Vegan since 1975, I decide to answer the question, "What DO you eat?" These posts tell about some meals and recipes my family and I have enjoyed over the years.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Seitan and Polenta Skillet With Fresh Greens

I am always on the lookout for fast vegan recipes that use ingredients I haven't yet tried much. I bought a premade tube of polenta at Trader Joe's that I needed to try, although the family seemed dubious about its looks. Polenta is cooked corn meal which is moist yet firm, and sliceable. It doesn't need to be refrigerated until you slice into the plastic wrapping around it.

I get Laptop Lunch newsletters monthly, which have recipes, and this month's featured a SEITAN POLENTA SKILLET WITH FRESH GREENS which looked tasty, from Nava Atlas' Vegan Express cookbook. I went to the coop looking for the baby bok choy and fresh spinach, plus the gluten powder I needed to make some seitan. They no longer carried gluten powder, having replaced it with gluten-free baking mixes galore. I did mention to them that not everyone is gluten intolerant, but grudgingly spent over three dollars for an eight ounce tub of premade seitan, because I really wanted to try this recipe. Apparently the other coop in my area has the gluten powder, and I will get a few pounds there next time I'm in town. I already had some green onions and dried tomatoes, which would be the other essential ingredients to have on hand.

Coming home to peruse the recipe I saw that I needed a whole pound of seitan. Oh, well, better some seitan than no seitan. I overcompensated on the greens to make a larger pot of food.

Slice up the tube of polenta into half inch slices, then into quarters. This will be enough to cover the bottom of a normal sized frying pan with high sides. I have a big cast iron one that I use. Wipe the pan with olive oil and saute the polenta quarters for five minutes on each side. Mine never became browned. I then removed the pieces from the pan onto a plate, reserving them for later.

While the polenta was cooking I cut up the chunks of stewed seitan into longish hunks. I washed the approximately six cups of loosely packed spinach in a big stainless steel bowl. I washed the bunch of baby bok choy and cut it into one inch pieces. I sent my son out to pick some green onions and I cut four stalks into small pieces. The recipe had called for four scallions, six stalks of bok choy and six ounces of spinach. 

After removing the polenta from the pan, I added a tablespoon of tamari and of olive oil to it, and dropped in the seitan pieces to saute for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.

I added the chopped up greens and green onions, covered and cooked them until the greens were wilted, which took a few minutes.

I sprinkled the dish with balsamic vinegar and folded in the polenta and about one quarter cup of sliced dried tomatoes.

I seasoned it with salt and pepper as needed and served it to four people.
This was a fast, tasty, colorful and easy dish, as long as the ingredients were purchased ahead of time. Start collecting them now.

(The photo was added later, and in this version I used my home made seitan (gluten roast) and home made polenta, which I chilled in oiled cans for their tubular effect. I also only used spinach, no baby bok choy, and less of it and more of the seitan this time. My dried tomatoes are pretty brown, and I think this dish would be very pretty if you could find some redder ones.)