Ups and downs
The decision to become vegetarian nine months ago has been one of the best I’ve ever made. It was primarily health-driven, and the result has been nothing short of what I had hoped. I now eat far better than I ever did when I was the healthiest meat-eater I knew, and I’m a much stronger runner as a result. And even though the “not eating animals” thing was subsidiary at first, that awareness has become more appreciable and brings me a sense of pride every time I “remember” that I don’t eat animals.
Like anything worth doing, though, being a vegetarian has not been completely without sacrifice. Aside from the great loss I feel every time I drive by the new Buffalo Wild Wings in my town, the biggest downside for me has been that I don’t love cooking like I used to. Cooking used to be an escape, a passion even, and honestly, it’s not anymore.
A lot of this may be a function of the comparatively more time I spend running and blogging than I used to, because passionate vegetarian and vegan cooks undoubtedly exist. For me though, at least for now, cooking and eating have become more habit than hobby. And I’m completely fine with that — one interest replacing another is nothing new for me. Putting more energy into training for ultramarathons than making a better lasagna is nothing I’m ashamed of. And besides, old interests inevitably resurface when the right triggers come along and remind me how much a part of me they are. (In a rather nerdy aside, this is happening with chess right now. I ain’t too proud!)
The point of all that
Ok, before that got out of hand, it was intended to introduce this fun recipe from 1,000 Vegan Recipes that kind of brought me back to the days when I was really into cooking. I used to make chicken piccata when I was on an Italian food kick; I always liked simple pan-sauce dishes like that.
But fake, processed-soy meat sucks, so I figured piccata dishes were a gonner from my kitchen. Not so! In this recipe, chickpeas and cashews are ground up and formed into little medallions that get pan-seared to become… BETTER fake meat! Erin and I both enjoyed this one, especially the pan sauce. I wouldn’t call it our favorite recipe in the book, but it was a nice change of pace, and a good main dish to serve with a starch and vegetable, something we haven’t had much of since most vegetarian dishes we make tend to be one-dish meals.
So with that lengthy introduction, here is the recipe. I’ve gotten permission to give you a limited number of exact recipes from the book, as long as I make it very clear that they’re from 1,000 Vegan Recipes, written by Robin Robertson and published by Wiley. So here goes: this recipe is from 1,000 Vegan Recipes, written by Robin Robertson and published by Wiley.
Piccata-style cashew chickpea medallions (from 1000 Vegan Recipes)
makes 4 servings
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed
- 3/4 cup unsalted roasted cashews
- 1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and blotted dry
- 3/4 cup wheat gluten flour (vital wheat flour)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegan margarine
- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. In a food processor, combine the garlic and cashews and process until finely ground. Add the chickpeas and pulse until chopped. Add the flour, soy sauce, paprika, turmeric, and salt to taste and pulse until well mixed.
- Turn the mixture out onto a work surface and mix with your hands for a minute or two to fully incorporate. Divide the mixture into eight pieces and shape into 1/4-inch-thick medallions.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the medallions, cover, and cook until nicely browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the medallions to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you make the sauce.
- To the same skillet, add the wine, lemon juice, capers, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by a third. Swirl in the margarine, stirring until melted. Transfer the medallions to dinner plates and drizzle with the sauce. Serve immediately.