My favorite vegetarian sheet pan dinners

March 21, 2022 at 10:10 pm (Alma's faves, Beans, Cruciferous rich, Monthly menu plan: dinner, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, Seitan) ()

When I’m feeling beat at the end of the day I often turn to a sheet pan dinner. It just feels easier than making a “recipe”. Just throw a bunch of ingredients onto a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and spices, and bake until crispy. The main challenges/drawbacks are:

  • We usually don’t have that many leftovers. One baking sheet of food usually just makes enough for one meal for the three of us. Probably I should double the ingredients and just put half in the fridge so that I can bake a second pan for lunch the next day. Or bake two pans at once?
  • Sometimes different ingredients cook at different times, so I have to regularly check the oven and take out / rotate anything that is getting overdone. I try to prevent this by cutting the quicker cooking items into large chunks or putting the slower cooking items on the edge of the pan, but I usually can’t quite make everything cook at the same time. Still, it’s a relatively mindless activity, so even though it’s technically “work” it doesn’t feel hard.
  • It can be hard to find a combination that feels satisfying, and like a full meal. Most sheet pan suppers I see online incorporate meat or fish. Figuring out satisfying vegetarian combinations seems harder.

I don’t actually have that many variations I make. I most often make cauliflower, chickpeas, and seitan. I’ll give a rough recipe for it below. I’d really like to find more combinations we like. There are lots of recipes for vegetarian sheet pan dinners online. Perhaps I will try to make one each week for the next couple of weeks and see if I can find any combos I particularly like. Read the rest of this entry »

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Quick weeknight thai curry

March 2, 2022 at 10:37 pm (B_(3 stars, like), Cruciferous rich, Deborah Madison, East and SE Asia, Monthly menu plan: dinner, Seitan, Tofu, Vegetable dishes)

For a while now I’ve been wanting to add a thai curry to our monthly menu rotation. But Alma won’t yet eat thai curry, and my existing recipe is a little bit complicated when I’m in a rush. When I saw this “Bare-bones tofu curry” in Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen, I decided it was worth a try. Read the rest of this entry »

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Beer-braised seitan with sauerkraut and onions

March 6, 2013 at 12:39 am (B_minus (2.5 stars), Cruciferous rich, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Seitan, Winter recipes)

Yes, another sauerkraut dish!  This is a Flemish-inspired recipe from Peter Berley’s Modern Vegetarian Kitchen that I’ve been wanting to make for years.  Alex was in the mood for seitan, and I was in the mood to use up more of my sauerkraut, so we bought a bottle of dark German beer and a couple of pounds of onions and we were all set. Read the rest of this entry »

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Seitan and vegetables with mole sauce

November 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm (Beans, C (2 stars, okay, edible), Fall recipes, Mexican & S. American, Peter Berley, Sauce/dressing, Seitan, Winter recipes)

Years ago I ordered the OLÉ MAN SEITAN at Angelica Kitchen in New York City, and loved it.  It was a whole wheat tortilla stuffed with seitan and roasted vegetables and topped with mole sauce.  It was huge, but so tasty I finished the whole thing.  Afterwards, however, I regretted it, as I went into one of the worst salt comas of my life.  Still, I have fond memories of that mole sauce.  The recipe for the dish is in the Angelica Kitchen cookbook, and I tried making it once many years ago, without success.  I no longer remember the details, but I remember it didn’t taste nearly as good as at the restaurant.  But I had some homemade seitan to use up, and decided to give it another shot last night. Read the rest of this entry »

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Moroccan-style vegetable tagine

July 2, 2012 at 10:39 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Beans, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Middle East / N. Africa, Other, Root vegetables, Seitan)

I haven’t posted to this blog in a long time.  Partly it’s because I’ve been traveling a lot, and partly because I’ve been cooking old, familiar recipes instead of trying new ones.  But mostly it’s just that I’ve gotten behind.  I have a stack of recipes that I’ve cooked and keep meaning to blog about, but never seem to get to.  And the longer I wait the less I remember.  But last night I made a new recipe that’s definitely worth blogging about.  It’s a Moroccan-style tagine from the Angelica Home Kitchen cookbook by Leslie McEachern.   Derek and I have tried vegetarian (or at least meatless) tagines at Moroccan restaurants before, and never really cared for them.  The broth is always a bit boring and the vegetables bland and overcooked.  And the couscous never really excites us.  I decided to try this tagine recipe because it didn’t look like what we’ve gotten in restaurants!  There are lots of spices and not much broth. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red curry with winter vegetables and cashews

January 2, 2012 at 2:22 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Fall recipes, Nancie McDermott, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, Seitan, soup, Starches, Winter recipes)

Back in Pittsburgh I used to make this recipe several times each winter.  This dish has all four essential Thai tastes: sweet, salty, spicy, and sour. It tastes just like the curry you’d get in a restaurant, except the addition of vegetable broth results in a lighter dish that’s less overwhelmingly rich. The crunchy cashews make a nice textural contrast to the silky broth and creamy-soft vegetables.  Based on a recipe from Nancie McDermott’s Real Vegetarian Thai. Read the rest of this entry »

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Seitanic red and white bean jambalaya

September 10, 2011 at 10:05 pm (Beans, B_minus (2.5 stars), Caribbean, Grains, Isa C. Moskowitz, Seitan)

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. Read the rest of this entry »

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Faux pho

August 30, 2011 at 9:32 am (East and SE Asia, Other, Seitan, soup, Tofu, unrated, Website / blog)

Derek’s student Scott is always raving about Phở, a vietnamese noodle soup. Since it’s never vegetarian, I’ve never really tried the real thing.  Wikipedia says that  one of the techniques that distinguishes it from other Asian noodle soups is that charred o­nions are added to the broth for color and flavor.  It also says that  the broth is typically made with charred ginger and spices including cinnamon, star anise, black cardamom, coriander seed, fennel seed, and cloves.  The soup is also typically served with lots of fresh garnishes, including scallions, white onions, cilantro, Thai basil, fresh Thai chili peppers, lemon or lime wedges, and bean sprouts.  Some people also add hoisin sauce or chili sauce.  Although traditional Pho is not vegetarian, I found a recipe for it in the Vietnamese Fusion book (by Chat Mingkwan) I borrowed from my mom, and I also found a recipe in a Vegetarian Resource Group article on vegetarian travel in Vietnam.   Oddly, though, the recipe in the Vietnamese Fusion book didn’t include any dried spices in the broth–just ginger and charred shallots.  So I made a mix of the two recipes.  My soup came out okay, but the broth needed a lot more spice.   Read the rest of this entry »

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No-onion curry sauce with cauliflower, chickpeas, and seitan

July 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm (Beans, B_minus (2.5 stars), Cruciferous rich, Indian, Other, Sauce/dressing, Seitan)

This is another recipe that I made last year when I was visiting my friend Sarah in Israel.  The original recipe is from the cookbook The Indian Vegetarian by Neelam Batra. Although I have nothing against onions, I like the idea that I can make a delicious, authentic curry sauce even if I’m all out of onions. Batra says that no-onion curry sauce needs extra tomatoes, yogurt, and spices.  Note that the sauce as written is quite thin.  Batra says it makes a lovely base for a vegetable soup, or you can add 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes to make it thicker. Read the rest of this entry »

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Seitan pepper steak

June 13, 2011 at 10:19 am (F (0 stars, inedible), Ron Pickarski, Seitan)

Derek chose this recipe from Ron Pickarski’s Friendly Foods.  Pickarski says it’s a vegetarian version of the classic recipe for “beef pepper steak,” whatever that is.  He recommends serving it over jerusalem artichoke pasta, flat spinach noodles, or quinoa noodles, but says that it’s also good over rice or mashed potatoes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Black bean and seitan tostadas

February 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Beans, breakfast, Derek's faves, Mexican & S. American, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Salads, Seitan)

I brought back a big stack of very fresh corn tortillas from Austin.  The first thing I did with them was throw together some bean and cheese tortillas one morning.  But something was wrong–neither Derek nor I liked them that much.  So I decided to try Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast recipe for black bean tostadas with seitan.   The black bean mixture turned out much better than my improvised version. Read the rest of this entry »

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Seitan, boiled

January 17, 2011 at 5:34 pm (Seitan, unrated, Website / blog)

There are lots of ways to make seitan.  First of all, you can make it from scratch (starting with just flour and water), or you can take a short cut and start with gluten flour.  I almost always do the latter.  Next, you have to decide what else (other than gluten and water) you want to put in your dough.  The options are endless.  Common additions are soy sauce, nutritional yeast, garlic, chickpea flower, paprika…  Third, you have to decide how to cook your seitan.  You can boil it, steam it (another try), braise it, saute it, or bake it.  For each method you have to decide what kind of broth or sauce to cook it in (if any).  Finally, you have to decide what to do with the final product.  Learning how to make seitan is a long and complicated journey, and I am just at the very beginning.  Today’s post is about my most recent attempt to make boiled seitan. Read the rest of this entry »

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Balsamic-roasted seitan over garlic mashed potatoes and parsnips

January 17, 2011 at 12:54 pm (A (4 stars, love, favorite), Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Peter Berley, Root vegetables, Seitan, Starches, Winter recipes)

I asked Derek to choose something to make for dinner, and he picked this menu out of the winter section of Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast.  It was a big undertaking!  The menus in this book usually take under an hour, but I had to first make my own seitan.  Even after the seitan was made, this menu took longer than an hour, mostly because peeling the shallots took forever.  Luckily Derek liked the dish a lot, and I enjoyed it as well, so all that effort wasn’t wasted.    Read the rest of this entry »

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Sesame noodles (peanut style)

February 21, 2010 at 10:17 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Chinese, Derek's faves, Isa C. Moskowitz, Nancie McDermott, Other, Pasta, Peter Berley, Seitan, Starches, Tofu, Website / blog)

I make Madhur Jaffrey’s sesame noodles all the time. It’s one of Derek’s favorite dishes. Tonight when I asked him what he wanted for dinner he said “chiliquiles!” but all my tortillas were frozen, so he went with his second choice–sesame noodles. I agreed, but didn’t tell him that I wasn’t going to make our standard recipe. I had recently come across a recipe for cold sesame noodles from Nancie McDermott’s Quick and Easy Chinese: 70 Everyday Recipes. I really like McDermott’s Real Vegetarian Thai cookbook, so I decided to give it a try. Read the rest of this entry »

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Barbecued seitan

August 8, 2009 at 11:51 am (Seitan, unrated, Website / blog)

I’ve tried grilling vegetables on a barbecue grill, but I’ve never liked what I’ve produced.  The vegetables are simply not that tasty.  I’ve had marvelous grilled veggies at restaurants, so I know it’s possible, but clearly I don’t know the secret.  I was invited to a barbecue yesterday, and struggling to come up with something vegetarian to bring.  I finally remembered this recipe for barbecued seitan “ribz”, on the fat free vegan blog, that I’d been meaning to try.

I made the recipe as specified, with tahini, except I didn”t have any smoked paprika, so I used regular sweet paprika and added in a little chipotle powder.  I made the dough then let it rest for an hour in the oiled pan while I went to the gym.  When I returned I tried to shape it to fit the pan.  I didn’t get it perfectly square, but it mostly filled my 8×8 pan.  I baked my seitan for 25 minutes, then I poured my 1 cup of (homemade) barbecue sauce on top, and let it sit in a tupperware until the barbecue.

At the barbecue I put it on the grill, but I didn’t realize how hot it was and by the time I checked it the seitan was already burning.  You’d think seitan would like the heat, but it’s actually pretty dry and cooks really fast, unlike zucchini which has more moisture.  I flipped the seitan when I saw that it was burning, and then proceeded to burn the other side!  The pieces on the edges didn’t burn as much and they were delicious.  The seitan had a more bready texture than most seitans, but was still pleasantly chewy.  I liked the texture and the flavor a lot.  The flavor was mostly from the barbecue sauce, but also from the seasoning in the seitan.  I’ll definitely make this again next time I have a barbecue to go to, and hopefully I won’t burn it again!

Besides the seitan I brough watermelon, and made mint lemonade, and zucchini, all of which were a hit.  I made the lemon/garlic/mint zucchini from Fresh Food Fast, and let them marinade in the dressing all day.  I cut the zucchini along the bias to try to make the pieces bigger and less likely to fall through the grill.  However, my zucchini were pretty small and we still lost quite a few of the end pieces.  Next time I would buy bigger zucchini for grilling.  The zucchini came out well.  The ones that were really blackened and soft didn’t have much zucchini flavor, and the ones that weren’t browned at all were undercooked, but the ones with just a few flecks of brown were perfect.  I could stil taste the marinade on them, but I think it would have been even better to throw the cooked zucchini back in the tupperware with the rest of the marinade and give it a quick toss before serving.

Update May 2010:  I made this recipe again, but in the oven not on the grill.  To keep the seitan from getting to dry, I put the sauce on top of it before putting it in the oven to bake.  That was a mistake.  I think the sauce held too much moisture in because the seitan took forever to cook.  It just stayed soft and doughy.

The next time I made it I cooked it for 20 minutes and then put the sauce on and cooked it for a while longer.  It was still a little soft though.  Next time I’d leave it for about 25 minutes in the oven and then add the sauce.

Everyone liked this recipe, but the texture wasn’t quite as good as when I grilled it.  I accidentally put 4 tsp. of smoked seitan in instead of 2 tsp., but I couldn’t tell the difference.

The first attempt:  I was trying to find a new seitan recipe, and decided to try this recipe for baked seitan from the Fat Free Vegan blog.  I didn’t have smoked paprika so I subbed in somed chipotle powder.  I used peanut butter as my nut butter.  I don’t have a grill so I baked the seitan according to Vegan Dad’s instructions (linked to from the blog article).  Unfortunately I put the seitan in the oven too early, and the other component of our meal was not ready when it was time to add the barbecue sauce.  I left the seitan in the oven on warm, which was a mistake as it got a little dried out and tough.  I still liked the texture, but I’ll need to try it again without overcooking it.

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Steamed seitan

January 4, 2009 at 3:42 pm (B_minus (2.5 stars), Seitan, Website / blog)

My friend Katrina, a kind hearted soul, sent me a care package containing Trader Joe’s thai lime and chili cashews, and a package of vital wheat gluten.  I searched around for a while before deciding how to use the much-pined-after flour, and ended up choosing a recipe for steamed seitan from Kittee’s blog Cake Maker to the Stars, a recipe based on a steaming technique developed by Julie Hasson.  The recipe calls for 3 cups of gluten, but I had just under 2 cups, so I cut the recipe by one third, even though Kittee explicitly says not to.  Also, I added in a spoonful of peanut butter because I was trying to finish off a jar and peanut butter makes everything better. Kittee says the recipe should yield a 3 pound loaf, but I only ended up with 1 pound 12 ounces of seitan, slightly less than the 2 pounds I was expecting.  I didn’t have any creole seasoning, so I read recipes for creole seasoning and created my own blend:

  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne (more if you want the seitan to be spicy)
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. basil

The spice blend makes just over the 1 Tbs. of creole seasoning that the recipe calls for.

The recipe was a bit more work than I expected, because caramelizing the onions took forever, and I only have a mini food processor so I had to process the onions in batches.  On the other hand, it did make a lot of seitan, and Kittee says it can be frozen.  The other difficulty I had with this recipe is that I used a folding steamer basket in my largest pot, but the basket’s legs are only about 1 inch tall, so I couldn’t add that much water without boiling the seitan.  I added water after 20 minutes but still ended up running out of water towards the end and burning my pan before I noticed that all the water was gone.  Next time I’ll make sure there’s a good 3 inches of water in my pan at the beginning, even if I have to construct a make-shift steamer.

The flavor of this seitan was okay, but a bit too strong for me.   I would prefer a more neutral seitan that could be used in many different types of dishes.   The texture was better than the flavor.  It wasn’t anything like boiled seitan–it was not spongy at all but denser and fattier tasting.  The texture actually reminded me a lot of the White Mountain Foods “wheat roast” we used to buy in Austin when I was a kid, which was made with only gluten, peanut butter, and nutritional yeast, but had a perfect texture and rich, nutty flavor.   I tried my seitan by itself, and it was okay but not exciting.  I also tried it on a sandwich, but I didn’t care for the flavoring that much.

Derek liked this seitan more than me.  He was so inspired that he even invented the “Seitanosaurus rex,” a dinosaur that resembles the velociraptor in Jurassic Park, but only eats (as Derek calls it) wheat meat.  Every morning he would transform himself into the Seitanosaurus rex, and rove excitedly around the kitchen searching for “wheat meat”.  Once he found it he would cut himself 4 slices (about 4 ounces) of seitan and sit down to a plate of “wheat meat and ketchup.”  I thought it looked pretty gross, but Derek obviously liked it, as he singlehandedly finished almost the entire pound and a half of seitan.  I asked Derek if the seitan tasted like meat, or tasted like creole anything, and he said no, not at all.  Then he ate another slice of seitan.

Rating: B-

Derek: A-

July 27, 2009, 2nd try:

This time I got my hands on enough gluten flour to make the full recipe.  I still made my own creole seasoning, but I didn’t add any peanut butter.  The log was huge, and didn’t really fit into the steaming pot I was planning on cooking it in, but I kind of folded it in to make it fit.  It grew as it steamed, however, and by the end had pushed the lid of the pot off.  Nonetheless, the texture seemed fine and the seitan seemed well cooked.  The texture is actually quite similar to the White Mountain wheat roast, and the flavor isn’t that different either.  It’s a little less fatty tasting, and it doesn’t have the darker crust since it’s steamed not baked, but it has that same string-cheese like texture without being spongy like seitan often is.  Derek said it wasn’t quite as good as the last time, because the flavor is more mild, but still he likes it a lot.

May 2010, 3rd try:

I made the full recipe and added a little peanut butter for flavoring.  This time I forgot to mix the onion/tomato/seasoning mixture with the water before mixing in the gluten flour.  I had the seasoning mixture in the bottom of a big bowl, I poured the dry ingredients on top, then poured on the water.  I totally forgot that as soon as you add the water the gluten flour goes from flour to long, tight strands of gluten.  It’s very difficult to work the seasoning into the gluten mass.  I tried kneading it together and got the seasoning paste distributed somewhat, but there were still lots of spots without any seasoning.  I shaped the dough into a fatter, squatter shape so it would fit in my steaming basket, and I steamed it for the full time.  The seitan around the edges was a little hard and dry.  Perhaps I should have steamed it for a slightly shorter time?  The result of my fiasco was actually pretty interesting.  The seitan was “marbled”.  The places where the seasoning paste were worked in were dark and a little fatty, and the places that hadn’t gotten any seasoning paste were paler and less fatty.  It gave the seitan a bit of a meaty look too it.  Derek said “Ah, you made me a pot roast!”  I don’t know about the meatiness, but I quite enjoyed it.  The flavors are more mild than the first time I made it, and more to my taste.

Rating: B

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Moussaka, vegan

December 17, 2008 at 8:29 am (Other, Seitan, Soymilk, unrated)

I took a seitan cooking class with Myra Kornfeld last year, at the New York Natural Gourmet Institute.  Each student started out making her own ball of seitan, from scratched.  Once our seitan balls were boiling in broth, each student was assigned one of four dishes.  I helped make seitan fajitas, essentially just big chunks of browned seitan mixed with grilled bell peppers and onions, with a little garlic and oregano for flavoring.  The dish didn’t excite me, nor did I care for the seitan-portobello sloppy joes.  I did enjoy the orange-glazed seitan cutlet, served over watercress, that I blogged about previously.  Surprisingly, my favorite of the four dishes was the seitan moussaka.  I’m not a fan of eggplant, or mashed potatoes, so moussaka is not usually something I care for.  But Kornfeld’s moussaka was delicious–savory, rich, flavorful, and satisfying.  I wanted to try making it myself, but the recipe has five sub-recipes and I never felt like spending so much time on one dish, especially one I wasn’t sure I would like.  When I was deciding what to make for Thanksgiving this year, I decided it was the perfect time to give it a try, despite the fact that it was really too late in the year for eggplant and zucchini.

I made the seitan from scratch, according to Kornfeld’s recipe.  I didn’t follow the instructions for what to put in the boiling broth, but still the seitan came out with a pretty good texture and a great flavor.  According to Kornfeld, her recipe is supposed to make 1.5 pounds of seitan, but I got out 2 pounds.  We ate half a pound and I used the rest in the “meat” layer of the moussaka.  The meat layer contains ground up seitan and portobello mushrooms, onions, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, canned tomatoes and lemon juice.  I really liked the dimension the cinnamon added, and I think other people did too–people were nibbling on the filling before I put it in the moussaka.

Along with the “meat” layer, there was a vegetable layer (grilled eggplant and zucchini sprinkled with pepper and thyme), and a mashed potato layer (potatoes, olive oil, soymilk, and lemon juice).  The top layer was composed of a vegan bechamel sauce (made with olive oil, flour, soymilk, and nutmeg), and then sprinkled with seasoned breadcrumbs.  I remember tasting the vegan bechamel sauce when I took the class, and I thought it tasted pretty nasty, but once it was on the moussaka it just added creaminess, no off flavors.

Although I followed Kornfeld’s recipe, in the final moussaka the ratio of mashed potatoes to seitan seemed way off.  Everyone kept asking “there’s seitan in this?  where?”  The dish kind of ended up as glorified mashed potatoes, with bits of string eggplant mixed in.  I’m not sure why the eggplant came out so stringy.  Could I have cut the slices too thin, over or under cooked them, or perhaps the eggplant was just old?

In any case, I didn’t really care for my version of the moussaka, but other people at Thanksgiving seemed to like it.  At least, the whole monstrous casserole got eaten (and it really was monstrous, since I tripled what was originally a pretty big recipe).

Given how much work and expense went into this recipe, and the less than stellar results, I don’t think I’ll be attempting to make moussaka again.  If anyone else has had better luck making vegan moussaka, however, please do let me know.

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Chickpea burgers

April 20, 2008 at 7:12 pm (Beans, C (2 stars, okay, edible), Isa C. Moskowitz, Quick weeknight recipe, Seitan)

My friend Katrina picked this recipe for chickpea burgers for our first food club challenge. It’s a recipe from Veganomicon that’s been all the range on the vegan blogosphere.  Below I’ve posted my comments, as well as those of the other members of our newly started cooking club.

My comments:

I made these chickpea burgers when visiting Derek in Germany.  As soon as I took my first bite I thought “these are seitan burgers, not really veggie burgers.” They had the distinctive chewy, stringy texture of undercooked seitan. I didn’t find it altogether unpleasant, but neither did it excite me. I thought the patties had little flavor: I couldn’t taste the sage or other dried herbs at all. I cooked the first four with 1 Tbs. of oil in a large skillet, and Derek and I thought that the crispiest patties were the best, so the second batch of 4 I cooked with 2 Tbs. of oil. They turned out oilier, but not any better, I thought. I could see how someone who really likes greasy food would like these patties cooked with a lot of oil though. I only used 3/4 of the soy sauce as I was worried they’d be too salty. With 3/4 they were fine.

I like that the recipe is novel: I’ve never seen a veggie burger recipe that calls for gluten flour before. However, I would have preferred more chickpea flavor and less seitan texture, so if I make these again, I think I will try replacing half of the gluten flour with besan (chickpea flour). I may also try adding different seasonings to make them Indian tasting, or perhaps Mexican spices.

I don’t think these would work very well on a hamburger bun with all the fixings, because they are a bit dry and quite starchy, and bland. I think they would be better served as Heidi Swanson suggests serving veggie burgers: use the burger as the bun, slice each one in half and fill it with tomato and lettuce and whatever other toppings you like to add to your veggie burgers. Or just serve them as I did: with a creamy, spicy sauce.

My rating: B-

Derek’s response:

The first time I made them Derek commented that they tasted like cheap veggie burgers, kind of like boca burgers. He said the texture was soft and cardboardy. When I objected that cardboard is the opposite of soft, he said “like wet cardboard.” Then he asked for a second one, and he ate half of one of mine as well. He claims that he ate so many of them because they were a good carrier for the sauce I made, which was yogurt mixed with amarillo pepper sauce and lemon juice. “Aaaah, lemon juice,” he says. I had doubled the recipe and stored half of the dough in the fridge for two days. When I made the second batch, Derek said they had gotten chewier and stretchy, but the flavor was still fairly bland. He gives the recipe a C+.

Katrina’s comments, as transcribed by me (Katrina broke her thumb so I offered my typing services. This is only approximate however–Katrina was much more eloquent in real life.)

I made the mistake of grinding the chickpeas too finely–I wished there were bigger pieces of chickpeas. I would almost consider using more chickpeas and grinding some up and leaving some in chunks. I also liked Rose’s idea of using some chickpea flour. I thought they had an interesting texture and the idea was really nice, to have a bean burger that holds together and isn’t just beans and rice. But the taste wasn’t that exciting. I felt like they needed some more seasoning of some sort. You could probably go any way with it, Indian spices, Mexican spices–you just have to do something. I think it would be good with parsley or cilantro or something. I’ve seen online you could use it sort of like a parmigiana topped with a tomato sauce, and it would probably work pretty well with that as it has kind of a bready texture. You could probably even include some vegetables in it if you wanted. I don’t know if it was the high gluten content or what, but they just felt like a rock in my stomach. It was just a really dense food, which was kind of weird. I would certainly make something along these lines again, something with beans and gluten and seasoning made into some kind of pan-fried burgers, but I wouldn’t follow the recipe. I’d like to try it with a different type of bean as well.

Katrina said she used all the soy sauce but low sodium, and the salt level was fine.

Susan’s comments:

I doubled the recipe and made them into round burger shapes instead of cutlets which made 9 instead of 6. It is necessary to cook them on medium or they will burn. I used 1 tsp of oil per 3 to fry them in.

I thought the texture was good and they held together very well. There was too much sage taste for me and I think I would use something else next time.

Hanaleah said they were okay when she took a bite, but then came back and finished the whole piece.
I made them for a potluck. They all got eaten. This is a good thing, no? They liked the texture but not much taste. They needed a bun, tomatos, mayo, onions, etc everyone said. And when I ate mine 3 hours after I made them, you couldn’t tell that they had sage. It disappearred? At our potluck there was a red pepper salsa that was delicious and when eaten with the burgers helped immensel

Kathy’s comments

Chickpea Success!!! 🙂

A few of us here in Geneva attempted the Chickpea Patty recipe with a bunch of modifications, and it was a definite success. I’ve cc’d the co-creators/tasters and my chickpea consultant, spoons.

First: what will we do with the cutlets? I was talking to Spoons about this on the phone, and he was confused about why we were making chickpea patties in the first place — why not just make chickpeas, themselves, with good seasonings? Then we decided that one of the only reasons we could think of to make chickpea patties instead of chickpeas was that chickpeas would probably fall through a barbecue grill. So, I decided to go towards real chickpea burgers — the kind of thing that you could bring to a BBQ and toss on the grill.

So, how did we change the original recipe?

We made a double batch, which turned into 8 burgers.

We replaced half of the gluten with chickpea flour, and made sure to knead it lightly. We kneaded about one minute after it came together, not too vigorously. Toyoko, who had made this same recipe in Geneva before, blamed her patties’ too-dense texture on gluten + too much kneading.

We left half the chickpeas whole, or barely crushed, to add some more chunks. I wouldn’t do it that way again, since the burgers sometimes had fault-lines develop near the chickpeas, and I would be afraid the patties might break up. I might chop the unground half of the chickpeas about as finely as we chopped the garlic (not *that* finely).

We left out:
# 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
# 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
# 1/4 teaspoon dried rubbed sage

but put in a bunch of paprika and some soy sauce, and a drop of lemon oil (which like zest, but what I use when I forgot to buy a lemon). For vegetable broth, we used Veggie “Better than Bouillon” which has a very savory flavor.

Then, we cooked the burgers in a really hot cast iron skillet with some oil.

You can see the result!

There is a patty on the left, so you can see how it looks, and then another inside the bun. We topped the burgers with carmelized onions, and usual burger stuff like lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, ketchup. Next time I might put the carmelized onions INSIDE the burgers.

The other things on the plate are chickpea fries (delicious!) and a yogurt-cucumber salad that went really well with the chickpeas. We had dates, pitted with almond butter inside, for dessert, and those were excellent too. 🙂

With these modifcations, the taste and texture of the chickpea burger were both great. The taste was mostly hummus-like (chickpeas and garlic and paprika!) and the texture wasn’t at all boca-burger or seitan-ish. It held together pretty well.

I had some leftovers the next day, warmed up in a pan with some veggies and sausage, and it was OK but certainly more bread-like as it was reheated with steamy veggies. I think the hot searing of a skillet/broiler/grill helps the patties seem more protein-y and less bread-y.

So, your suggestions worked out well! I would definitely make this again, especially as a summer-time BBQ food.

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Chili sin Carne al Mole

March 13, 2008 at 11:29 pm (Beans, Fall recipes, Isa C. Moskowitz, Seitan, unrated, Winter recipes)

I’m usually pretty loyal to my mom’s Texas Tofu Chili, but I was in the mood for chili and didn’t have any frozen tofu, so I decided to try this recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. The introduction to this recipe provides a very precise description of the kind of chili they were going for: Rather than the bland, chunky, bean and vegetable stew that most vegetarians try to pass off as chili, they wanted “a dark red broth, large chunks of meat, accompanied only by a few bits of onions, chiles, and spices.” Now, that sounds like my kind of chili! Read the rest of this entry »

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Simple Savory Seitan

February 17, 2008 at 6:20 pm (My brain, Seitan, unrated)

Last night I pulled some seitan out of the freezer. I’m not positive but I think I made it using the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. It was quite spongey and wet, so I let it drain in a colander for a while, then sliced it into very thin slices. I dredged the slices in chickpea flour (besan), then lightly pan-fried them in my cast iron skillet. While they were cooking I sprinkled them with thyme, lots of black pepper, and a touch of cinnamon. I didn’t add any salt as the broth they were cooked in was very salty. The final seitan was a little crispy on the outside but still moist on the inside, and had a great savory flavor. I don’t think I would have been able to tell that there was thyme or cinnamon on it if I hadn’t already known. The flavors combined nicely with the chickpea flour to create a good savory base, without any one flavor being dominant.

A few of the fatter pieces still tasted sponge-y in the centre, and the seasonings hadn’t penetrated, so I put them back on the pan and let them cook a bit longer, pressing down on the pieces with my spatula to get the water out. That seemed to fix the problem.

I enjoyed snacking on the seitan, but haven’t figured out what I’m going to do with it yet. I’m thinking of eating it for dinner with brown rice and broccoli and some kind of light sauce. It will be a simple dinner but tasty.

A few years ago my friend Spoons adapted a Paula Wolfert Moroccan recipe for chicken, turning it into a tofu dish. He used very finely minced onions, lots of cinnamon and black pepper, dates, and red wine vinegar. The dish was served with couscous (of course). I really liked the cinnamon and black pepper combination in a savory recipe, and vowed to try it myself. I’ve tried making a similar tofu dish a few times but mine never came out quite as well as Spoons’s. I will keep trying, but I mention Spoons’s creation here because it was his tofu dish that inspired me to season my seitan with cinnamon today. I thought about adding some red wine as well, as called for in the recipe for Ethiopian Seitan in Vegan with a Vengeance, but after tasting the seitan I decided not to add anything; I liked it too much to risk screwing it up.

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Seitan O’Greatness

December 31, 2007 at 2:17 pm (C (2 stars, okay, edible), My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Seitan, Website / blog)

I don’t read many food blogs regularly; I’m have more of a search-for-an-ingredient-or-recipe approach to browsing the blogosphere. So I missed the whole Seitan O’Greatness epidemic that apparently raged through the vegan blogging world like influenza through a chicken factory farm. I first heard about it when browsing at Isa Chandra’s blog, and apparently since then the recipe has continued to fell every innocent vegan blogger it touches. What is Seitan O’greatness you’re probably thinking. It’s a seitan made from vital wheat gluten, mixed with lots of spices and other ingredients, rolled into a log shape, and baked in tin foil. What comes out looks an awful lot like salami, at least to someone who never looks at salami without squinting and crossing her eyes (to make it appear blurry and not as distinctly dead-piggish).

I made a version that combines a few different bloggers’ recipes, as well as my own experience with marinades for frozen tofu.

Dry ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups vital wheat gluten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs paprika
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch allspice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground fennel

Wet ingredients

  • 3/4 cups water
  • 4 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke

Preheat oven to 325°. In a small mixing bowl mix the dry ingredients. Whisk together the liquid ingredients in a large mixing bowl until the peanut butter is completely dissolved. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well, then knead for just a minute or two.

Form into a log (6”-8″ long), and wrap tightly in foil, twisting the ends. Bake for 90 minutes. Eat immediately, or unwrap and let it cool, then wrap it in foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate.

My Notes:

Even with just a pinch of cinnamon, when I smelled the dough it smelled strongly of cinnamon, so I was surprised that the cinnamon wasn’t detectable in the final product. I couldn’t taste the peanut butter distinctly either. I was worried that my accidental use of 2 Tbs. paprika rather than 2 tsp. would be problematic, and though the seitan did have a strong smoky taste, it wasn’t overpowering. I might cut it to 4 tsp. next time though.

The texture was unlike any seitan I’ve made before–more breadlike, with a very fine and delicate crumb. The texture and flavor actually reminded me a lot of those fake vegan hot dogs you can buy at the grocery store (perhaps because of the smoke seasoning?). After letting the seitan cool the outside became a bit dry and tough—I liked it better more moist, as it was right when it came out of the oven.

I enjoyed snacking on it, but beware, it’s way more filling than it looks (it’s basically pure protein). I sliced it thinly and put it on a sandwich with avocado and julienned carrots, and it was reasonably tasty but a bit dry.

Derek said the flavor was pleasant, and not bad for a sandwich filling, but that the texture wasn’t quite right–too chewy. It would be better if it were a little tougher, like salami. It should tear. Also, he objected strongly to the name: “It should be called Seitan Salami, after all, it’s not that great.”  He ate the seitan if I served it to him, but he never asked for it.

Other versions online include nutritional yeast, red pepper flakes, mustard seeds, and almond butter. I’m looking forward to playing with the seasonings to optimize the flavor.


Derek: B-
Rose: B-

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Jerk Seitan

July 28, 2007 at 9:18 pm (B_minus (2.5 stars), Caribbean, Isa C. Moskowitz, Seitan)

After the disaster of the jerk tempeh from Some Like it Hot, I was both excited and nervous about trying another jerk recipe. This recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance was quite different in technique though, so I decided to give it a shot. I’m trying to make all the seitan recipes from vegan with a vengeance.

I don’t have the energy to post the recipe right now, so I’ll just post my comments. I’ll come back and post the details if I make it again.

The sauce is interesting–you basically put all the ingredients into the food processor and blend it into kind of a watery paste. The sauce was pretty good tasting, fresh, and full of caribbean flavors. The recipe calls for you to saute some green peppers, then add the seitan cutlets and fry them for another 10 minutes or so, then add the sauce. This seems odd, since the peppers are getting totally overcooked while the seitan browns. I’d either take the peppers out before adding the seitan, or add them at the end when the seitan is almost done. The sauce is pretty powerful stuff–I liked it, but found that I didn’t really want to eat the seitan cutlets on their own–too strong tasting. I liked it okay on a sandwich, but I feel like I didn’t quite find the right combination of foods to eat this recipe with. Isa suggests serving it with sweet potatoes and greens I think, which sounds pretty good.

Derek’s comment, solicited with difficulty: “That’s some tasty shit. I’d have it again.”

Rating: B
Derek: B+

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Seitan Piccata

July 28, 2007 at 9:09 pm (B_minus (2.5 stars), Italian, Other, Seitan, Soymilk)

As I’ve said in the past, I really want to learn how to make the seitan in white wine sauce that they serve at Blossom. I found a recipe for seitan piccata from Candle 79, on chowhound. I found a somewhat different recipe for seitan piccata from candle cafe on We decided to go with the first recipe, but I might try the second version next time as it’s much lower fat.

* 6 seitan cutlets (mine were a bit small so I used 8, from about 1.5 balls of homemade seitan)
* Whole-wheat flour for dredging (about 3/4 cup?)
* 4 Tbs. olive oil
* 1/4 cup chopped shallots
* 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion (I used red)
* 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (I used one large clove)
* 2 tablespoons drained capers
* 1/2 cup dry white wine
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth (I used homemade broth, salted)
* 2 tablespoons soy buttery spread (soy margarine) (I used earth balance)
* 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
* 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I omitted this)
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Dredge seitan cutlets in whole-wheat flour, shaking off any excess.
2. In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over high heat. When oil is hot, sauté cutlets until crisp and golden brown, about 30 seconds per side. Place each cutlet on an individual plate or arrange them all on a platter.
3. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the sauté pan and return to high heat. Add shallots, onion, garlic, and capers, and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in wine and lemon juice, and cook 3 to 5 minutes more.
4. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 1 minute to combine flavors. Whisk in soy spread, parsley, salt, and pepper. Pour over seitan cutlets and serve at once.

My Notes

When you saute the seitan it gets crispy, but I really wanted tender, delicate seitan, so I think I’d omit this step next time, and save 2 Tbs. of olive oil to boot. I’d also probably just use 1 Tbs. of olive oil to saute the onions, or possibly slightly less. I left the salt out since the vegetable broth, capers, and buttery spread were all salted, and found that the dish was plenty salty. With all 6 Tbs. of fat we found this a bit too rich tasting. But the basic flavor was pretty good–lemony but not overpowering, the parsley added freshness and a lovely color, the shallots added a pretty touch of pink to the sauce, and the caper flavor really dominated. It wasn’t perfect, but nice.

When asked to comment Derek replied “It was what I expected, no more, no less.”

Oh, another note about the seitan. I wanted non-asian tasting seitan for this dish, so I used very little soy sauce in the broth, and I thought the seitan came out tasting quite nice, and not asian. The seitan was much lighter than normal, but still had good flavor. I cooked it in a broth of carrots, celery, black pepper, bay leaves, etc.–the kinds of things that I’d normally put in vegetable broth, plus 1 bouillon cube (enough for 1/2 cup of water it says on the package). I saved the broth, and I think it will make an excellent matzoh ball soup.

Rating: B
Derek: B+

Update July 31, 2010:

It’s been three years since I’ve made seitan piccata, and I decided to try it again, but this time I used the recipe from the Millenium Cookbook.  The recipe is all over the internets.

Taken from The Millennium Cookbook – Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine (see the original recipe in the cookbook)

Makes 6 servings

Herb Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/3 cup polenta
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 6 servings (1 1/2 pounds) marinated seitan, cut into medallions
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (optional)

Piccata Sauce:

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 6 paper-thin lemon slices
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups dry white wine (you can use non-alcoholic wine)
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot, dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold water
  • Thin lemon slices and minced fresh parsley or chives for garnish

In a shallow bowl, combine all the ingredients for the herb crust. In another shallow bowl, combine the soy milk and mustard. Dredge the seitan with the crust mixture, dip in the soy milk mixture, then dredge again in the crust mixture. Cook the seitan in a dry nonstick pan over medium-high heat until lightly brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.  (Or saute in the oil.)  Keep warm in low oven.

To make the sauce: Wipe out the pan and place it over medium heat. Add the garlic and toast until lightly browned. Add the lemon slices, the remaining sauce ingredients. Boil until the volume is reduced by almost half. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook until thickened. Serve the hot sauce over seitan. Garnish with more lemon slices and parsley.

My notes:

I followed the sauce recipe carefully, except that when the instructions said “add the rest of the sauce ingredients” I added them all, including the arrowroot sludge.  Whoops!  I had to add more arrowroot in the end to get the sauce to thicken.

The sauce tasted truly terrible–way too lemon-y and acidic, and even bitter.  What did I do wrong?  I compared the Millenium recipe to the Candle Cafe recipe above, and two different recipes from Cook’s Illustrated:

Recipe Millennium Candle Cafe Cook’s Illustrated CI Light
Fat none 4 Tbs. olive oil + 4 Tbs. margarine 6 Tbs. butter none
Lemon juice 8 Tbs. + 4 slices lemon 4 Tbs. 8 Tbs. + sliced lemon 2 Tbs + 1/2 lemon, sliced
Liquid 2 cups white wine + 3 Tbs. water 1 cup white wine + 1 cup veg. broth 2 cups stock 1.5 cups stock + 2 Tbs. milk

Okay, clearly I’m not crazy.    The Cook’s Illustrated recipe uses the same amount of lemon and liquid, but also adds 6 Tbs. of butter to tone down the acid.  And still, on the CI forums many people say that they found the sauce too lemony, and some people complain about bitterness (which presumably comes from the pith in the boiled lemon slices).  Some posters suggest simmering the liquid rather than boiling it, to prevent the bitterness from being extracted from the pith.  The CI light recipe doesn’t use any added fat, but only calls for 2 Tbs. of lemon juice.  The candle cafe recipe uses half the lemon juice and adds 8 Tbs. of fat!

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Orange-Glazed Seitan with Watercress

July 14, 2007 at 7:28 pm (C (2 stars, okay, edible), Dark leafy greens, Other, Seitan, Spring recipes)

At Candle Cafe, and more recently at Blossom in New York, I’ve had these marvelous seitan cutlets which are thin and tender and come in some sort of great tasting sauce. I really want to know how to make this type of dish, but my seitan in the past has come out tasting more asian, and not nearly as tender. So I decided to take a seitan class with Myra Kornfeld at the Natural Gourmet Cooking School in New York. Unfortunately, we didn’t make anything quite like I was hoping for, but this was the recipe that was most similar to what I’ve had at restaurants. You have to use homemade seitan for this recipe, because you need large cutlets not small chunks.

  • 1 pound seitan sliced into 1/4-inch cutlets
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup shoyu
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sake, mirin, or sherry
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup unbleached white flour
  • 2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 bunches watercress, washed and thick stems removed
  • 1 Tbs. sesame seeds
  • a few drops of sesame oil
  • 1/2 lemon
  1. Pepper the seitan cutlets. Pour the orange juice into a medium skillet. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and and simmer rapidly, uncovered, to let the liquid evaporate. You don’t need to stir. Reduce until you have 1/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Add the orange juice to a small bowl along with the shoyu, water, and sake. Add the scallions to the bowl.
  2. Place the flour on a plate. Heat a large heavy-bottomed non-stick skillet on high. Add 2 Tbs. of the oil. Immediately press each cutlet into the flour, making sure both sides are completely dusted, and quickly add the seitan to the pan. Turn the heat to medium, and saute 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until both sides are lightly golden. Divide the seitan onto four warmed plates. Add the remaining tsp. of oil plus the garlic cloves to the pan saute about thirty seconds until lightly browned. Add the orange juice marinate to the pan (be careful, it will steam quite a bit) and let cook and thicken about one minute. Pour over the seitan.
  3. Add the watercress to the pan, and cook until just wilted, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat. Stir in the sesame seeds, and add a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Drizzle a few drops of sesame oil over the watercress and mound the watercress on the side of the seitan. Squeeze some lemon over each cutlet and serve.

My Notes:

I liked this dish when we had it at the class, but I didn’t love it. The sauce certainly wasn’t as good as the ones at candle cafe and Blossom. I decided to take my extra seitan and make it for Derek and his mom. I didn’t have coconut oil, so I just used olive. I’m guessing she uses coconut because she wants to heat it extremely hot, and doesn’t want to denature the oil. So I didn’t get my oil as hot, and I only used 4 tsp. rather than the 6 tsp. called for, and for less seitan (I only had about 2/3 of the amount in the recipe). My seitan didn’t get as browned, but I’m not sure that made a big difference to the taste. My sauce, however, tasted a bit different than the one at the class–I think it’s that we used sherry and they used mirin. I preferred the lighter mirin flavor I think. We used reduced sodium soy sauce, but I still found the sauce a bit over-salted. The idea of serving the cutlet over watercress was quite nice, but we thought the recipe could use about twice as much watercress, or maybe watercress + another green if 4 bunches of watercress is too expensive. I tried to present this dish as Myra did, laying the cutlet over a mound of watercress, and drizzling it with the sauce, but it came out looking pretty terrible. Presentaiton is clearly something I’ll have to work on if I make it again. Derek really enjoyed this dish–he had thirds.

I’m a bit mystified why the recipe calls for you to reduce the orange juice, then add water. I’m going to email Myra and ask her. It seems like you could just use orange juice concentrate, but maybe the cooking stage makes it taste more carmelized?

The other seitan dishes we made in my class were

  • seitan-portobello mushroom sloppy joes, which I didn’t care for–the seasoning seemed off
  • avocado cucumber jicama salsa was sweet, crunchy, and tasty
  • seitan fajitas–this was a pretty standard dish of grilled peppers and onions, with the seitan added, and a little oregano and garlic for flavor. It was served with a creamy avocado sauce on tortillas. It was very tasty, but I’m not sure how much the seitan added. It would have been tasty with just the sauce and veggies.
  • moussaka–this recipe has about 10 million steps, and I was pretty skeptical, because I’m not an eggplant fan, or a mashed potato fan. But I loved the dish! I even liked the eggplant layer! The top of the moussaka was covered with a vegan bechamel sauce, which I tasted and thought it tasted pretty awful–nothing like a bechamel sauce, too much soy and sweet taste. However, I didn’t notice the weird flavor in the final dish at all, it just tasted creamy and rich and savory and delicious.

If I make any of these dishes in the future I’ll type up the recipes.

If you can find early watercress, and still have access to late winter oranges, this makes a nice recipe for late Spring.

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Seitan Stroganoff

July 14, 2007 at 5:22 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Isa C. Moskowitz, Pasta, Seitan, Soymilk, Starches)

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. Read the rest of this entry »

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Okra and Onions

September 8, 2006 at 10:14 am (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Indian, Madhur Jaffrey, Quick weeknight recipe, Seitan, Summer recipes, Tempeh, Vegetable dishes)

This is a simple but tasty Pakistani dish based on a recipe in the cookbook From Curries to Kabobs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail by Madhur Jaffrey.  The original recipe was tasty but very oily and salty.  I reduced the oil and salt and increased the vegetable quantities.

Makes 2 main-dish servings and 4 side-dish servings.

  • 1 pound fresh okra, cleaned and very dry, with tops removed and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 Tbs. oil
  • 2 small red onions (about 3 ounces each), sliced into fine half-rings
  • 2 tsp. whole coriander seeds
  • 1 whole hot dried red chili, broken in half, seeds removed
  • 1/2 tsp. fine salt or scant 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped cilantro
  1. Pour the oil into a 12-inch skillet and set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the okra.  Fry, stirring frequently, for about 7 minutes, or until the okra is very lightly browned on all sides. Add the onions. Stir and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the onions, too, begin to brown.
  2. While the vegetables cook make the spice mixture: Put the coriander seeds and chili in a clean coffee or spice grinder and grind to a coarse powder (or use a mortar and pestle). Add the turmeric and salt and pulse once to mix.
  3. When the onions are ready, add the spice mixture. Reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring for another 5 minutes. Taste for a balance of seasonings and sprinkle the cilantro over the top.

My notes

I used 2 Tbs. of oil (rather than Jaffrey’s 3 Tbs.) and 12 ounces of okra (as Jaffrey’s recipe calls for), and found the finished dish a bit too greasy.  Also, I think 3/4 of a pound of okra is not quite enough, and I might increase it to a whole pound. Likewise, a 3 ounce onion is tiny. I used 6 ounces. I also found 3/4 tsp. kosher salt to be a bit too much. Derek liked it of course, but I thought the amount of salt could be cut slightly, to slightly more than a 1/2 tsp.

The okra was starting to burn even with regular stirring after only 7 minutes, so rather than waiting the full 10 minutes Jaffrey recommends, I added the onions, and only cooked them for about 3 more minutes. The okra was a bit crisp–Derek and I both thought the texture was quite nice, certainly preferable to the cooked-to-death texture of bhindi in typical Indian restaurants.

Overall, we really enjoyed this dish. Halving the okra lengthwise was a new idea for me, and it made a very pretty presentation, with the plump okra seeds getting their 5 minutes of fame. The flavors were simple but very tasty, and authentic tasting. This is certainly a dish I’ll be adding to my repertoire.

Rating: B+
Derek: A-

Update August 18, 2009:  I tried adding 6 ounces of thinly sliced tempeh to this recipe, to make it more of a one pot meal.  I heated 2 Tbs. of peanut oil, then threw the tempeh in before the okra.  Unfortunately, the tempeh immediately soaked up all the oil, so when I added the okra it didn’t cook very well. My 12-inch skillet was extremely full (certainly not one layer), and the vegetables touching the bottom were burning and nothing else was cooking.  I had to add another 2 tsp. of oil to get it to cook.  Still, a number of the larger okra pieces never got cooked.  Because of the extra bulk from the tempeh I increased the coriander amount to 1 Tbs., and used 2 dried chiles, and 3/4 tsp. kosher salt.  It was quite salty (next time I’d use 2/3 tsp. kosher salt), and just a tad powdery.  The combination of the tempeh and okra was okay–it certainly looked pretty, but the tempeh wasn’t all that flavorful.  If I try this again, I will definitely cut the amount of tempeh and okra down, or cook it in two batches, and add the okra not the tempeh first.

Update Oct 3, 2009:  I used 2 Tbs. of olive oil, a full pound of okra, 3 oz. onions, and 3/4 tsp. kosher salt.  The okra was oily but not too greasy, and just a tad too salty for me (perfect for Derek).  When I added the onion I also added about 1 ounce of julienned seitan (Kittee’s).  Unlike the last tempeh fiasco, the seitan didn’t really effect the recipe.  The flavors didn’t blend, exactly, but the seitan tasted fine.  If I wanted a real one-pot dinner I might add more seitan next time:  maybe 3-4 ounces.  Other than being just a tad salty, and not having enough onions, I think the recipe was close to perfect. The only change I might make next time is to sprinkle on a little amchoor powder at the end.  I think this would make a lovely dinner with a side of dal and some raita.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1/4 recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 117
Total Fat 7.1g
Saturated Fat 0.9g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 303mg
Carbohydrate 12.9g
Dietary Fiber 4.7g
Sugars 4g
Protein 3.1g
Vitamin A 11% Vitamin C 72%
Calcium    11% Iron 7%

The macro breakdown:  49% from fat, 10% protein, 41% carbs.

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