Thursday, January 3, 2013

the devil's in the details

It's just terrible.  I am incapable of baking seitan without making some kind of pun about Satan.  Regardless, the scent that fills the air while it's baking is nothing short of divine, so maybe that will balance out my awful humor.

I have been meaning to make seitan for over a week, but something kept giving me an excuse not to.  By the way, it's not all that intensive a process, it just bakes for a long time.  The short prep barely affords the oven adequate time to preheat alllllll the way to 350.  I was going to make it before Christmas, but then I realized how many meals would find us dining outside of the home and although I don't know how long seitan keeps once it's baked, I didn't feel like wasting the ingredients to learn.  Then I was going to make it right after Christmas... but quite frankly, I forgot.

So as my little brain-like loaf of wheat gluten baked to firmness, filling the kitchen with a delightfully savory smell that eventually permeated the whole apartment, I fantasized about how I would integrate it into dinner tonight.  I did think of filets, like when I was trying to make up for being the little piggy who ate all the Tofurkey... I thought of a stir-fry with thinly cut strips of seitan crisping with red peppers and carrots... but ultimately, the part of me that can't shake the [literally] freezing weather we've had this week wanted something brothy and hearty.  Hearty.  I think that word will finally reach its overuse this winter as I struggle to keep warm while keeping the gas bills low.

So as the scent of lamb-seasoned seitan played around my nose, I dreamt of soft, sweet red peppers, piquant tomatoes, and cheerful green peas to brighten an otherwise RichMustyDen-colored fantasy...

Savory Seitan Stew served on Jasmine rice
serves 6

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp organic oregano
1/4 cup vegetable broth, divided
4 cloves garlic, pressed/minced
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
2 cups cubed seitan
1 cup peas
15 oz petite diced tomatoes

Chop your peppers and then press the garlic over top of them in a bowl (this saves me time, anyway).

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat, add the peppers and garlic and stir very well to ensure the garlic and oil are evenly distributed.  Cover and reduce heat slightly and allow to cook, stirring once or twice, about 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, add your zucchini and half of the vegetable broth.  Stir well and cover for another 5 minutes, stirring once or twice.

After 5 minutes, sprinkle on salt, paprika, marjoram, and oregano, then add the tomatoes, remaining broth, and seitan.  Stir well to combine everything and evenly distribute the seasonings, then cover and reduce heat to a lively simmer, but not a boil.

 Let the stew simmer, covered, 10 more minutes, then add the peas, stir in and cook uncovered 5-10 more minutes.  Serve over rice.