By Nancy Olah
Since tomorrow is April Fools’ Day, what better time to fool the carnivores in your family?
My recipe for Chorizo Seitan Pasta uses Upton’s Naturals Seitan and is a dead ringer for a spicy Spanish sausage. Since our son Nick claims Seitan has the most “meat-like” texture of any of my favorite meatless products, this dish could be the perfect April Fools’ dinner for your family carnivores.
But what does it mean to fool someone?
I always mean it in a playful and loving way when it comes to food.
However, I feel like I’ve been trying to fool myself this past month – without much success.
I’m not sure why I thought it would be easy to give up cheese for Lent and “fool” myself with the various “vegan cheeses” on the market.
I’ve tried all of the major brands – Daiya, Follow Your Heart, and Lisanatti. The only one that I could tolerate was the Lisanatti Original Almond Cheddar Style Chunks, and tolerate is a long way from love, if you ask me.
No, the truth of it is, that while I can eat convince myself to eat vegan cheeses in some dishes – like nachos, enchiladas, or an occasional pizza, I never ate a piece of the vegan cheeses to satisfy a cheese craving. If I wanted something creamy, it was easier to choose humus or avocado. And if I wanted protein, it was much easier to fall back on my favorite meat analogue products.
I know from reading The China Study that minimizing my consumption of animal products, including dairy, may lower my risk for many forms of cancer. Since I celebrated a milestone birthday this month, living longer and being cancer-free sure sound appealing to me.
Intellectually, I understand that cheese is the most concentrated form of casein and that casein also acts like an opiate, which is why I may crave it so much. Back in the late 1970’s, I flirted with macrobiotics and a vegan diet – only to find that after a month or two, I would crave cheese so much that I would fall off the wagon and do something embarrassing like binge on a good quality cheddar cheese and Triscuits instead of eating dinner. Then, I’d get back on the wagon and return to a vegan macrobiotic diet for awhile . . . until I finally decided that cheese and dairy had a place in my diet.
While taking a break from cheese and most dairy products has been a challenge for me during Lent, what I’ve learned is that it is easier to not eat cheese at all than to eat the vegan cheeses – which just don’t satisfy me.
The bottom line is that none of the vegan cheeses “fool” my tastebuds like my favorite plant-based meat analogues do.
And one of my favorite meat analogues is Seitan.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Seitan, it is not some new “processed food.” Seitan is a traditional Japanese food that has been around for at least two thousand years. It is made by kneading wheat flour into a ball like making bread, and then rinsing the starch away many, many times, until what you are left with is a ball of very concentrated plant-based protein. The seitan is then slowly cooked for several hours in a broth with herbs, spices, and soy sauce or tamari.
It is extremely time consuming to make your own Seitan – which is why I am grateful to companies like Upton’s who do that for me.
Upton’s Naturals Chorizo Seitan only contains vital wheat gluten, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, garlic, Guajillo, oregano, sea salt, onion, cumin, and black pepper. All of its ingredients are non-GMO, certified Kosher, and 100% vegan.
If you are looking for a delicious way to fool your carnivores on April Fools’ Day, look no further than Chorizo Seitan Pasta.
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided use)
- 1 medium sweet or yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 4-5 large garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- ½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
- 1 28-ounce can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 pound box of Delverde Tortiglioni
- 5 small yellow or orange mini peppers, finely chopped
- 1 8-ounce package of Upton’s Naturals Chorizo Seitan
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup minced Italian flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons minced oregano
- Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet (big enough to accommodate the pasta after it is cooked). Sauté the sliced onion over moderate heat until it is soft and translucent, and then add the garlic and red pepper flakes and turn the heat a bit lower. Add the cayenne. Make sure the garlic does not brown.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken.
- While your sauce is cooking, you’ll be sautéing your seitan and getting the water ready for your pasta. In a large covered pot, bring about 6 quarts to a rolling boil.
- While your water is heating, heat a second skillet, and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over low heat. Salute the chopped mini peppers. Cut the package of Upton’s Naturals Chorizo Seitan in half and crumble the seitan directly into the heated olive oil. I crumble it well, but strive for a mixture of different size pieces, which I think gives it more the look of “real” crumbled ground meat or sausage. Because seitan isn’t “real” meat, it only takes 3 minutes to lightly brown. Turn off the heat under the skillet and check your simmering sauce. If it seems thick, taste it, and add some sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and/or some more red pepper flakes, to taste.
- When your pasta water comes to a rolling boil, add 2 tablespoons of salt, and then the pasta, stirring well to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook about 7 minutes until the pasta is al dente.
- Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water, and then drain the pasta thoroughly in a large colander.
- Add the drained pasta to the skillet of hot tomato sauce, keeping the heat very low. Add part of the reserved water and stir well. Then add the sautéed peppers and seitan and the minced parsley and oregano, and give it another toss. Add the rest of the pasta water if necessary.
- Dish up the pasta into warmed bowls and serve it immediately.