Vegan Salisbury Steak with Onion Gravy

I’ve wanted to veganize Salisbury steak for some time now, but I wasn’t sure how to get the right texture. I’m always looking for ways to make homemade versions of what I would normally be forced to buy in processed form (usually loaded with soy protein isolate). Amy’s Kitchen makes a frozen Salisbury steak entrĂ©e that’s soy free and tastes amazing, but it’s getting harder to find and pre-packaged “convenience” meals are expensive. It may not seem like it; $5 for a meal isn’t terrible, but when you can make 4x as much food for around $2, homemade is clearly the better choice. I’m sure it’s healthier too!

I found a few recipes online for vegan Salisbury steak, but most of them called for veggie crumbles, textured vegetable protein, or crumbled up veggie burgers. These weren’t going to work for me since I wanted to avoid processed soy (read: vegan junk food), as well as expensive pre-packaged products. I also found a recipe that called for lentils and brown rice as the base, and although the flavor was okay, the texture just wasn’t where I wanted it to be.

I had some bulgur and black beans on hand today and wondered if I could use those as a base for the steaks, similar to the base I use for sausage patties. I use bulgur in my favorite chili recipe too and everyone always asks, “What is this stuff that has a meat-like texture?”

I was really excited with what I came up with, and on my first try too! The bulgur adds a more meaty texture and the beans act as a good binder. Now, I’m not saying that you’ll fool all your friends into thinking this is meat, but it’s an awesome recipe with great flavor and texture, in my opinion. Slather it in onion gravy and it’s even better. 🙂

For the steaks:
1 1/2 cups water + 1 1/2 teaspoons Better Than Bullion’s No Beef Base
1/2 cup bulgur
1 cup black beans
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix the water and bullion in a saucepan over medium heat until the bullion is dissolved. Add the bulgur, put a lid on the pot, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer (around medium-low) and leave the lid slightly tilted. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.

While the bulgur is cooking, mash the black beans in a big bowl with a fork. You want to make sure the beans until no whole beans are left. Alternatively, you can pulse them in a food processor a few times.

When the bulgur is done, let it cool slightly and then add it to the bowl with the black beans and the rest of the ingredients. Use your hands to mix everything together, sort of kneading the mixture for a couple of minutes.

Divide into 4-5 parts, depending on the size steaks you want, and form them into patties.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat with a little oil and cook the steaks for 3 minutes on each side.

For the gravy:
1 tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1 small onion, halved and sliced thin
2 cups water + 2 teaspoons Better Than Bullion’s No Beef Base
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

While the steaks are cooking, start the gravy.

Heat the Earth Balance in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat and saute the onions for 6-7 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, for a couple of minutes until the gravy thickens. Season with salt and pepper as needed. The gravy will also thicken more as it cools.

salisbury steak

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Lentil Chard Ragout – Healthy Comfort Food!

Everyone has a different idea of what comfort food is, but there’s a special breed of comfort food in the South. Comfort food = as much cheese, butter, cream, fat, and cholesterol as you can muster into one recipe, then, top it with bacon!

Too bad most people think a plant-based diet is boring and unappetizing. They really don’t know what they’re missing! I think we can all agree the comfort food should be full of flavor, stick-to-your-ribs food that’s cooked with love.

That’s exactly what this recipe is for me. It’s another great one taken from Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Kitchen. I doubled the amount of swiss chard since I love chard and I knew it would cook down. The lemon zest really brightens everything up and when it’s done, it’s more of a hearty stew. The lentils sort of melt into everything and create a rich, creamy texture. The flavor from the nutritional yeast, wine, and fresh herbs is really remarkable. I could eat this every week!

Kris suggests serving it over brown rice or another grain, but this is so filling, I didn’t need anything extra on the plate.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup shallots, finely diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups dried green lentils
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup sherry or marsala cooking wine
4 cups chard, chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeas
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup bunch fresh Parsley, shopped
1 cup frozen green peas
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter (I actually forgot to add this and didn’t miss it)

Sauté the garlic and shallots in the olive oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes. De-glaze the pan with the wine and add the lentils. Bring just to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients and cook another 3 minutes or so, until the peas are heated through and the chard is wilted.

This is even better the next day!

An ode to Bulgar (and an awesome chili recipe)

Over the Christmas holiday, I had my cousin and his wife (who are also dear friends) over for dinner.  I decided to make a pot of chili and a pan of jalapeño cheddar cornbread as it was a very casual get together and I was wanted something pretty simple to prepare since I had been cooking and baking a lot for the holidays.  I used a chili recipe called “Positively Pantry Chili” from Robin Robertson’s cookbook Vegan on the Cheap.  The recipe falls under the slow cooker section, but it has alternate instructions for making it on the stove.  You pretty much dump everything into a big pot and simmer it for half an hour.  Can’t get any easier than that!

The recipe calls for bulgar, which most people have never heard of.  If I hadn’t had a stepfather from Lebanon who used it in tabbouleh (a Mediterranean salad, pronounced tah-boo-lee), I would probably still have no clue what it is.  Bulgar is a form of wheat that has been parboiled, dried, and then ground. It’s used in a lot of Middle Eastern cuisine.  The finished product is small granules, somewhat similar to couscous, and is a tan-ish color.  Bulgar is low in fat and rich in B vitamins, iron, protein, and fiber.

When my cousin’s wife looked at the chili, she asked what was in it that made it look like there was ground beef in it.  Bulgar sort of resembles the crumbly texture of beef or sausage when cooked, especially in a dish that is somewhat brown-ish in color.  She took a bite and was amazed that she couldn’t tell the difference.  Both of them really seemed to enjoy it and my cousin’s wife said, “I’m going to have to look into this bulgar stuff.”

I’m sure you can find it at a Mediterranean store, but you’re not going to see it on a shelf in most grocery stores.  I buy mine from the bulk bin at Whole Foods, were you can purchase enough to fill your own container from home(have it weighed at customer service and then fill’er up!) or you can just get as much as you need for one recipe.

Here is the chili recipe that I made and I will be posting 2 other recipes I use bulgar in shortly:

Positively Pantry Chili
(from Robin Robertson’s Vegan on the Cheap)
6-8 servings at less than $1.00 per serving

1 24 oz jar of chunky tomato salsa
ÂĽ cup ketchup
2 Tablespoons chili powder
Âľ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon sugar
1 cup of water
1 15.5 oz can dark red kidney beans (or  1 ½ cups cooked from dried beans)
1 15.5 oz can black beans (or  1 ½ cups cooked from dried beans)
1 15.5 oz can pinto beans (or  1 ½ cups cooked from dried beans)
½ cup bulgar
16 oz corn kernels (frozen or canned, drained)

Toss everything into a pot, stir, cover, and turn the heat to high.  When everything start to bubble, turn down the heat to low and simmer for half an hour.  I usually end up adding a 1/2 cup or so more water to mine as the bulgar absorbs the liquid to thin it out a bit and prevent it from burning.

Lentil Loaf recipe (#1)

Since the holidays are coming up, I thought I’d post several main dish ideas to replace the dead animals on the table!  This lentil loaf is amazing and is one of several that I’ll be sharing with you.  I double the glaze recipe and save half because it’s so good and I always want extra for serving!

Lentil Apple Walnut Loaf (from Clean Food by Terry Walters)

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 thumb size piece Kombu (I didn’t use this)
  • 3 TBS ground golden flax seed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 2 TBS mirin
  • 1 apple, peeled, grated and mixed with 1 TBS lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup toasted walnuts chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 6 – 7 dashes ume plum vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs

The Glaze

  • 2 TBS ketchup
  • 1 TBS Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBS maple syrup
  • 1 TBS apple butter (I left this out since I didn’t have it and it was fine)
  • 1 TBS Arrowroot (you can use cornstarch)

Preparing dried lentils:  Rinse and place in rice cooker or pot and add stock and kombu.  Bring to boil and reduce heat and simmer until liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender (about 30 minutes).  Remove from heat, discard kombu and set aside.

Preparing loaf:  In a small bowl, combine ground flax seed with water and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté onion, carrot and celery in olive oil for 2 minutes.  Add mirin and sauté 3 minutes more until soft.  Add grated apple, raisins and walnuts and sauté another minute.  Add thyme, vinegar, and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat and fold in cooked lentils, breadcrumbs and soaked flax seed until evenly distributed. Press mixture firmly into lightly oiled loaf pan and set aside.

Preparing Glaze:  In small saucepan over no heat, combine all glaze ingredients.  Place over medium heat and stir continuously until thick (about 2-3 minutes).  Spread evenly over loaf and bake, uncovered 40 minutes.  Remove and serve.

Quick & Easy Lentil Tacos

The brown lentils in this recipe require no soaking.  The package might say they do, but it’s all lies!  That said, I do occasionally soak my lentils overnight with the assumption that they cook quicker and that it reduces gas, but that could be a complete figment of my imagination.  If you do soak them, discard the soaking water and add fresh water for cooking the next day.

I’ve found the lentil cooking method that works best for me is leaving them in the crockpot (with enough water to cover + 2 inches or so) on low while I’m at work (8 hours) and then they’re done when I get home.  You can cook them on the stove in about 45 minutes or so though.  Whatever your method, just make sure your lentils are cooked before you start this recipe!  You’ll have dinner on the table in less than 10 minutes!

Ingredients:
1 small-medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cups cooked lentils
1 package taco seasoning
8 taco shells (soft or crispy)
toppings such as lettuce, tomato, salsa, guacamole, vegan sour cream, etc.

Saute the onion in 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, chop your tomatoes, lettuce, and prepare toppings. 

Add the lentils, 3/4 cup water, and taco seasoning to the onion and simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally,  until the water is absorbed/evaporated.

Spoon lentil mixture into 8 taco shells (about 1/4 cup per shell) and add your favorite toppings.

Layered Enchilada Bake (Day 19/20)

Sorry that I haven’t been on the ball with posting every day this week.  I want to get back to posting discussions about vegan-related topics, but I’ve only had time for recipes lately.  I trust you’ll forgive me.

This recipe is incredibly easy and can be made as simple or elaborate as you want to make it.  I’ve given you the basic recipe that I like to make here, but of course you could add sliced avocado, tomato, or lettuce just before serving.  You could also mix in vegan sour cream, jalapeños, or green chilies with the layers.

Ingredients:

2 cans of chili beans in sauce (you can choose from mild, medium, or hot.  I use Bush’s brand.)
1 can of enchilada sauce (again, choose your heat)
10 small corn tortillas
2-3 green onions, chopped (green and light green parts)
1 cup of shredded vegan cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 375.
Spray an 9×9″ baking dish with non-stick spray.  Tear half of the tortillas up into smaller pieces and place them in the bottom of the baking dish.  Pour one can of beans over the tortillas and then sprinkle with half of the cheese.  Repeat the layers again.  Pour the enchilada sauce over the top of everything and sprinkle with green onions.  Bake for about 30 minute or until the cheese is melted and everything is warmed through.

Black Bean Burgers (Day 17)

These burgers are so good and they even look pretty close to beef burgers.  I made some for my mother and sis once and my sister walked in and said, “Is that meat?!”  When I told her of course it wasn’t meat, she asked, “Are you sure?”

They freeze well, so I usually make a double batch (1 recipe makes 4 burgers) and freeze half.  Heat the patties up in a skillet over medium heat with a little oil and you have an easy dinner for another night in the future!

Ingredients:

1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2 cups beans cooked from scratch)
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/4 chopped red onion
3 tablespoons non-dairy milk, veg broth, or water
1 teaspoon Jamaican jerk seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt

Put the beans in a bowl and mash them with a fork or a potato masher until no whole beans are left.  You don’t want the consistency of bean dip, but you want them all good and mashed.  Alternatively, you can put them into a food processor and pulse a few times, checking every couple of seconds to check for consistency.

Add all of the other ingredients to the beans, mixing with your hands (like meatloaf), mashing with your fingers to make sure everything is mixed well. 

Divide the mixture into fourths and form 4 burger patties.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and then cook the burgers about 4 minutes on each side until browned.

Serve on toasted buns with condiments and your favorite burger toppings.  I recommend romaine lettuce, tomato (sprinkled with salt and pepper), avocado slices, and Veganaisse.  
(Pictures to come later this week)