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Posts Tagged ‘stew’

Fesenjan

When we were in North Carolina earlier this month, our friend Emily took us out to an amazing restaurant that featured an all vegetarian menu. She and her boyfriend Aaron highly recommended the fesenjan – a thick Persian stew made from walnuts and pomegranate juice. My experiences with Persian food has, admittedly, been limited to the few times in college when another close friend of mine and Emily’s, Gitta, had opportunity to express her Persian heritage.  She did so by getting her hands on ingredients enough to make actual food (not ramen, or spaghetti, or cereal, or any of the other economical items we were so accustomed to eating) in any of the meager kitchens in the places we called home during our days at Oberlin. Persian food is not a well represented cuisine on Maui, so Dan and I decided to order a bowl of fesenjan knowing that it may be a while before we again have the opportunity to do so. After it arrived to much lip smacking and oohing and ahhing, we finally came up for air and declared it to be delicious.

The next day as I continued to talk about how good it was (I can’t help it – a good meal can create conversation material for me for days, though it might be unfortunately limited to exclamations about how delicious it was) Emily challenged me to replicate the dish in my own kitchen. I can appreciate a good challenge.

Back on Maui, I research fesenjan and learned that it is often paired with chicken or duck. I had a difficult time finding a version online that did not contain meat. I could easily have omitted the meat from any of the recipes I found but I decided to be a bit more adventurous. Though the fesenjan I had in North Carolina did not contain any faux meat, I decided to add seitan to mine. I used this recipe for guidance as I adapted it to suit my tastes, and I used the simple seitan recipe from Veganomicon. Instead of simmering the seitan in broth I added the raw dough directed to the fesenjan pot and let it cook in the juices of the stew. I was so, so pleased with how this turned out – it was delicious, and it tasted even better the next day for lunch. We enjoyed ours over brown rice. Dan declared it to taste just like the restaurant version, though, admittedly, having only tried it once I am not sure we can be taken as expert opinions on this one. We really loved this, and if anyone out there knows a thing or two about fesenjan I would really enjoy hearing your opinion as to the “authenticity” of my version.

I highly recommend this dish for any holiday menu you may be creating. The flavors of pomegranate, walnuts, nutmeg, and cinnamon are perfect for this time of year. Be sure to not skimp on cooking time – the fesenjan starts out thin but, as the walnuts release their oils during the cooking process, it will thicken up.

Enjoy!

Fesenjan

1/8 cup olive oil
2 small onions, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 ½ cups walnuts, finely ground
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
2 cups pomegranate juice
1 tbsp agave
½ tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 generous pinch saffron, crushed
4 tbsp lime juice

1 batch seitan dough

1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven. Add onions and sauté until golden brown.

2. Add the garlic, cinnamon, and nutmeg and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the walnuts, pomegranate juice, pomegranate molasses, agave, salt, pepper, and saffron. Bring to a low boil and simmer for 30 minutes. In the meantime, make the seitan dough.

3. Divide the seitan dough into small “nugget” size pieces and add the pieces to the pot. Simmer for another 30 minutes.

4. Stir in the lime juice and simmer for an additional 60 minutes.

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St. Patrick’s Day could be summed up as such for me: finding new and interesting ways of using Guinness in the kitchen. (I posted this without the knowledge that Guinness is not, in fact, vegan (thank you, Romina!)  For more on this, please read the comments for this post … and, for you vegans, here is a link to a list of vegan beers to help you find an alternative to Guinness) For the last couple of years I’ve rested on the laurels of Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes, which probably would have made yet another appearance this year had I not still been in sugar overload recovery from Dan’s birthday a week ago. This year I decided that I wanted to make something more savory, so I researched different traditional Irish entrees and quickly came to realize that the culinary influences from the Emerald Isle have not made their way into my cooking. Colcannon, corned beef and cabbage, corned beef hash, and even shepherd’s pie are all strangers to my kitchen. After careful consideration, I finally settled upon a Guinness and beef stew recipe from the Food Network and a brown Irish soda bread recipe from Cooking Light to veganize (the shepherd’s pie will just have to wait). Below I have copied the recipes directly from their origins and edited them to reflect my adaptations. These two recipes make a wonderful and satisfying dinner for any night, not just St. Patty’s Day, so eat up!

Erin Go Bragh!

Seitan and Guinness Stew
Adapted from Food Network

2 cups seitan, coarsely chopped
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp flour
Salt & pepper
Pinch of cayenne
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste, mixed with 4 tbsp water
1 ½ cups Guinness
3 carrots, large dice
2 Yukon gold potatoes, large dice
1 sprig thyme
Chopped parsley, for garnish

1. Toss the seitan with ½ tablespoon of the oil. In a small bowl, season the flour with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Toss the seitan with the seasoned flour.

2. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Brown the seitan for five minutes. Reduce the heat, add the onions, crushed garlic and tomato paste mixture to the pot, cover, and cook gently for 5 minutes.

3. Pour the Guinness into the pot. Bring the Guinness to a boil, then add the carrots, potatoes, and thyme leaves. Stir and adjust seasonings.

4. Cover the pot and simmer over low heat for 1 ½ hours. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Brown Irish Soda Bread
Adapted from Cooking Light2 cups whole wheat flour
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chilled Earth Balance butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cups soymilk, mixed with 1 ¼ tbsp apple cider vinegar1. Preheat oven to 350°. Mix the vinegar with the soymilk and set aside. Lightly spoon flours into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine whole wheat flour and next 6 ingredients (whole wheat flour through salt) in a large bowl; cut in Earth Balance butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives. Make a well in center of flour mixture; add the soymilk mixture. Stir just until moist.2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 5 or 6 times. Pat dough into an 8-inch circle on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray. Using a sharp knife, score dough by making 2 lengthwise cuts 1/4 inch deep across the top of the loaf to form an X. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into 12 wedges.

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