Sunday, April 15, 2012

Seitan Jambalaya

I'm back from a great trip to New Orleans and I'm ready to cook up some flavorful Cajun favorites.  First up: Seitan Jambalaya.  Jambalaya is usually made with meat and/or seafood, as far as I can tell, but this vegan version is a great alternative.

Jambalaya garnished with parsley

Recipe:  
Seitan Jambalaya
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil (divided into 2 tablespoons and 4 tablespoons)
  • 16 ounces seitan strips, pulled apart or cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups long-grain brown rice
  • 1 - 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 - 15 ounce can cannellini beans
  • 1 - 15 ounce can light red kidney beans
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and have ready a large, deep casserole dish or 13 x 9 inch baking pan.

Next, brown the seitan.  In a large saucepan or soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the seitan and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.  (It's okay if the seitan sticks to the bottom of the pot--the pan will be deglazed later. on in the recipe.)  Remove the seitan from the pot and set aside.  

Add the remaining oil to the pot and stir in the vegetables.  Sauté for about 12 minutes until the vegetables become very soft.  Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, for another 4 minutes.  Then, add the water, cook for 30 seconds stirring frequently, and add the rice.  Stir the rice for about 4 minutes.  Next, add the browned seitan and all of the remaining ingredients except the vegetable broth and parsley.  Bring to a simmer, pour in the vegetable broth, and return to a simmer.  

Finally, pour the mixture into your baking dish, cover tightly with aluminum foil or the dish's lid, and bake for 40-45 minutes.  Once you remove the dish from the oven, stir the jambalaya and recover the dish, allowing it to sit for about 10 minutes.  Garnish with parsley and serve hot. 

Yields 6 or 7 servings.

Comments:
Taste:       
I've made this aromatic dish a few times before and it always tastes great.  The herbs have plenty of time to build a complex flavor as the jambalaya bakes.  We mistakenly added a bit too much rice this time, meaning we had a difficult time getting the rice to cook all the way, but the dish ultimately comes out as a thick, protein-rich, and delicious one-pot meal.   
Accessibility:     
Unfortunately, this recipe doesn't yield the most accessible dish in this blog.  Seitan is hard to find at many grocery stores (we had to go to Whole Foods to get it).  Luckily, seitan freezes well, meaning you could stock up on it; or, you can always make your own.  Also, though this recipe does call for many spices, it's not the end of the world if you don't have all of them.     
 Ease of Preparation:   
This dish isn't particularly difficult to make.  However, it does take a long time to prepare, given the fact that you cook it first and then bake it.
Non-vegan friendliness:    
If you're cooking for someone who doesn't like seitan or is generally suspicious of meat alternatives, this could be a great dish to serve.  The seitan is mixed in with all of the other, more recognizable ingredients and adds more protein than anything else.  

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