A vegetarian alternative, for your Thanksgiving dinner.
A few hundred years ago, the Indians were nice enough to donate all of their land and worldly possessions to the settlers of this great country, so in return, I’ve decided to pay it forward and spare a turkey. Seems like an even trade. So maybe you can too!
Now before you go calling me a communist for even suggesting that you not dig into these delicious little gobblers on one of the biggest American holidays of the year, just look at this one. Can you blame me?
OK, so you’re still going to eat a turkey, however I’d like to share this amazing recipe that I got from Alicia Silverstone’s cookbook “The Kind Diet” and maybe you’ll substitute it for a meat dish in the future. I’ve made this a number of times, for even the most skeptical of my friends, and it’s always been a hit.
In case you’re wondering what seitan is, it’s a wheat protein, that when cooked, has the look and texture of meat. Is your mouth watering yet? However, being that it’s made from wheat, it is obviously not appropriate for those on a gluten free diet, just to clarify. Dinner parties are impossible these days, aren’t they?
To make it, you’ll need all of these things:
3/4 cup tomato paste 8-10 pieces plain seitan (about one pound)
1/4 cup umeboshi vinegar 2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry red wine 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced garlic to taste 1 cup ground pecans
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon dried tarragon 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
To get started, bust out your blender. I don’t have a blender so I used this little guy:
(For anyone who is going to be eating the seitan that I prepared for this post and is afraid of contracting a scathing case of E.coli, I promise you, the inside was clean.)
Next, throw all this stuff in it: tomato paste, vinegar, wine, freshly squeezed orange juice (Tropicana makes a great one) shoyu, garlic, parsley, tarragon and rosemary.
I had a couple of hiccups during this initial step, actually. First, I’m not about to mince or finely chop anything like the ingredients list says. Besides, I don’t even know where the fresh rosemary would be in my grocery store, so all of the spices I used are dried.
Second, my refrigerator was apparently having an identity crisis and believed itself to be the freezer, so when I pulled out my garlic from all the way in the back, it was a frozen block and looked like this:
I don’t own a microwave, so this was a tricky issue, but luckily I’m a genius. If you encounter the same problem, simply boil a pot of water and stick your frozen plastic container of garlic into it. You’ll know it’s done when it looks like this:
Once again, anyone afraid they are going to be violently ill after eating my frost bitten garlic, a duh! I boiled it! That should kill all of the tuberculosis.
Now blend up all of your ingredients. If your Cuisinart looks like this after you’re finished…
…it’s time to get a new one. Someone is definitely going to die from this meal.
Transfer the marinade into a shallow dish and add the seitan, making sure to coat them on all sides. Then cover it and throw it into your fridge next to your mangled garlic for at least three hours or overnight.
Once your family has had all of their shots and you’re ready to serve them your tasty turkey alternative, grind up the pecans and mix them with the flour, salt, pepper and more rosemary. Then drop the marinated seitan in the flour mixture and roll it around all over the place. Finally, place the seitan in a saute pan with the heated oil for two to three minutes.
Now they’re ready to eat. I made roasted vegetables and green beans with mascarpone as my side dishes.
My friend Emily showed up at just the right time to test them out.
“It tastes like a meatball sub! Only without the bread, so it’s better for your waste-line.”
Thanks Emily! So I guess in the end, pecan-crusted seitan is really nothing at all like eating a turkey but if ever there were a holiday where it was traditional to eat meatball subs, this would be perfect. So go ahead and serve it to all of your friends on Superbowl Sunday. At that point, at least you won’t have to worry about the food killing you, as all of the football fans in your apartment will have already done so upon discovering what’s for dinner.
In closing, if you do decide to spare a bird on Thanksgiving, just remember, all together it only takes about thirty minutes to prepare seitan, which means you can spend the extra five and a half hours you’ll save not making a turkey, arguing with your relatives.