Chili con Not-Carne. #Vegan Recipe

First, I know you all want an update on Buddy, the dog that Alan found wandering the streets near our house. Well, he is still with us. We put posters around the neighborhood and at Starbucks, kept our eyes out for signs on the street corners, made a few phone calls, but nobody has claimed him.

Which is okay by us. By this time he has really become part of the family. Our pack is still a little hesitant and jealous, but they’re getting better. I expect they’ll be playing soon. Buddy can use the doggy door, is learning how to walk on a leash (he didn’t seem to know how the first day!), and is getting used to being a canine vegetarian. He’s got an appointment on Monday for a check up and neutering, and we’ll get him a proper halter and leash this weekend. And a bath. Definitely a bath.

Another reason I love him already. I think he looks a little like the Traveler’s Insurance dog, one of my favorite commercial dogs of all time. Okay, just a little, but it’s still my favorite and I take any excuse to watch it.

So we’re back up to a six-pack again. It was only a matter of time. Now, on to the chili.

I know that chili is not a meal that is usually associated with summer time and warmer temperatures. I can imagine snuggling up around a fire, wrapped in a comforter, holding a hot bowl of chili to warm me up even more. Well, not really, I live in the desert and I haven’t used my fireplace since I’ve owned my house, but you get the idea.

The concept came, though, when I wanted a quick meal after cross country practice the other night, and upon reviewing the contents of my cupboards, a decided to try using the seitan that I had on hand to create this Chili con Not-Carne.  The meal took about 45 minutes to prepare, including cooking time, but you can let it simmer for a longer time if you’d like, which would make it even more flavorful.

Chili con Not-Carne

Chili con Not-Carne

Ingredients
(note: I made a small batch because of the quantity of seitan I had on hand and because it was just my husband and me. You can easily double the recipe for a family or bigger crowd.)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Serrano Chile, seeded and chopped (I never seed my chiles because I love the “kick” but it is up to you. You can also use a milder chili if you prefer)
1 cup or 1 package seitan, cut into small cubes
1 28 ounce can tomatoes
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons Sriracha (the more the spicier!)
2 15 ounce cans beans, drained and rinsed (I used 1 kidney beans, one white beans)
8 ounces beer (I only had non-alcoholic in my fridge and that worked just fine)
1/2 cup corn
Avocado and Cilantro for garnish (optional)

Directions
Preheat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft (about 5 minutes).

Add the seitan and chile. Cook until the seitan starts to brown.

Add the tomatoes (along with their liquid), Sriracha, chili powder, cumin, paprika and salt. When the mixture starts to bubble, add the beans and stir. Add the beer slowly, stirring as you do so, scraping up anything that may have stuck to the pan. Bring to a boil then stir in the corn. Reduce heat to low. You can simmer anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple hours (you may have to add more liquid if you simmer longer, so don’t finish that beer).

Serve in individual bowls with a few slices avocado and some cilantro sprinkled on top.

Seitan is one of my favorite meat substitutes. It is made from wheat gluten. You can make this chili without the seitan for a gluten free meal (make sure that you use gluten free beer, or substitute water or vegetable broth). It is a great dish to prepare as you’re making the transition to veg’n, or to enjoy for a Meatless Monday, because it is quick, with easy to find ingredients, and has a rich, meaty flavor.

If you like seitan, here are two recipes: Seitan Burritos and Seitan Skillet Meal. Oops, I almost forgot my all time favorite, Rice Salad with Creamy Tarragon Dressing.

So that opens the question: If you are vegan or vegetarian, do you enjoy meat substitutes? If you occasionally go meat-free, do you just skip the meat or use a sub? What are your favorites? (Yes, I know that many are processed, but we’re talking taste here.)

Southwest Salad with Black Beans, Avocado, and Quinoa

A few days ago, I was on twitter and I clicked through to an Instagram photo of a Southwestern Quinoa Salad.

As you know, I love cooking with quinoa, and I love spicy food. At the time, I didn’t look up the recipe, but it planted an idea in my head. I decided to make my own version. I’ve even posted a recipe for black bean and corn salad before (sans quinoa), but I didn’t look at that either.

This salad would be a perfect side dish for a 4th of July barbecue (you can grill up some of my Tempeh Burgers and have a cruelty free Independence Day!). If you’re a “big salad” fan, you can do like Alan and I did and enjoy the salad as a one-dish meal.

Ingredients
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 Can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup corn
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 Serrano chili, seeded (optional)
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
pepper to taste
1 avocado, chopped

Directions
Prepare the quinoa according to package directions. Allow to cool, or chill for two hours. Combine the quinoa, beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, chili, and cilantro and toss. Squeeze the lime juice over the salad. Add the olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper and toss again lightly. Add the avocado last, tossing it in gently into the salad. Serve at room temperature, or allow the salad to chill for an hour.

Alan surprised me by having a second serving of this salad, and we both agreed it was a “keeper” (which means I must write the recipe down immediately, before I forget).

Because this recipe was inspired by another, even though I didn’t even look at the recipe before creating mine, I want to share the original recipe with you. Interestingly, Sylvia from Frolic through Life was inspired by a Whole Foods salad that she thought sounded tasty.

Are you having a 4th of July barbecue? Any other plans? With the holiday falling on a Wednesday, it keeps me closer to home. How about you?

Recipe: Vegan Shawarma

I’ve told the story of my love for Shawarma before. Before I was vegan, it was my favorite “fast” food.  When I first tried to make a vegan version, I used Gardein Chik’n Strips and it was very tasty. Last night I wanted to try it with seitan, and I think it was even better. I took it a step further and made my own hummus, too. I decided I need to write up the recipe properly (in my previous post, it was “add a cup of this, and a teaspoon of that.”), so that it would be easy to follow and be consistently delicious.

Vegan Shawarma

Ingredients:

One package (or one cup if homemade) seitan or chicken substitute, cut into strips
One Tablespoon lemon juice
One teaspoon Garam Masala
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/4 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup soy yogurt
One Tablespoon Malt Vinegar
Two Cloves Garlic, minced

Method:

In a small bowl, sprinkle the seitan with the garam masala, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Add the lemon juice and toss to mix. In a separate bowl, combine the yogurt, vinegar, and garlic. Add the “meat” mixture and stir together. Marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes, or up to overnight.

Preheat Broiler. Spray broiler pan lightly with cooking spray. Spread seitan in a single layer on the pan. Broil until lightly browned, then turn over and repeat on the other side.

Serve with warmed pita bread, hummus (recipe below) or shawarma sauce (recipe below). (Can also be served with vegan tzatziki or tahini sauce.) Top with tomato salad (recipe below).

Hummus

One can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
Two Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Olive Oil (plus another tablespoon to drizzle over the top)
One teaspoon Tahini
Two cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process on high until creamy and smooth.

HummusShawarma Sauce

Three Tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
Two Tablespoons Rice vinegar
Two cloves garlic, minced
One Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend all the ingredients until smooth.

Tomato Salad

One small tomato, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup cucumber, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
Two Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine the vegetables. Mix the rest of the the ingredients and pour over vegetables. Toss lightly.

Rice Salad with Creamy Tarragon Dressing

When my husband, Alan, and I were first dating, long before we were vegetarians, we used to love a restaurant in Palm Desert called Kacoon. It had an eclectic menu, kind of before its time, using fresh, local ingredients. My favorite dish was called the Risi Salad, which was huge, made with brown rice, fresh vegetables, chicken, and a wonderful, creamy dressing.

They also served the salad with something called ‘Seitan’ instead of the chicken, which at that time I had never heard of. Back then, even though I ate meat, I tried (I thought) to eat healthfully. When I learned that seitan was a vegetarian meat substitute made from wheat, I was excited to try it. I was happy that I did, and after that I always ordered my Risi Salad with seitan. The dressing was available for purchase separately, and I was told that it was a creamy tarragon dressing.

Then, unfortunately, as seemed to happen to many of our favorite restaurants over the years (locals-do you remember Pita House, Mrs. Bones, and now, sadly, the Palm Desert Native Foods?), it closed. No more Risi Salad.

Until now. The other day, I made a tarragon vinaigrette for a salad that I’m planning to write about sometime during Vegan MoFo (edit: find it here). The dressing was really good, and it got me to remembering and wondering if I could tweak it a little and duplicate my long lost salad. And you know what? It’s pretty damn close. Of course, maybe the years have faded my memory, but in any case, it is delicious. And here is the recipe.

Rice Salad with Creamy Tarragon Dressing

Rice Salad

Ingredients

Creamy Tarragon Dressing
1/4 cup EVOO
1/8 cup Tarragon Vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
2 Tbs Lime Juice
3 tsp dried Tarragon leaves
1/4 cup Parsley
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs Vegenaise
2 cloves Garlic
1/2 tsp Salt
Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until creamy (it will be a beautiful green color).

Rice Salad
1 package Seitan (or one cup if you make your own), cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 Tbs Lime juice
Pepper

2 cups cooked rice (I used a medley that included basmati, wild, brown, and red.)
1 large Tomato, chopped salad-style
3/4 cup Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup Green Onions
1/2 cup Corn
1/4 cup chopped Parsley
Creamy Tarragon Dressing

Method

Combine Seitan, poultry seasoning, broth, lime juice, and pepper and set aside while you chop vegetables.

Preheat a non-stick pan. Add Seitan mixture and cook until the liquid has evaporated and the seitan begins to brown slightly. Set aside to cool off.

If the rice is hot, allow it to cool off for a few minutes. Combine the rice, Seitan, and vegetables. Add the Tarragon Dressing slowly until the rice is lightly coated. You may not need all the dressing. Toss carefully. The salad can be eaten either warm or cold. Makes enough for two meal-sized servings.

I prefer it warm, maybe because I couldn’t wait until it got cold. I closed my eyes and imagined it was 1996. This salad is definitely going into the regular rotation.

Seitan Meal in a Skillet

This was another ‘what’s in the pantry’ meal, but it was so delicious I decided I’d better write it down as soon as possible. I frequently create a dish with what’s on hand and it often turns out really good, but I quickly forget what I did to make it special. This dish was so yummy that I am inspired to put pen to paper (so to speak), so that I can actually make it again. It reminded me of Martha Stewart’s and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone’s Seitan Bourguignon, mostly because of the richness of the flavor, because the only common ingredient is the seitan. This recipe is very simple, fast and delicious. It makes enough for two large portions.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 Serrano chile (optional), chopped (I didn’t seed it, because I love the hotness, but you can if you prefer a little milder spice)
1 cup (or one package) seitan, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 potato, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup vegetable broth (I used the remaining broth from reconstituted dried mushrooms and it was perfect)
1/2 cup red wine (optional, you can use more broth if you’d like)
1 teaspoon sea salt
pepper to taste
1 cup kale, chopped or broken into bite size pieces

Directions

Preheat the oil in your skillet over med-high heat.
Add the garlic and onion. Cook and stir for two minutes.
Add the yellow pepper and serrano. Continue to cook for several more minutes until the veggies are soft.
Add the seitan and potatoes, and cook until both are slightly brown (about five minutes).
Add the broth, wine, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to simmer, cover and cook about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Remove the lid, increase the heat to medium.
Add the kale and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced by about 3/4 and the kale is tender.
Makes two large portions if served as a complete meal.

I didn’t use a thickener for the sauce and it came out just perfect with the reduction. One thing I didn’t have when I made this dish was some kind of bread or roll. It would have been perfect to soak up the juices.

Seitan Burrito-Easy and Delish!

I love Mexican food. I could live on beans and rice, as long as I had some nice, spicy salsa to liven it up. Ironically, considering Mexican food is so adaptable to a vegan diet, I seriously hesitate to even try to eat at a Mexican restaurant. The main reason is lard, which many traditionalists consider essential to the flavor of the food. Another reason is that once you take the cheese out of many restaurant dishes you don’t have much left. Too bad, because it would be so easy to grill some veggies, add some (lard-free) beans and rice, top it off with salsa and guacamole, and wrap it all up in a warm tortilla. (Note to self: Make that for dinner tonight!)

This seitan burrito is the perfect after-work meal. It is fast because I used canned beans and prepared seitan, but, time permitting one could start from scratch. Do take the time to let the seitan marinate for at least a half hour, which is perfect cause you will be chopping up a few things. Anyway, here we go…

Seitan Burrito

Ingredients:
One box (8 oz) Seitan, cubed into bite sized pieces (You could use any of your favorite mock meat instead of the seitan if you wish)

For Marinade:
Juice of 3 or 4 limes
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Pepper to taste

For Salsa Fresca:
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 or two Serrano chiles (be careful with these, they are very hot. I love them, but you may want to seed them, chop them, or use a milder chile like Jalapeno)
Cilantro to taste

1 Cup White rice
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup prepared salsa (I use one from Henry’s called HotCha that I love or you could make your own)

One can refried beans (most are vegan, but check the label)

Avocado, sliced
Vegan Cheese (optional) I used Daiya.

2-Large Flour Tortillas

Preparation:
Combine your marinade ingredients. Add the seitan, mix, and set aside (for at least a half hour)

Combine all your Salsa Fresca ingredients and set aside.

Prepare your rice. Use the prepared salsa to replace some of the water.

While rice is cooking, put your marinated seitan in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Heat your beans.

Right before serving, heat your tortillas. To build your burrito, place a scoop of beans, rice, and the seitan on the tortilla. Add the salsa fresca, avocado, and cheese if desired. Fold in the bottom half and roll into a burrito. Enjoy. The recipe makes enough for at least two burritos with probably enough left over for lunch the next day.