I will admit that when it came time to prepare the main course for our vegan dinner party, I had enjoyed one…or perhaps two glasses of red wine and I become deeply engrossed in a conversation with my girlfriend (I think we were either discussing the trials and tribulations of parenthood or planning out our next trip to Vegas ; ) So big kudos to the men who stepped up to prepare the entrée that I had planned out. Thanks guys!
The topic of “meat-like” products is hotly debated in the vegetarian/vegan world and they are often considered “Franken-food” or too highly processed to be true plant-like fare. Although I don’t eat them too often they are great as transition foods for newbie vegetarians, they can be handy as convenience foods and they are perfect for serving to non-veg friends to simulate a meaty taste and texture.
Gardein was actually invented in Montreal by Yves Potvin who also created the very first veggie hot dog and is passionate about making meat-like foods that are healthy and convenient. It’s essentially a blend of veggies and grains that are combined together to have the texture and nutrition of lean meat and it is now carried by most major supermarkets and health stores. According to Yves, although people consider this meat-like product to be highly processed – it’s really not. He says “the secret is in how we blend the ingredients together. Gardein, meaning a combination of garden and protein, is slow-cooked in special ovens to give it a meaty mouth feel.”
You can decide for yourself how often you want to partake in these products, but I can definitely recommend Gardein for its reasonable nutritional value, for an amazingly similar taste and texture to meat and as a delicious treat.
I’d have to ask Sam and Mark exactly how hard it was to prepare this main course but it didn’t look too bad. They worked away with beer in hand and it seemed to come together quite quickly. My husband is famous for his horseradish mashed potatoes and they were the perfect accompaniment to this faux-chicken dish adorned with delicate pea shoots. It was pretty to look at and tasted really yummy. We all devoured it and the guys patted themselves on the back for their chef-like prowess.
This dish is sure to impress vegetarian and non-veg friends alike. Just try to keep your wine consumption down before you start to make it!
Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
6-8 yukon gold potatoes, washed but not peeled
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp sea salt
Dash freshly cracked black pepper
1-2 tbsp horseradish (depending on how spicy you like it)
Wash potatoes, cut them into quarters and place them in a large pot of water (enough to cover). Bring them to a boil and reduce to simmer until they are easily pierced with a fork. Drain.
Add oil, salt, pepper and horseradish and mash with a potato masher until fairly smooth. Cover until ready to serve.
Gardein “Chicken” Scaloppini with Sake Gravy and sautéed Pea Shoots
(adapted from The Conscious Cook, Tal Ronnen)
4 Gardein breasts
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups of shitake mushrooms, stems removed and cut into ¼ inch slices
1 cup of dry sake
½ cup vegetable broth
½ cup Earth Balance vegan margarine (or organic butter)
1 tbsp minced fresh chives
Flatten the Gardein with your hands and then slice each breast into 3 pieces. Season with salt and pepper and then dredge in the flour.
Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the Gardein breasts for approx 3 minutes per side until browned. Remove from heat and place on a plate.
Add remaining 2 tbsp of oil to the pan and heat over medium. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the sake and cook for 3-4 minutes more. Add the stock and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Remove from heat and whisk in the Earth Balance. Stir in the chives. Add the Gardein back to the pan and toss to coat with gravy. Cover to keep warm while you sauté the pea shoots.
Pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp pure sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ cup vegetable stock
2 cups of packed pea shoots
Place a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Sprinkle bottom of pan with sea salt and heat for 1 minute. Add oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add stock and pea shoots and cook for 3-4 minutes until wilted. Drain the excess liquid.
Place a large scoop of mashed potatoes on a plate. Cover with sautéed pea shoots and 3 pieces of Gardein. Spoon a little of the additional gravy over top. Enjoy!