Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Those famous chickpea cutlets and some choice toppings

Another from Veganomicon. Apparently I'm not the only one excited by the prospect of cheap, easy, homemade faux meat. This recipe is the darling of Ye Olde Vegan Blogosphere these days. (Just google for extensive commentary and much prettier pictures.) Here's my two cents.

I baked the cutlets in our cast iron skillet and served them with eggplant roasted in spicy tomato sauce and basil. I grabbed the leftovers the next day and ate them plain, a perfectly satisfying snack.
My diagnosis: Quite tasty but awfully, well, glutinous! I'll have to experiment with reducing the gluten.
My housemate's diagnos: Yeah, those cutlets were alright, but I'd eat anything smothered in that eggplant! OK, ok, I'll include that recipe just for her.

And back on Easter I tried the Veganomicon recipe for Mushroom Gravy. By which I mean I suckered my mom into making it. She's a far better recipe tester than I because she... follows recipes. I mention the gravy now since it's clearly begging to smother the cutlets. (Don't they make a lovely couple?)

Chickpea Cutlets

1 cup cooked chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
2 tablespoons soy sauce (or Braggs)
2 gloves garlic, pressed or grated with a microplane
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried sage

Mash the chickpeas together with the oil until no whole chickpeas are left. Add the remaining ingredients and knead for about 3 minutes until strings of gluten have formed. Divide dough into 4 cutlets - roughly 6x4 inch rectangles. Panfry for 6 to 7 minutes on each side. Or brush with olive oil and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, flip and bake 10 more minutes.

Easy Eggplant
1 Chinese eggplant, sliced into 1 inch rounds
a few cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste
generous sprinkling of olive oil
1 15 oz can diced or crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
handful of fresh basil

Heat the oven to 375 (you can bake your cutlets at the same time.) Add the eggplant, olive oil, salt, and pepper to a shallow casserole dish and bake for 20 minutes. I like to add the whole garlic cloves at the beginning and let them roast along with the eggplant. Once your eggplant is brown and tender mix in the tomatoes, wine, red pepper flakes, and basil. Bake for another 20 min, adjust seasoning, and serve.

Mushroom Gravy
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4-1/3 cup whole wheat flour (depending on desired thickness)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
10 oz crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
Several dashes black pepper
1/4 cup white wine

Mix the flour into the broth until dissolved and set aside. Preheat a large non stick pan over medium heat. Saute the onion in the oil for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 more minutes, until mushrooms are tender. Add the seasonings. Saute for another minute. Add the wine and turn the heat up to simmer for about a minute, then lower the heat and add the flour mixture. Stir constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes.

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