This is actually the second recipe I tried from Veganomicon. (I’m blogging in reverse order today.) It’s a mix of veggies (the cajun holy trinity–onions, celery, and bell pepper), rice, kidney beans, seitan, tomato sauce, and spices.
The basic idea
You cut a pound of seitan into bite-size pieces and then saute it in a large dutch oven until lightly browned. You remove it from the pan and then saute the onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic. When they’re soft you add tomato paste. Deglaze the pan with sherry then add rice, vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, the seitan, white and red kidney beans, and seasoning (cajun flavors–salt, thyme, marjoram, paprika, celery seed, onion powder, and cayenne). Stick the dutch oven in the oven until the rice is cooked. You’re supposed to garnish with chopped parsley and Louisana-style hot sauce.
My first problem was that my seitan left some bits in the bottom of the pan and after sautéing the veggies for 12-14 minutes those bits were starting to burn. They weren’t just getting brown, the whole bottom of the pot was getting a large, burned crust on it. I thought about adding the sherry and trying to “deglaze” the burnt stuff off, but I decided the burn had gone too far. I took everything out and scrubbed the pan, then continued with the recipe. Probably my dutch oven has lost a bit of its glazing, but still–I don’t see the point of sauteing the seitan at the start. The seitan in the final dish is cooked for a while, and totally loses any crispness that the sautéing adds. Next time I’d just start with the veggies and add the seitan after the veggies were cooked.
I used white basmati rice but next time I will try brown rice.
The recipe says that if you’re using fresh thyme you should just poke the sprigs into the rice before baking. The leaves will fall off the stems while cooking and you can just remove the stems afterwards. But the leaves didn’t fall off the stems, and even though I added way more than 4-6 sprigs of thyme (as specified), I didn’t think the final dish had enough thyme flavor. I love all the thyme in the Jamaican rice and beans recipe, and I was hoping this would be similar. But that recipe has you pull the thyme off the stems, which takes forever. Maybe it’s worth it though. If I make this again I will add several tablespoons of chopped fresh thyme leaves.
I didn’t have any celery seed so I added some Penzey’s cajun spice instead. The final dish came out just fine. It was quite tomato-y, but the seasoning seemed good and the balance of rice to tomato to veggies to seitan suited us. Derek liked it and ate the leftovers happily (with Cholula hot sauce). He said he wouldn’t mind if I made it again, but the recipe could be improved.
I forgot to say that this makes a large amount, the majority of which is just rice. Next time I would maybe cut the rice down just a tad. Still–you’ll need a bit pot. I used my 6-quart dutch oven, which was big enough. If you’re making this for the first time you might want to cut it down, just in case you don’t like it. Alot of the vegweb comments (below) seem to think it’s underspiced. We didn’t feel that way at all, but maybe because I added extra thyme and the Penzey’s cajun seasoning.
Here are some comments from vegweb:
- under-spiced, so I probably wont make that again. I also omitted all of the oil in the recipe. hated it.(mdv)
- this was my first time eating seitan (i used store bought soy sauce marinated seitan) and it did not disappoint! I halved the recipe and just used red kidney beans. I did all the spices to taste, adding a lot of cayenne, and this was really really good. i will definitely be making this one again soon. (thirteenblackbirds)
- I cheated a little to cut back on time buy cooking the rice in veg broth in a seperate pot, then following the directions for adding everything else in a large pot & added the rice once it was cooked and just let it simmer a little on the stove. I think one thing that really made it was that I used seitan o greatness from the ppk site that I made the day before. That was the best seitan I ever had! (lisa)
- Again, a bit weak on the execution. Here’s how to fix that: use tempeh instead of seitan. Marinate it in Bragg’s, mustard and Tabasco and saute with the vegetables. Double the spices, stir in a whole package of soyrizo towards the end and don’t worry about baking it—just simmer on the stove for about 30 minutes. Add a couple of dashes of liquid smoke at the end. I know it’s a lot of modifications, but it makes some bangin good eats in a huge quantity. (mamaanna)
- Pretty good. Makes a huge amount though! I had to split it into two pans. Instead of seitan I used some “Shanghai Vegetarian Chicken”, and it turns out that it was really tofu that was chicken-colored. Anyway, still good. We never got tired of it even though it made a boatload. It wasn’t overly spicy, and the rice baked fine without an excess liquid or dryness. (fb)
- I made this because kidney beans and white beans are pretty much the only kind of bean available in a regular supermarket here so I happened to have both kinds. I didn’t use seitan though because my bf doesn’t like it. I thought this tasted good but I felt like I was eating too much rice. I would use maybe half the amount of rice if I made this again because it made soooo much food and it was mostly rice. I would add more vegetables instead of the rice. (algae)
- I WISH I had taken heed from previous reviewers, who were spot on. Less rice and more spices would have made this better. The rice overshadowed the other ingredients. Granted, it turned out to be an okay comfort food, but it made a LOT (I could scarcely fit it into the biggest casserole dish I own, and it spilled over in the oven), and more spices would be be nice. (I even used the fresh thyme- I LOVE thyme!). I’ll definitely make it again, but with revisions. (kindnesstoall)