s kind of like a nutritional yeast mushroom wine gravy.
I served it over grains rather than pasta—a mix of half farro and half hulled barley. I thought the barley would take longer to cook, so I soaked it for several hours first, but it turned out that the (unsoaked) barley took much longer to cook. It was quite al dente, with a pleasant “pop” in your mouth when you bit into a kernel. The barley, in contrast, had burst open and was softer. It was a nice combination, and I liked the stew with the grains much more than with pasta. I served the stroganoff and grains with a side of steamed kale, which added some much-needed color to my plate of brown slop.
Derek: B+ (“it’s tasty — rich and creamy”)